Sitting down with a blank piece of paper and wondering quite how I was going to switch into ‘creative’ mode on cue and start generating ideas, I thought back to my first-year degree and remembered the tried and tested method to get the creative juices flowing.
Mindmaps. A concept popularised by British author Tony Buzan, the use of diagrams to map out ideas and information can be traced back centuries.
What is a Mindmap?
A mindmap gets information out of your brain and onto paper. It mixes the logical and creative brain functions and clears out all the surface ideas that one might be holding onto when they first start a project.
The key is to just start. I’ve always found that once I get going, the rest takes shape and new ideas seem to come to me from nowhere.
Effectively, you are clearing space for new, more creative and original, thoughts to enter your head. Recording them means you can come back to them later for the evaluation stage.
Here is an example of a mindmap I generated when I began a project for my university degree:
Where Do I Start?
I find the old-fashioned pen and paper method helps me to be less structured and more free-flowing, but everyone has their own style. There are some great online tools out there for those who prefer a more digital approach, such as Coggle.
Branching out from this, all of your thoughts relating to this central theme should be noted. When starting a marketing or design project, it is normal to approach topics such as ‘Target Audience’, ‘Competitors’, ‘Core messaging’, ‘Research’, so these are great places to start!
For example, when designing branding for a tea brand, I knew I would need to research the current target audience for tea in the UK. I knew I would need to look at the competition and then I would need to understand the brand’s objectives and vision in order to create a final outcome that spoke the core message to the correct audience and stand out from the competition.
Using the mindmap method, I quickly mapped out all of this ‘assumed’ information, which freed my head to start coming up with the juicy stuff!
Below is another example of a much more rough mindmap I created recently for my degree dissertation:
Sometimes creating new ideas isn’t a pretty thing! The above was effectively a brain spew of thoughts when I was sat outside the pub waiting for my drink. Something sparked off a new idea and I got out my pad and began to mindmap. Inspiration can hit at any time!
Next, it’s time to go back over your page of thoughts and circle a few key concepts. These could be ideas you generated and ‘felt’ something about – perhaps a lightbulb moment that made you really excited. You might also pay attention to the concepts that come up more than once. These can sometimes be remnants of the ‘surface thoughts’ stage that you just can’t let go of, but sometimes they can be the key to the whole project.
It’s these ideas that I would take forward to the next stage: Idea Evaluation. I’ll be posting about this topic shortly so please bookmark my site!