Finding Value in Creativity


What’s an idea? The mere concept of an idea is difficult, maybe even impossible to perfectly define. Even notable philosophers couldn’t seem to agree on what an idea truly means. The Free Dictionary Online indicates that according to the philosophy of Plato, the definition of an idea “is an archetype of which a corresponding being in phenomenal reality is an imperfect replica.” The web source goes on to say that according to the philosophy of Kant, “an idea is a concept of reason that is transcendent but nonempiral.” But, even Hagel said it differently. He claimed that an idea means “absolute truth; the complete and ultimate product of reason.” In the dictionary, the definition of an idea reads “something, such as a thought or conception that potentially or actually exists in the mind as a product of mental activity.” To me, an idea is something that begins as a glimmer; a mere flicker in the mind that can suddenly grab hold, and unfold through any period of time, like the single root of the ivy plant that grounds itself deeply into the soil before it grows upwards, clinging to a wall with its tiny tentacles, reaching out and hanging on, until it forms its own shape and dimension. The ivy grows and grows, like no other ivy plant in existence, and reaches for the sun in a way that suits itself in order to flourish. Like an idea, the ivy didn’t plant itself. Someone had to place it there. The gardener of the ivy had to have foresight to buy or rent the house, invest in the fertilizer and the soil and the tools; he had to invest in the plant and spend his time digging the hole and planting it in the hopes that it would grow.

Like the gardener; promotional products professionals must make an investment in time, be committed to the outcome of the marketing or advertising strategy, and diligently work to understand and meet the client’s needs and objectives, while delivering on time, on budget and perfectly to spec. That’s a lot of footwork and fancy dancing, and I think we would all agree that the products we sell in this industry compensate us for that. But, what about the ideas you generate…those tiny seedlings of thought, that grew and took shape and added a dimension to the project or the campaign that were unlike every other idea before it…those absolute truths…those nonempiral transcendent concepts of reason…those imperfect replicas…what about those? Those ideas, my friends, have value and I’ve searched this industry far and wide and can’t seem to find many companies who bill for them. We give them away as if they have no value. Yet, in many cases we work and think and create and build and brand like an advertising or a marketing agency would. The only difference between us and them is they bill for their creative time.

I wonder why?