Why MKTG’s new Associate Creative Director Ben Scott isn’t afraid to ask “All the Stupid Questions”
5 minute read
Blame Ben's eccentric curiosity for asking all the "stupid questions" - but he never fails to ask right ones.
MKTG Canada recently hired Ben Scott as its inaugural Associate Creative Director, Brand Experiences. Ben will lead a team that provides creative leadership to MKTG’s leading client roster of Canadian brands providing ideation, concept development, experience design and more.
We sat down with Ben for a closer look into his background and creative mindset.
What inspires your creativity?
My answer is not creative at all. It’s usually the least likely, or least creative things that usually inspire me. When developing creative solutions I like to be informed. I like to know what my clients have done in the past, what’s been successful, who their competitors are, what they’re doing, and what the landscape looks like, so that our team is effectively communicating in a creative way. That said, some of my most creative ideas have come from moments when I’m not really thinking about it – walking down the street, having an unrelated conversation with friends - one time I was in a yoga class laying in Savasana and this idea just popped in my head and I was so excited that I wanted to leave class early just to get it down on paper.
When you become "stuck" what do you do to regain traction?
I step away from the work. You can’t solve the problem when you’re in the middle of the storm – I think that applies to everything in life. I encourage breaks, stepping away and taking a breather. That and brainstorming. Even if it’s in an informal way and sitting down for 5 with someone and saying “Hey, I have this idea. What do you think?”
There’s something about perspective that really challenges creativity. Everyone comes to the table with their own history which informs their experience, so I find a different point of view really helps when I’m stuck – it forces you to rethink and look at it differently.
What current trends in design are you noticing and how are they influencing your approach on sponsorship and activations?
I try not to let trends influence my approach. I think it’s really important to be aware of trends, what’s current, what’s topical, and what’s happening, but keeping those on the periphery. My approach is very client-centric, so it comes down to making design decisions that are right for each client. We’re in the business of branding so it’s important that our decisions are informed and hold true to that brand. That doesn’t mean we need to always design with branded colours and imagery, but it still needs to feel like it’s a part of the same family, the same source, and we’re consistently communicating that reliable brand promise to their clients.
At the end of the day, regardless of your business, you’re trying to secure brand loyalty. Traditional marketing and promotions will always be around, but activations have the ability to push it one step further by immersing the audience - it’s a full experience that stays with them because they’ve connected with the brand. For me I create from someone else’s shoes, the consumer’s perspective, so it’s all about the experience and I’m excited to bring that thinking and that approach into the work we do for our clients.
Who do you follow on social media for creative inspiration?
Again, I like to know what’s happening for my clients, so I follow their accounts and their competitors just to see what’s happening in those categories. I also follow other established brands that know what they’re about. A consistent brand promise is surprisingly challenging for some companies, so I like to see it done well.
Creatively, I follow artists on Instagram that are so far from being branded and at the other end of the spectrum from our clients, but that’s where the inspiration comes from: the way a photo is cropped, different materials used, or the way a colour is applied. I think we all see those things and take away our own interpretation. And that’s why working with a team, whether it’s here internally or with our clients too, is so great because we all come to the table and brainstorm with individual interpretations. I think the juxtaposition of information, insight, and individuals is really the art of an activation.
Do you have any books/magazines/websites you’d recommend?
I’m all over the place. I definitely read Strategy magazine, and Applied Arts to stay current within the Canadian market. I listen to different podcasts like Design Matters on my commute, BUT I don’t look to these for the answers. They definitely can be inspiring, but so can a walk down the street or traveling. Culture is what really inspires me because, again, it’s a different perspective, a different lens to look through. I think that’s why I (along with everyone else) appreciate social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest so much: it’s an assault of visual information at your fingertips that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to during your daily routine.