Mary Portas recently wrote an article for the FT with a bold statement headline – and one that certainly caught our attention.
We’ve written a couple of blogs lately with a clear focus on the importance of design and creativity in hard times. What with the government suggesting those in the creative industries need to retrain (🙄) and then seeing how a New York City OOH and social engagement campaign championed the creative arts; it seems that creativity tends to be underrated. To those with good taste though, it makes the world colourful, it is a means of escape and it is everything in between.
So when we spotted this article in Financial Times, we thought YES, just another reason to add to our long list of why we love the industry we work in.
It may have come as a shock to the majority of people, hearing that Arcadia – mother of the beloved Topshop, Topman, Outfit, and Miss Selfridge, to name just a few – has officially gone into administration. You’d think that for shops like this, the transition to a digital-only strategy during the pandemic would have been a seamless one. One they would barely even notice, what with the technological advancements in retail these days. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Why? Because they forgot that “creativity is the ultimate economic resource.” Thank you, Financial Times, thank you.
They go on to discuss how, in its prime, Topshop wasn’t just a “shop”; it was a destination with its finger on the pulse, providing a consistent experience from brick-and-mortar to website, catwalk to shop window. All courtesy of an impressive creative vision brought to the fold by brand director, Jane Shepherdson, and her team. When Jane left, Topshop just stuck to the same formula she had put in place, which might have been great at the time, but within such a competitive, fast-moving marketplace, a simple copy-and-paste approach just wasn’t going to cut it. Clearly. The brand didn’t evolve to meet the changing demands of younger shoppers and as the author so rightly points out; “the retailers who are winning today have a vision. They create brands that people feel a part of – buying into, rather than mindlessly buying from.”
Take a look at Glossier who creates a two-way dialogue with its community. Look at the clothing lines who are not just the clothes they sell, but the embodiment of environmental and social commitments they support too. Ikea situate themselves between the physical and digital aspects of retail, by always challenging themselves to innovate, but remain completely focused on its core ideals. There are so many brands who are thriving and have continued to do so during an extremely difficult and unexpected time.
“Creativity isn’t about apparitions from above. It’s about your thinking, your strategy and your willingness to innovate.”
Not to take away from the fact 2020 has been a really tough year for a lot of businesses, some can’t solely blame corona for their utmost demise. Digital wasn’t Topshop’s enemy – this could have been a chance for them to get their creative mojo back and stand out in a crowded marketplace, tapping into their target audiences right where they would have been for the entire year – online. The pandemic didn’t kill the brand, it was just the final blow because it hadn’t been creative in how it adapted beforehand. To put it bluntly “creativity in all its confounding, unquantifiable glory is also what will pull businesses through this pandemic”. Leaders must have creative qualities or recognise who in their business does, so that they can be left to run wild and free, taking their digital strategy to the next level, no matter what the world throws at them.
Drunk Animal and Topshop are on two very opposite ends of the spectrum, but there are still some correlations and ideas in this article that really resonated with us too. We couldn’t prepare for the pandemic or the effects it could have on us, but because we had such a solid, creative team behind us, we were able to very quickly adjust, adapt and reshape our brand to cope with it. And with this, we are proud to say we have not just survived; we have thrived.
Let us leave this piece right here then;
“Companies succeeding now are disrupters and visionaries – not those that put creatives in charge, but then crush them.”
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*Creativity vaccine of this nature only available at Drunk Animal Creative Studio. Get in touch for yours today.