By Momina Khan  |  January 26, 2017


If you don’t want your company to sink, you have to stand tall. You have to overcome creative sins. A creative sin isn’t just using comic sans; it’s all of the below (and more, I’m sure).

If you are ready to incorporate that ever elusive and undefinable pizzazz to your company and culture, you’re hiring an out-of-the-box thinker. However, it’s one thing for creatives to think outside the box, another to think outside the block. As a copywriter, it causes complete chaos to have writer’s block. In any creative environment, being blocked is an anticipated evil that only perseverance can overcome. Creatives work beyond the doubts and the competition. A creative firm ensures their client is receiving the requested deliverables on time if not before, presented from a fresh perspective.

Beyond the writer’s block, there are many speed bumps creatives encounter on a project’s trajectory. Whether in-house or an outside hire, it’s easy to ignore some of these warnings, thus deviating from the client’s service and product integrity. These seemingly harmless barriers I call, “The 7 Deadly Creative Sins.” They exemplify the mishaps that can happen during the process and how to prevent it

• PLAGIARISM – Plagiarism is reusing content and taking credit as if it were your original idea. Aristotle has said that art is imitation. That may sound like permission to capitalize on someone else’ artistic success, but imitation in a creative capacity is about learning from the good and bad and conceptualizing something different; more advanced. Movies that are based on a true story are never 100% accurate, but they are 100% inspired by someone’s story. Imitation is being inspired by your surroundings.

Imitation is how we learn. It’s how we’ve grasped our urbanized language and choreographed our dance moves. But just as we learn to talk from our parents, our voice and vocabulary are dissimilar to theirs. It’s because imitation isn’t replicating –or plagiarizing – it’s redefining the normal.

• MISCOMMUNICATION – Workplace communication – client to company – culminates in higher productivity rates. Specify and establish the parameters clearly and if necessary, often. If a clear direction is not given, conceptualizing and execution of ideas are off the mark. Bob Nelson frequently spoke on communication and the methodology behind it. “An open door policy doesn’t do much for a closed mind.” If you practice an open door policy – whether that’s through emails, phone calls, in-person meetings or granting creative freedom– make sure you have an open mind.

Part of that technological advance to our dialogue is the introduction of emojis. Tone can be very hard to decipher in virtual communication. As you compose your letter, ask yourself if you must rely on accompanying emojis to illustrate your tone. Ensuring that you can be as clear, succinct and professional as possible is all about prose and punctuation. Not a smiling poop emoticon.

• INCONSISTENCIES – Adhering your logo on something is not brand consistency. Whatever you put your logo on signifies your approval and that you are allowing that item to represent you. From the people hired to the copy written, brand consistency is at its element a cohesive message. Everything you endorse in a company – does it align with your values? Is the mission statement reflected in your actions? If branding is repetition, then make sure everyone is repeating the same concept and message. 

• DEPRECIATION – released a study early this year that speculates marketing budgets will significantly increase in 2017. No matter how much your marketing budget allows if you don’t understand the value of marketing and creative concepts you will encounter no success. Everybody has their strengths, and when hiring someone you aren’t just hiring a face; you’re hiring skillsets. Branding and marketing doesn’t always come with a guarantee; it comes with the promise of company and client engagement. Mistrusting the firm or person that can help you propel comes with a price tag. But not investing does too.

• IRRELEVANCE – Think big. Think outside the box (and block) and most importantly think how will this impact tomorrow? If both the marketer and the client are creating materials that are only relevant in today’s socioeconomic patterns, then you will be quickly overlooked. It’s all about the IT factor. Does what you are working on having IT? Defining what that means in your business begins with whom you want to target. Is it relevant to them? Moreover, can it withstand their progression in a constantly developing society?

• MEDIOCRE EFFORTS – Collaborating with someone who doesn’t believe in what they’re doing is ultimately fruitless. Reevaluate your priorities so you can dedicate your focus on what you are trying to accomplish. Doing too much with too little manpower or expertise creates ineffectual results. It’s better to be talented in one area than having ten mediocre talents. America’s Got Talent is so intriguing to us; even if someone is swallowing swords or pulling a car with their tongue, we cannot look away because we are staring extraordinary talent and skill in the face. We all know what happens when a contestant performs an underwhelming task. They get a red X. Determine if what you are doing in your company today is beyond stellar or something you should red X out of your procedures.

• STAGNANCY – Similar to a passionless, purposeless brand, is one that is not moving. No updates. No engagements. No upgrades. No incorporating your culture. Landing on a website with a Calendar of Events page circa the Y2K era is worse than having no calendar. For anyone who has studied biology or those who have watched Kevin James’ Here Comes the Boom, you have learned that if a body cell is stagnant, it is useless. It assumes to have a purpose through its mere existence but in reality only sits there. (Similar to your Facebook page that hasn’t been touched in six months.) If you’re not moving forward, falling or taking a lateral step, you’re going backward.

There are many other errors, mistakes…sins one can commit from a creative perspective. However, knowing and then implementing that knowledge is the beginning of the battle. As long as there are people, there will be marketing – selling ideas, innovations, services, and products – to fellow humans. Now that you are informed of these creative sins you can proactively recognize and avoid them. Whom will you trust with your company’s brand? How will you reach someone new or reintroduce your culture today?