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Use a compass not a map

Use a compass not a map
Freya Bronwin, Junior Planner, Havas Worldwide, on what she learnt at last year's IPA course, Inspirational Foundations.

The description of the Inspirational Foundations course intrigued me with aims to “excite the audience about the industry they are joining” and “explore why creativity matters more than ever”. After a number of talks, lots of pizza, some efficient group work and a pub visit, I can report that the Inspirational Foundations course was indeed an interesting and valuable experience that I enjoyed very much.

The two-day course was packed with a variety of talks from eminent speaks – ranging from Googlers to agency founders, media guru’s to consultants, and clients turned brand designers. The diversity in the background of the speakers was clear in their content, but at the core of each argument was the importance of creativity in creating effective work. Our pages of scribbled notes and well-crafted group presentations reflected the quantity and quality of the stimulus we received over the two days, but here I’ll focus on a few key points that I found interesting and have resonated with me since being back in the agency.

All too often talks about creativity can feel abstract, especially for someone new to the industry. Knowing that creativity ‘works’ is one thing, but understanding the how and the why and the what can I do about it, is another.  Lucky Generals’ founder Andy Nairn spoke about the different ways in which creativity can positively impact a brand. From boosting loyalty to commanding a price premium, the impact that creativity can have on the success of a brand is far greater than many appreciate. It was especially interesting to hear Andy speak about his experience working on government campaigns where the primary goal is to save money, as opposed to make money, illustrating the multifaceted nature of ‘effectiveness’.  

A common theme amongst the speakers was the evolving role of consumers in business. We think of our consumer selves as being at the mercy of brands; buying what we are told we should want, and succumbing to the ever-rising prices. But what became clear was the strength of the consumer in driving business, and how successful, modern brands are those with consumers at their very heart. Soundcloud and Uber are clear examples of brands powered by the consumer voice, demonstrating the importance of placing consumers at the core of brands and the content they create.

It can be challenging to know how to impact the creativity of work within an agency. Something that Brian Cooper from Dare said about the way people should work together within an agency that stuck with me was “compass not maps”. What I took from it was how important it is for planners and creatives to collaborate, from the very beginning of a project, and decide on a creative direction together.  The power of communication was highlighted again and again, especially as a way of enabling fluidity within the creative process. Putting many heads together to explore ideas more often than not expands them further, and pushes people to think harder.

When you first start in an industry, it can feel like everything should be learned, understood, and repeated, just the way it is, but courses like these encourage you to question process and strive for a better way of doing things. I’m extremely lucky in that the key strengths of the agency I work for are inclusivity, meritocracy, and giving everyone a voice.  Going on the Inspirational Foundation course reinforced the importance of using that privilege to be become immersed, speak up, and say something worthwhile.  

To book your place on this year’s course, visit the Inspiration Foundation page or contact

Last updated 16/09/2015

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