Thinking Inside the Box

At some point the term “think outside of the box” was adopted by the advertising industry to represent something like “high creative” thinking.

And I’ve never understood it.

If my job is to solve problems using creative thinking, then I need a foundation of truth to base the rationale for the thinking. If A and B, then C.

Over the years I’ve won advertising awards and built brands, and I never once thought “outside the box.” Rather, just the opposite. I built the box on truth, and thought inside of it.

“Think inside the box” just lacks sex appeal.

The trick to efficient creative thinking is recognizing the box as a container for the solution, not something to launch out of altogether.

Before we get too far I want to say—I get it. I get that what the term really means is amazing, or “high creative” thinking. But I’ve actually worked in places where too many folks believed it meant going to Mars to find some zany creative solution.

Creative solutions don’t hide. They’re almost always pretty obvious. You’ve just got to know where to look for them.

Advertising giant David Ogilvy once said, “If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.”

We concur. Too many people equate “high creative” with success. My position is always to solve a problem. To reach a goal. And because advertising supports marketing, that goal is almost always sales. When I’m doing my job well, the solutions are always creative, just usually not zany creative.

Here at Out of the Ether, we solve complex creative problems using an efficient process based on a range of variables. We ask a lot of questions. The answers to these questions become The Box. And once we have it in place, we explore every inch of that box to discover the solutions necessary to solve problems and reach goals.

We apply our proprietary process to everything from branding and narration, to websites and strategies. In fact, this process is critical to our business model. We don’t have time to go looking for solutions on Mars. And our clients don’t have time for it either.

Thinking outside the box is an exercise in inefficiency.

We think inside the box. A very smart box. A box that always contains the solution.

Let us build a box for you


About the Author

Jim Mitchem

Jim has been in advertising and marketing for a long time. An award-winning copywriter in his early days, he now focuses on things that matter as a founding partner of Out of the Ether. Jim, a US Air Force Veteran and author, is married with two daughters, and somehow manages a pack of wild dogs.

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