How can creativity boost morale?

As the tragic coronavirus pandemic continues into April – affecting every touchpoint of our daily lives – one of OneAgency’s inspiring creative design team, Louise, takes a look at how creativity can be used by brands, communities and individuals to boost morale, spread joy and support wellbeing in these uncertain times.

Louise Jefferies, Creative Designer

Whether it’s a clever piece of advertising, a witty social media campaign, a well-placed colour or simply a child’s drawing, creativity has always been a powerful tool, with the best examples able to tap into a person’s psyche, affect their mood and sometimes even stay with them throughout their lives. Often when we talk of creativity, we refer to aesthetic-professional creativity, our designers, architects, illustrators and artists to name a few, but in today’s digital world it’s easier than ever to see extraordinary examples of  ‘everyday’ creativity in action and see how this is lifting the spirits of the nation.

The latest Virgin Media advert showcases creative ways that ‘everyday’ people are using technology to reach out to one another remotely, show appreciation for our carers and key workers while at the same time promoting the message ‘stay home, stay safe, stay connected’. A fine example of professional creativity showcasing ‘everyday’ creativity to great effect.

Psychologists have already predicted lockdown will result in a boom of creativity among ‘Generation Z’ as they continue to use technology in ingenious ways to remain connected with one another, stay active and keep their spirits up. In fact, while people often tend to believe boredom and constraints stifle creativity, it is argued that they actually have the opposite effect. In situations without constraints, for example, pressures on time, money and process etc., complacency sets in. A person will go for the most intuitive idea that comes to mind, rather than investing in the development of better ideas.

Although Gen Z may be leading the way on a lockdown creativity boom, we also believe that now is an incredibly important time for brands to also get creative. With so much outside our control, we seek out comfort from things and people we trust. They have the power to mentally take us back to happier times. Researchers have found that nostalgia can promote optimism and outlook for the future and even make cold rooms feel warmer. An important lesson for brands to bear in mind. Why not get creative for your customers in their time of need? In the long run, surely, this will only strengthen brand loyalty.

Burger King France is one of the most stand-out brands to give back to their fan-base in an imaginative way. Their new poster-style advert shows neatly organised, shop-bought ingredients that fans can use to imitate BK’s Whopper at home. The image-focused ad is a nod of solidarity to the country, which has been under lockdown since 17th March. Designed by Paris ad agency Buzzman, the ad was tweeted out on Burger King France’s official account at the end of March and has since received a wave of support worldwide.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the husband and wife team at online bookshop Counter Print have also got creative for the nation. When the couple’s son was sent home during the school closures, the duo turned their focus to entertaining the thousands of children now learning from home. The couple asked a number of creative friends to each contribute a piece they thought children (and adults) would like to colour in. On their website, the couple wrote that “the response has been really heartwarming” and that they hope to “make a number of volumes over the coming weeks if parents find them useful”.

The books feature charming illustrations from a range of acclaimed designers and illustrators including Anthony Burrill, Paul Thurlby and Malika Favre to name a few. But – as Counter Print says – with designs this good, why should these just be for children?

For many years the popularity of adult colouring has been on the rise, boasting a host of proven benefits. The experts say swapping your mobile, tablet or laptop for a colouring book before bed will give you a much-needed break from sleep-sabotaging blue light emitted by electronic devices, meaning you will fall asleep much easier and also get more REM sleep, leaving you feeling more refreshed and alert in the mornings. The basic and repetitive motion of colouring engages certain parts of your brain while at the same time relaxes others, including the amygdala (that’s the brain’s fear centre to you and me!) 

Adults have relatively few opportunities for play, yet it is precisely in these moments when our minds are engaged but free to roam that unexpected associations and ideas pop up, unleashing our creative genius.

London based design agency, Together Design demonstrates a perfect example of this with their latest social media campaign. The agency has looked to its designers, collaborators and friends to promote, in a host of playful ways, the ‘stay at home’ message. The only guideline they set was that it should be in the NHS’ blue and white colour scheme. More than 100 designs have been created thus far, spanning digital graphics, paintings, illustrations and sculpture. It’s a wonderfully playful, creative and eclectic mix, showcasing what we are all capable of coming up with from the comfort of our own homes.

Perhaps you want to get creative but colouring or typographical design isn’t for you. Why not start with the place you’re spending all your time? Everyone is affected by their physical environment, whether they realise it or not. So what can we do, while in lockdown, to improve our home environment instantly? Surprisingly small changes can make a big difference to bring about an overall feeling of well-being and happiness. 

Surround yourself with positive images, be it photographs, paintings or patterns. Introduce bright colours to your home; these can be in the form of cushions, trinkets or pictures, you don’t need to go as extreme as splashing paint on the walls. You could even draw, sew and make it yourself, if you feel up to it. The science of colour – known as chromatics – is fascinating, especially in relation to how it affects emotions and outlook. You could look into this online before introducing a shade to your home, to bring about your desired effect.

Children up and down the country have been showcasing their creative skills, making and painting rainbows to show support for the NHS, fuelled by the knowledge that a simple unifying graphic can spread hope to all who see it. Every day more and more rainbows are appearing at windows, each one unique and lovingly created, often painted or drawn but increasingly created in more and more inventive ways. The power of community on show for all to see.

At OneAgency we continue to practice mindfulness, focusing our attention on the present moment rather than trying to anticipate what’s going to happen next, a proven tactic to ease worry and create the state of relaxed alertness needed for creativity. Helping our clients navigate their brand through these uncertain times is where we can really come into our own. Though currently scattered across East Anglia we feel more united than ever and are always here for you should you need us.

Creativity grows as you progress, so our recommendation would be to start small, whatever you decide to do. You will soon see your mood and outlook improve as your project flourishes. If you need help you know where to find us. As Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is contagious, pass it on”.

Keep an eye on OneAgency’s Instagram to see the team’s own creative take on a rainbow for the NHS.