Our tagline at Elasticity is “Stretching Boundaries.” It may seem like just a phrase that’s cleverly tied into our brand, but it’s something we take seriously. Clients may hire us for specific services like managing social media or building a website or developing creative content for television. But what they’re really paying for (whether consciously or not) is ideas.
Ideas drive our business, as well as that of our clients’.
Which brings us to a recent project on which we worked to stretch boundaries for our client, The Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS).
DMNS regularly debuts exciting new exhibits for visitors who are often moms looking for fun and enriching activities for their children. These exhibits are usually very cool and colorful — from showcasing patterns in nature to displaying the massive bones of a prehistoric T. Rex and more.
On this occasion, the exhibit was about Stonehenge.
Now, don’t get us wrong. The history buffs here at Elasticity love Stonehenge. But getting moms (and more importantly, their kids) excited about some rocks that haven’t moved in thousands of years is not the easiest sell. We needed to find a way to make Stonehenge seem, well, more dynamic.
The team went to work and our brainstorming sessions produced a handful of intriguing and executable concepts. But one that nagged at us came via an offhand dad joke from a guy who shreds guitar licks in a metal band about how “Stonehenge rocks.” And what initially seemed like a silly aside was returned to a number of times throughout the brainstorm — each time with slightly more seriousness.
Could this be a real thing?
What started as somewhat of a joke evolved, enhanced with ideas about how rock music could be incorporated into the concept, how Stonehenge itself could be thought of as an ancient venue, how our lead designer’s experience in the music industry could be tapped to develop something authentic and cool. And at the end of the brainstorm, we said: “We can’t NOT pitch this, right?”
Thus, we did. Featured in our range of ideas (including becoming a detective to solve the mystery of Stonehenge, and how Stonehenge was, and is, built by everyone adding a bit of their own story to it) was “Stonehenge: The True Legend of Rock” with its Master-of-Puppets-inspired typeface.
Now, lest you think this some inspiring success story, the client did not select this idea and instead went with the detective treatment. But bringing them something that was not just based on lens flares of the sun peeking through the rock structure was appreciated, leading to great creative discussions.
When something is unexpected, a person’s initial reaction may be to avoid or even fear it. But all great ideas are new and scary. As creative thinkers, we must be prepared to nurture them, explain them and, at times, defend them.
The reality is that the biggest or most disruptive idea may not win every time. We can’t force clients to take what may be an ill-advised journey with us. But it is our job to fearlessly push — and stretch — boundaries and continue to bring them no matter what.
While this experience deepened our relationship with the client, it also bolstered our team. At any step of the process, this was a concept that could have been dismissed by creative directors, account managers or executives. But each saw the potential of the idea, agreed with the rationale that led us to it, and encouraged the team to keep forging ahead to become the concept we all knew it could be.
It’s that confidence in our team and our process that got us to an idea like this. And it’s that confidence that will see us continue to stretch boundaries long into the future.