Data and Creativity: a couple just fallen in love

Data and Creativity: a couple just fallen in love

Nur Aishah Binte Iskandar, Sapera Studios

Feb 9, 2021 | 4 min

In a nutshell

With almost every individual action and interaction, data is generated to empower businesses to make the right decisions. But there are also many ways data can elevate creativity. They can be categorized into work that is influenced by the data and work that harnesses data-based technology. This article uses two examples to show how it works.

The Jetsons

Data as a resource for creativity

It’s 2021. We’re not yet living like the Jetsons, but we’re only 41 years away from flying cars*. In the past ten years, we’ve seen how technology has integrated itself into our daily lives. With almost every individual action and interaction, data is generated, providing an invaluable resource of information that can empower businesses to make the right decisions. And data can also empower creativity.

Data-influenced decisions might sound like a lot of automation devoid of any creative input. But we would have already known; data can also be used for inspiration and innovation. Instead of pitting data (or technology) against the creative process, data and creativity actually work very well together. There are many ways data can elevate creativity, but the following are only two that we will touch on:

  1. Work that is influenced by the data and

  2. work that harnesses data-based technology.

Sharpening ideas

1. Data-influenced creativity

Inspiration for creative work can come from conventional sources such as the human imagination, the environment, everyday life. But it can also come from findings derived from data.

For instance, the award-winning #LikeAGirl campaign was based on the insight that almost 49% of girls are crippled by the fear of failure, resulting in them being fearful of trying new things. It was also bolstered by the observation that the phrase “like a girl” was commonly used as an insult, implying that being female is not great. Data here presented itself in the form of social truth — providing a creative compass at the beginning of the ideation process. However, the use of data does not necessarily have to enter at the start of the creative ideation process. Data can come in at any point in the process.

Suppose that there is already an idea that is based on a gut feeling; we can validate that creative idea with data. Looking back at #LikeAGirl as an example, the observation that the phrase “like a girl” is used as an insult might have been on the creative springboard first. When paired with data showing a percentage of conversations using “like a girl” in a disparaging manner moves the observation from gut feels to fact. It is no longer guesswork but something rooted in reality. Data here comes in as a supplement to the inspired idea to validate it as a social truth.

Not only can data help solidify a creative idea, but it can also be used to sharpen it. Let’s imagine we’re working on communications for a sunscreen product. With the help of data, we would know who our potential audience might be and where they would be at. Because we know little details such as their favourite spots and activities, we might be able to add that bit of information to our ideas to target these people. Data in this way makes the creative idea more effective.

Not forgetting, of course, data available in product analytics can also offer points for optimization — sales data, product data, web data and even qualitative data in the form of complaints can shine a light on the direction of product or service development.

Inspiration at any time

Data can enrich the creation process at every creative stage.

For example, tracking Santa on his annual flight worldwide is based on real-time data as he rides through the skies. No really, but Santa trackers combine creative ideas, data and technology to simulate Santa’s flight across the world. Mapping out predetermined data points of Santa’s flight route in a simulation is an example of creative data made possible by technology.

Another fine example of creative data made possible by technology is a British Airways campaign, #LookUp. The campaign used technology to identify flights that will fly over specific locations at a certain time. The result was a magical marriage of an idea playing off childhood wonder and technology, which updates details of the relevant flight on a billboard advertising. It is, personally, one of my favourite ads. Do give it a watch.

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Tracking Santa

2. Creative data technology

As mentioned earlier, with the increased integration of tech in our lives, there’s data for almost every point of interaction — providing the added dimension of dynamism. The information offered at a point in time might not be relevant in the next hour. Real-time data is one form of dynamic data.

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Many ways

There are, of course, many other ways data can be used to elevate creative work, especially with ever-improving tech like machine learning. But I do hope that by the end of your read, you’d agree that data and creative work can work well together and should be the way to go.

*According to when The Jetsons are set. Not according to real-life data.

Nur Aishah Binte Iskandar

Data Scientist

Aishah joined Sapera in 2019. She wants to know why things are the way they are. That’s why she takes a quantitative look at them – giving them an entirely new quality.

Aishah LinkedIn
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