Elly Clark

Creativity is without question one of the biggest contributors to business success. According to a report conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Adobe, companies that foster creativity are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers in terms of revenue growth.

While the connection between business and creativity is not always immediate, the truth is they produce amazing results together.

Creativity can support the creation of extraordinary customer experiences, from an initial awareness campaign through to the clever, personalised use of digital to engage and convert.

So why then, do financial service businesses treat creativity as a secondary priority? And how can we encourage this to change so that customers engage with financial services in a more positive way?

Talking but not living creativity

Rarely, when engaging with clients on new marketing initiatives, is the conversation focused on creativity. Typically, the discussion is focused more on strategy, product, sales and delivery, with creativity taking a back seat.

In my experience, it seems far too often I have reviewed brand strategies for financial services business’ which position themselves as innovative, pioneering and forward thinking and compared this with their extremely conservative and outdated brand, campaign creative or content piece. The creative has clearly let the strategy down. This kind of fractured communication does nothing more than create confusion and frustration internally and externally.

It also makes it hard for your prospective and actual customers to understand what makes you different from your competitors. If all financial firms dilute their creativity, they all look the same, so why should a customer buy your product if you’re no different to anyone else?

My sense is that somehow the messaging has been lost and the creative brief has not been met. Does this lack of business alignment lie with the client or the agency? And is this due to budget, talent, fear, personality, taste, or all of the above?

If creativity is an afterthought in a company’s marketing, then it would be safe to assume that there’s no role for creativity throughout the whole business. In today’s world, lack of creativity in business is a dangerous and finite game to play. We all know the story of what happened to Kodak and Blackberry…

Without creativity, you have no innovation and a stagnant product or service. Ultimately you have no way of staying ahead of your competitors and the shifting marketplace.

To add credibility to my argument, the biggest thought leaders in marketing: Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin, have all publicly stated that creativity, in their eyes, is sacred and they actively nurture it so that it takes priority over everything they do.

As Maya Angelou said: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Small and creatively formed

You don’t necessarily need big marketing budgets to put creativity first. Fintech is the most innovative and creative sector in financial services. Their budgets are usually small, but on the whole they are effective, nimble and open to allowing their creative agency to focus on smart, stand-out ways to communicate their business.

Some great creative Fintech examples within Australia. Registry Direct, XTB and Acorns are businesses that have enthusiastically prioritised the role that creativity plays within their business. As a result, their brand, campaign creative and content has allowed them to be ‘remarkable’ and has significantly impacted the performance of their businesses without breaking the bank. Further afield, Cadre has a lovely online user experience which aims to increase intrigue and dwell time on their site.

Successful Fintechs also tend to put customers’ needs first, allowing them to build creative solutions to problems that other firms have ignored for years. It’s another example of customer focused creativity delivering results.

How you can nurture creativity and growth in your business

The Adobe and Forrester study found that companies that foster creativity achieve exceptional revenue growth, market share and competitive leadership relative to their peers. It also revealed that 82% of companies believe there is a strong connection between creativity and business results.

The good news is that there are some simple steps you can take to change your business focus to encourage and nurture creativity. They will give your business the platform to improve your customer experience, increasing your opportunity to differentiate your offer, (something not often achieved in the financial services industry), and ultimately drive growth. They will also have a hugely positive impact on the culture of your business.

Here are some simple steps you can take:
  • Set goals for achieving creative outcomes. Treat creativity as a valid business objective by establishing corporate goals that include creative objectives.
  • Foster collaboration with partners. Encourage employees to seek and reach out to connect with partners (both customers and suppliers). This type of collaboration is important to generating innovative ideas, products and services.
  • Encourage a creative culture through leadership. Creativity leads to new ideas that can disrupt markets and displace competitors.
  • Fund creativity and ideation. Demonstrate the value that creativity places on creativity by funding the most promising ideas.
  • Adopt technology early. Technology supports rapid innovation, a high performance working environment and a visible brand.
  • Adopt customer-led design. By having a focus on customer needs, putting yourself in their shoes, you will instinctively take a more creative view on developing solutions.
  • Create novel customer interactions. Excel at design and develop concepts that stand out in the market. Deliver remarkable and delightful customer experiences.


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