This past week I have had the unique opportunity to part of something very special. I attended the Virginia Commonwealth University/Brandcenter program Digital Leadership and Management  Skills for Creative Directors.  There I was able to gain insights from several presenters from various disciplines within the industry.  The list included the following presenters:

Ryan Anderson – Director, global Brand Management Westin Starwood Hotels

Rick Boyko – Managing Director Brandcenter & Former Chief Creative Offices and Co-President Ogilvy & Mather North America

Brian Collins – Chairman & Chief Creative Officer of the Brand Integration Group – Ogilvy & Mather

Rob Rasmussen – Chief Creative Officer & Executive Creative Officer Tribal DDB

John Adams – Chairman & Chief Executive Offices The Martin Agency (AdAge agency of the year)

Jerome Austria – Co-Executive Creative Director Wieden & Kennedy

Nancy Vonk – Co-Chief Creative Officer Ogilvy Toronto

David Sable – Vice Chairman & Chief Operating Officer Wunderman

Don Just – Former Chief Executive Officer The Martin Agency

Kelly O’Keefe – Managing Director Brand Center & Chairman O’Keefe Marketing Adweek Southeast Agency of the Year

The group of industry leaders all had a common theme to their discussion.  It is all about the BIG IDEA.  Their collective view was that without the big idea, everything else are just tactics that have very little importance to marketers.  Furthermore, their view was that tactics and even strategies that don’t get to the root of a problem, address it and find a way to change or impact the culture in which the companies resides, or most often unsuccessful.

They described fundamentals that pushed the envelope by working well past the obvious.  The process pushes creatives to drill deep into a company’s DNA and demonstrate monetary and/or market share increases that have the chance to build a new experience or brand for companies that they engage with.  However, without supportive ROI data, these opportunities rarely see the light of day.  Additionally, these strategies can go a long way in directing the entire experience of a company both internally and externally.

This is where creative ideas live.  Businesses are always on the lookout for innovative and creative strategies that are game changing and can move a company to a leadership position that can be sustained well into the future.

Companies continue to discover that to start with tactics that are not part of a well thought out plan are destined for failure.  Those that embrace this idea such as Apple and others, are the ones that continue to lead their industries by setting the standard and setting themselves apart.