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Opinion: Why we need more purposeful creativity now more than ever

Opinion: Why we need more purposeful creativity now more than ever

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When Japan’s highly accurate and affordable Quartz watches emerged in the 70s and 80s, the Swiss knew they needed a solid response to secure their future in a watchmaking industry marked by older and more expensive technology. Enter the Swatch watch – a revolutionary creative timepiece introduced by the largest Swiss watchmaking group ASUAG-SSIH that would become a fashion statement for generations to come whilst allowing the Swiss to remain committed to their strong design principles, which defined their heritage pieces.

More so than ever, creativity is helping companies find new ways to solve their business challenges and stay true to the value they bring to their consumers. It’s rethinking a business model or product’s existence and pushing the boundaries of possibilities for consumer relevance. Companies that foster creativity are 3.5 times more likely to achieve revenue growth of 10% or more than their peers.

These days, conversations surrounding creativity are no longer confined to just marketers but often discussed in the C-suite boardroom. The reason is simple. Creativity helps companies deliver on their purpose, and purpose-driven companies experience over 10% growth compared with 42% of non-purpose-driven companies.   

Swatch’s story is an essential lesson in business as it is in creative problem-solving grounded in brand purpose and underpinned by brand value. The group successfully created a new market without losing its watchmaking sensibilities and expanded the possibilities of its timepieces with individual and brand collaborations seen today. Applying purpose-driven creativity helped Swatch stay true to its course in the watchmaking industry but informed its products which opened doors to new customer experiences.

Today we live in an era faced with relentless shocks and abrupt shifts. Technology advancement is faster than we can imagine. Our lives are more complicated, and purchasing decisions are multi-faceted. Most consumers have reimagined their life purpose and are attracted to brands that are clear about what they want to contribute to society.

Faced with consumers with renewed purpose and brands vying for their attention, companies must understand what their consumers want to contribute meaningfully. And creativity is often the driving force to help brands deliver their ambition, see the possibilities and dream around corners.

So how can brands tap creativity as a resource to reiterate their brand value and be relevant to their customers?   

1. Scale it with technology

Creativity cannot exist alone. It is ideas fused with purpose, powered by tech innovation at scale.

Foodpanda in Singapore teamed up with advertising platform Teads to support Wateroam, a social enterprise that provides clean water to communities in Myanmar. The food delivery platform pledged a portion of its ad budget to Wateroam, with the remaining value being used to create bespoke ads that drive further awareness for its beneficiary.

This unique use of advertising budget enables brands to literally put one’s money where one’s mouth is and elevates the role of creativity into one that drives positive outcomes.

By harnessing emerging technologies such as metaverse and virtual reality, corporate VR training platform Gemba creatively took on skills training via gamification, supercharging learning effectiveness and application in today’s digital-first environment while still emphasizing a culture of continuous learning.

The use of tech advanced its proposition to clients, helping them enter a 3D environment with VR headsets that simulates scenarios for on-the-job skills training and interactive leadership training. The result was reduced training time and emissions associated with business travel, and the impact magnified through the almost 700 partners it works with.

2. Show, don’t tell

Tuvalu, a small Pacific Island nation with 12,000 people, is on the front line of climate change. Rising sea levels put Tuvalu at risk of being completely submerged in a matter of decades. A proof-of-concept through a digital twin of one of its islands, Te Afualiku, was developed, which served as the first step in building a digital nation to catalogue, map, record and save as much of the Tuvaluan island life as possible.

By embracing creativity, the government was able to garner the attention of people and governments globally for climate action and find a way to preserve their nation should the unthinkable happen. Tuvalu's message reached 2.1 billion people globally, and people from 118 countries (and counting) engaged with Tuvalu's plight at

3. By augmenting our daily lives

In Indonesia, telco giant Telkomsel connected the “ketengan” or sachet street culture with its new data packages designed to access specific digital platforms for a short time. Tapping the values of “ketengan” culture – think street-smart Indonesians who know what they need and want with little to no waste – Telkomsel successfully swapped negative perceptions around affordability among its lower-spend customers and brought to life a powerful solution that respected individuals’ way of life and profound habits.

It won the hearts of consumers and Telkomsel saw more than 30% growth in transactions. None of these would have been possible without taking a meaningful approach to the deep research and having a profound understanding of its customers as multi-dimensional beings.

Ultimately, creativity is not just reserved for brand-building purposes but can also drive business-building outcomes. It is about determining the value companies want to offer customers and syncing tech, data and human agendas to achieve it. It can change how people think about a specific category and is not limited to deploying marketing or communications strategies in an interesting way. Creativity reflects an attitude of how brands see their customers, the kind of products they want to offer and how the business can be operated to achieve long-term customer relevance and growth.

The article is written by Johnny Tan, Southeast Asia chief creative officer, Accenture Song.

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