"Brands need more flexible interfaces where creative people can dock on more easily"

Götz Ulmer from David+Martin will be speaking at the Swiss Brand Congress on Wednesday. In an advance interview, he reveals why "outside-the-box thinking" often fails and how real innovations are created.

(Pictures: zVg. Götz Ulmer)

Götz Ulmer, you say that if you believe in outside-the-box thinking, you've already lost. What exactly do you mean by that and what could a better approach look like?

Götz Ulmer: "Outside-the-box thinking is usually used by people who are used to ticking the right boxes instead of not ticking the right boxes. There is no need for workshops, presentation cases or pack building - and, above all, a linear, logical approach. Not ticking the right boxes, in a positive sense, not only requires courage, but is the basic prerequisite for something truly new.


What do you think about artificial intelligence?

In the future, creative mediocrity will be completely replaced by AI. At the same time, it will become an even more valuable tool for extremely accelerating processes, promoting thought-provoking ideas and putting the fear of the white screen to rest. However, it will never be able to replace cutting-edge creation, as this has not been trained by humanity's previous pool of knowledge, but is always new and unique.


You advise people to distrust any idea that they think is really good. Why is that the case?

With a few exceptions, the first idea is rarely good. First ideas simply have to get out first. At some point, they make room for the good ones, the special ones, the ones that have been subconsciously nurtured for a long time. Incidentally, the best ideas are also the ones that come unasked. This is consistent with the experience of musicians who have written global hits in five minutes. The idea often seeks out the creative and not the other way around. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it any easier.


What sources or methods do you use to keep coming up with new and unusual ideas and to stimulate your creativity?

Input, input, input. Museums, podcasts, Pulitzer Prize literature, silly Snapchats, silver plate photography, indie games, comics, reaction videos, arthouse movies, any music - I soak it all up. At some point it pays off and my brain spits out something suitable.


You were in leading positions at Jung von Matt and McCann and are now at David+Martin. How has your personal approach to creativity changed during this time?

Actually, it has always remained the same. I love coming up with bold ideas or being there when they are born. Testing the limits. It's a wonderful drug. With David + Martin, I finally met a crazy bunch of like-minded people again.


What strategies would you recommend for brands to maintain and strengthen their ability to innovate?

It would be good for brands to create a more flexible interface where creative people can dock more easily within their system. Corporate structures are often not flexible enough to withstand misfits. But they should. Then there's no need for out-of-the-box thinking workshops.


Where do you see the creative industry in five to ten years? What changes do you expect?

For creatives, it will no longer make a difference whether they are influencers, creators or "advertisers". They will be able to play effortlessly in all channels. The boundaries between disciplines will become blurred. Just like rigid structures. It will be more like extremely flexible collectives than organized companies.

Götz Ulmer speaks on Swiss Brand Congress at 14:05 on the "Power of different - despite or precisely because of AI".

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