THE KNIGHTS CREATIVE: HOW BRAVE THINKING CAN CREATE SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES - Joe Blend
Guest Blogger: Joe Blend
Joe is a freelance creative writer who writes prose and poetry that function as fresh servings of caffeinated thinking, to contribute clarity and memorability to projects and efforts that need to rise above the noise of our fast-paced society. "On a side note, my name is real—an actual coffee name, assigned to me at birth. And yes, I love coffee—I consume four cups of delicious java daily, without hesitation," Joe.
Once upon a time, someone discovered creative thinking. They relished the ability to interpret life through a recipe of abstract perspectives and colorful metaphors. Their now-ancient work infused minds far and wide with caffeinated thinking long before Starbucks opened their first door. But at some point, dark forces crept upon the public stage and sought to relegate creative thought to the recesses of society, leaving straightforward interpretation to occupy the void. You can still see the remnants of this movement today since its philosophy is epitomized within a simple yet common phrase: it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But the story isn’t over. And that, dear readers, is why I’m composing these words for you today. From the cracks and catacombs of the commercial world arose champions of creative thinking for businesses. These Knights Creative wielded their sharp minds to combat the status quo and to save the unique, all in a way that benefited the masses. They made creative thought valuable again and through their efforts, served as perfect examples of how business can bloom through a unique vision that’s loyal to passion.
THE KNIGHTS CREATIVE
It takes a brave soul to realize a passion but it takes a true warrior to deliver that passion to the commercial world. Although life is filled with creative individuals, I think there are two efforts that should be used as illustrations for how businesses can be successful through fresh thinking.
The Haiku Guys & Gals: Defending creativity with antique typewriters and three-sentence poetry
This troupe of creative writers has one mission: to provide a custom poetic gift for event attendees. By writing haiku using antique typewriters, their on-site performances provide a unique experience to attendees of corporate and agency events as well as personal events such as weddings.
But how did they lift their idea off the ground? While using haiku to publicly engage people for an interview project on entrepreneurship, they identified and nurtured some peripheral interest in impromptu haiku writing for the public. Naturally, they saw an opportunity to add value and memorability to businesses and their brands by using innate talents for a genre of writing that until then predominantly lived in bookstores, small cafes, and academia. Yes, they identified a new commercial space but what’s more important is that they took a risk. They followed their instincts. They were not afraid to challenge the status quo—on their terms.
The proof of their success is in the media. I encourage you to read an article by Fast Company that highlights the efforts and success of The Haiku Guys & Gals in greater detail (you can also visit their website to learn more, in their own words). Or, read articles from additional media outlets that recognized and recommended their work. Either way, the adventure isn’t over yet.
The Bumbys: A clever duo for any court
We’ve all heard about writing created under a fictitious name but have you ever heard about writing created by a duo of masked wordsmiths? Probably not. But they exist, and they’re called The Bumbys! Their mission is to provide “A Fair and Honest Appraisal of Your Appearance” at events using nothing more than a first impression and antiquated typewriters. They wear headphones, sunglasses, and other coverings to block outside interference so when approached by event attendees, each Bumby can craft a paragraph of creative prose that highlights positive aspects of those attendees without the slightest bit of influence from the participants or onlookers. How did they get their start? In much the same way as The Haiku Guys & Gals—by taking creative risks and embracing a sturdy belief that the worlds of art and commerce can work together in a mutually beneficial manner—and they were right to do so.
Once again, the proof is in the media. I invite you to read an article from The New Yorker along with writing from a variety of other publications, all of which had a lot to say about The Bumbys’ fantastic appraisals. Of course, you can visit their website to view photos of the duo in action and to learn more about their endeavor.
“You shan’t thrive!”
At any point, these Knights Creative could have exchanged glances with the commercial world, shrugged their shoulders, and said “there’s no way this will work.” Instead, they embraced seemingly far-fetched business ideas, kept their feet moving forward, and never looked back. Because of that loyalty to passion and vision, the world now has two strong, vibrant, and meaningful efforts that provide real value and benefits for businesses and their audiences, which translates into success for the writers as well.
