What Is An Idea

What is an Idea?

by Grant Wenzlau
Ideas Issue

At Day One we are always thinking about ideas—not just talking about them, hunting for them around every corner. There are never-ending conversations: What’s the idea here? Is this the idea? Is this an idea yet?

I heard these conversations as soon as I started working here and I was immediately trying to figure out what people were talking about when they said “the idea.” What makes something an idea as opposed to a partial idea (or simply nothing at all). It was kind of vague, a you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of thing. But after studying and creating a few ideas that worked, here’s what I’ve learned about what an idea is.

What is an Idea?

A magic trick. A sleight of hand that hones in on a cultural or consumer insight and then uses that as a way in to communicate a brand message. But this must happen in an instant. So that when you see an idea the substitution between the cultural conversation and the brand conversation disappears. Creativity combines the two; through ideas, they are indistinguishable.

Like the Picasso quote: “Art is a lie that reveals the truth,” great ideas in marketing use a cultural moment and customer insight to reveal a brand truth. The alternatives are: a brand not connecting to a cultural conversation at all, which comes off as tone-deaf. Or making a half-hearted attempt to connect but coming off as inauthentic, like a bandwagoner.

A great idea is like magic. It is sublimation—the process where a solid turns into gas, without turning to liquid first. It is a magic leap. It seems like luck when you stumble onto it. But in the following pages, you can see the process we go through to create magic every day.