“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” That’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein. It underscores the idea that while creative thinking can’t simply be turned on or off, a key part of the catalyst is being open to new ideas.
While we’re in the midst of analyzing survey responses for our fourth annual creative management report, we’re taking that thought to heart. We recently poured over eight studies about creative trends published in the last year to support our analysis efforts – including the one leading the headline above – and we’re sharing our notes below.
Visual trends for 2021 according to Shutterstock
Shutterstock examined search trends for visual elements on its website over the past year. Based on billions of searches, it identified those keywords with the “highest growth year-over-year” to develop its 10th annual report on creative trends.
The report identifies 10 visual trends across five categories including, graphics, photography, video footage, music, and the “trend to watch.” A few of the search terms that stood out for us include:
Keyword searches under graphics:
- “pastel tie-dye” up 2,404%
- “alcohol inkup” 381%
- “face line art” up 536%
Keyword searches under photos:
- “non-binary” up 2,300%
- “authentic people” up 133%
- “self-care” up 177%
Keyword searches under video:
- “stormy beach” up 480%
- “dunes” up 394%
- “mountain aerials” up 1,396%
The trend to watch is “the unexplored” according to the company.
Visual design trends for 2021 according to Adobe
Adobe has some 90 million creative assets in its stock collection, including images, graphics, videos and other multimedia. How that collection gets used points to trends across four areas: visual trends, design trends, motion trends and audio trends.
For example, the company studied “signals” from customers, “artists and influencers, as well as insights found in research reports, news and social media” to identify “this year’s trends,” as Brenda Milis, principal of creative and consumer insights at Adobe, explained to Ian Zelaya of Adweek.
Here’s a summary of the visual trends:
- Compassionate collective “expresses that craving, along with the desire to connect with strength and empathy.”
- Mood-Boosting color conveys “a feeling of joy and power that is strong and defiant while still retaining a sense of playfulness.”
- Comfort zone underscores the “shift in how people use their home as a hub: a hub for family life, yes, but also for work, hobbies, learning, and play.”
- Breath of fresh air describes how “our need for immersion in nature and the outdoors to help create balance in our lives became a high priority.”
How things have changed for creatives
We know the COVID pandemic ushered in change for creatives – but exactly how much is harder to say. Adobe was able to quantify this in a survey of “600 creatives around the world.”
Among the key findings:
- Permanent change. 87% of respondents said “the events of 2020 will have lasting” effects; some 82% say the last year has changed they “how they create” forever.
- Change requires new skills. Most creatives (83%) said the change has made “it more important than ever” to acquire new skills, such as “interactive design and Web UI/UX.”
- Constraints drive creativity. Some “89 percent of creatives agree that 2020 has made their teams think more creatively than ever before” – which is a good example of finding positivity in trying times.
How long does creative work last?
How long should advertising creative last once it’s in production? Pattern 89 put its artificial intelligence (AI) to work analyzing some 200 billion data points to find out.
The answer? The average lifecycle for ad creative is 36 days – but that average varies by industry. Here’s the average ad creative lifecycle across several representative industries:
- Sports and entertainment: 16 days
- Business-to-business (B2B): 23 days
- Retail: 35 days
- Travel and hospitality: 43 days
- Food and beverage: 53 days
- Education: 53 days
- Automotive: 96 days
Growing complexities of creative workflow
A survey by Deloitte Insights found 64% of CMOs have an in-house agency. That’s not a surprise for anyone that follows the space since things have been moving in that direction for a long time. However, the report provided pointed analysis as to “why many brands are turning toward an in-house model.”
The consulting firm said “complexities” that have grown up around creative workflow. “The proliferation of customer touchpoints across myriad social platforms and media channels can create an inefficient hand-off between external agencies and brands.”
Then it slows down the organization’s reaction time. “In the time it takes to analyze customer data, build a creative campaign, and execute it in the marketplace, the window to make a connection often closes.
Creative credit given where credit is due
Here at inMotionNow we’ve conducted our own survey of creative trends for the last four years. The latest edition revealed that most creatives and marketers (87%) say their organization is giving them the same – or more credit – for the business results their work delivers for the organization.
Some of the other key findings include:
- Creative broadly impacts marketing and sales. The value of creative work can be measured throughout the customer’s journey. For example, respondents cited brand recognition (56%), engagement metrics (51%), lead generation (31%) and return on investment (31%) as measures their business tracks to measure creative impact.
- Top challenges facing creatives. Creatives consistently identified the following as their top challenges: the speed at which creative teams are expected to work (77%); the volume of work (72%); being seen as a strategic contributor (63%); and the increased variety of digital channels that require creative projects (55%).
- The review and approval process. The survey found 83% of respondents said creative projects are approved within five or fewer rounds of review – an improvement over the previous year. In addition, 78% of projects are approved within a week, up from 65% the year before. However, 47% of creatives still spend about one full day per week on administrative duties, which is flat from the same survey the year prior.
Read more: 2020 In-House Creative Management Report by inMotionNow (Note: the 2021 edition is due out soon!)
People, process and tech behind creatives
The creative staffing and consulting company Cella polled 400 creatives for its annual survey of in-house creative trends. The findings revealed insights into the people, process and technology empowering creatives and creative work.
Below are a few of the statistics that caught our attention.
- People. Resourcing remains a critical issue for 56% of creative teams. Many are flexing to embrace “hybrid” roles such as “preditors” – a mix of project management and editing duties. Most teams (87%) planned “to maintain or increase freelance contract spend” – an idea we’ve seen reflected in our research too.
- Process. Respondents suggested internal “client behaviors” were the top challenge. The report sees this as reason to develop soft skills. We would add that process improvement and reporting metrics would also payoff here. More than two-thirds (69%) of respondents “capture and report on metrics” – there’s still room for growth.
- Technology. Some 80% of creative teams are using project management tools and 41% are using digital asset management (DAM). However, the report found about half (46%) are “still using email to share files.”
Creative ideas that never get used
Do you have creative ideas that never get used? If so, you’re not alone.
WeTransfer polled 20,000 creatives from nearly 200 countries and found “most people (72%) end up using less than half of the ideas they have.” In other countries, including the U.S., the number of ideas put into practice is even less – about 10%.
How do you know if you should give your creative idea a chance?
- 47% of respondents say they research it
- 31% rely on a “gut instinct”
- 18% ask “family, friends or colleagues,”
- 5% share the idea on social media
What’s the litmus test for knowing if an idea is good or not?
- 52% of creatives ask, “Is it original?”
- 40% of creatives ask, “Is it relevant?”
When asked what gets in the way of ideas the answers tally up as 1) work (42%) 2) money (27%) and 3) social media (26%). Indeed, creatives need space to be creative.
Learn more about creative workflow management can help make more space for creativity by scheduling a demo of inMotion ignite.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: The Creatives’ Year in Review: 16 Statistics Summarizing 2020
Elise Hauser is a product and content marketer with a passion for telling brand stories. She has produced inMotionNow’s annual Creative Management Report for 4 years, webinars, content sessions for major industry events reaching audiences of 11,000+, and of course, countless blog posts. When Elise isn’t writing about the marketing and creative industry at inMotionNow she is teaching economics and hanging out with her cat, Tucker, at her home in Raleigh, NC.