FOR SMALLER KINGDOMS
The Haiku Guys & Gals and The Bumbys are established efforts. They have staff and a solid client list. But what about young businesses? How does creative thinking apply to new businesses or those that are still nothing more than ideas scribbled on random sheets of notebook paper? Allow me to share my personal insights into this as the principal creative for a very young business.
I launched my writing business in April 2016 with copywriting as my only service. After months of no work and not even the slightest bit of progress regarding brand exposure and loyalty, I took a hiatus to reconsider my efforts. I re-examined my passion for writing to determine if I was on the right track and just a poor business person or whether my entire effort was pointed in the wrong direction. What I discovered was shocking: my core interests were not aligned with my business decisions, and that core drive had nothing to do with copywriting. I wanted to produce creative writing that was crafted from vision, instinct, and a desire to embrace something new. I also wanted to write for a loyal band of readers, a tribe, people who appreciate creative thinking and fresh perspectives and who want to engage a brand on new and interesting levels. My real passion was creative writing, and a portion of that was poetry.
Enter the jesters and masons
Sadly, there were friends who teased me (albeit innocently) because poetry is apparently an easy target for jokers. There were others who wanted to give my vision a slight makeover since shoving a square peg into a round hole supposedly never works for the average peasant. And yes, there were some who seemingly shared their opinions by not hitting the “follow” button (I guess they didn’t want to fly my standard). Suffice to say, the status quo was peering over my shoulder as I planned the relaunch of my business. That status quo continually shook its Office-Space mentality in front of me as if my career was condemned to live within a sea of cubicle walls and never-ending Hawaiian Shirt Fridays.
But I never abandoned my vision: that the commercial world can benefit from creative writing. To illustrate this, consider how often you hear about businesses hiring someone to write haiku for their blogs or websites. Well, I’ve written haiku for businesses…on four occasions. And because of that small success, I realized other forms of creative writing could be successful as well—that was proven to be true when subsequent opportunities arose for me to use real creative narrative for a photography studio’s blog articles. Another good example is my outreach to The Bumbys’ business manager regarding research that would help me develop my rates for commissioned projects. To my surprise, their business manager asked about my haiku work since they were considering expanding their performance writing into other genres. Granted, his inquiry wasn’t an interview nor a job offer. However, it was an interest in my writing so to me, that was more proof I was on the right track. In case you’re wondering, I didn’t pursue their inquiry beyond a “thank you, but here’s why I’m not interested”; the quick pace of performance writing is not a good match with my creative process. However, had I given up on my vision, I never would have received the above affirmation. Furthermore, I never would have seen growing engagement on LinkedIn and from other colleagues who are intrigued by what I do. I’d still be struggling to make a copywriting business work for me…or perhaps I would have ended my business altogether.
BETWIXT A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
Perhaps your business is in the planning stages, nothing more than ink on paper and notions floating between excited minds. Or maybe you’ve started your business and are interested in increasing momentum during the early months or years. More likely than not, your business is nowhere close to the writing industry but you’re still interested in enhanced engagement with your audience. Regardless, I view your situation as an opportunity to either play it safe or to fully embrace creative thinking as it pertains to your vision. There’s never a good reason to think “well, that’s how it’s always been done.” To do so is a commitment to struggle and in the worst case, a path to failure. Businesses thrive because they create connections with their audiences. Those connections are created through honest, memorable, and unique communication of brand and mission. If done correctly, the message is unlike any other...it’s different.
A UNIQUE COAT OF ARMS
It sounds so trite on the surface but when you take a closer look, you’ll see that being different means expressing identity and individuality; in commercial terms, it’s the fingerprints of a brand. So, before I leave you dear readers, I’d like to share a morsel from the food-for-thought pantry —my favorite quote. Although most people attribute it to Steve Jobs, it was written by Rob Siltanen for Apple’s “Think Different” ad campaign and it perfectly encapsulates the concept behind this article:
“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”