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The Rise of Creativity in a Data-Driven World

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design and creative

It’s been a tough few years for those who thrive on the spontaneous, the silly, the heartfelt… the stories. While B2B brands have spent their time pursuing the glory of innovation, disruption and transformation – creativity has been lost in a sea of vanity metrics, customer journeys and marketing qualified leads. We use data to personalize the buying experience for consumers, but have lost touch with elegance, magic and humor. Consumers can add to their carts, buy now, read more and download here, but that doesn’t make them advocates. Consumers don’t fall in love with calls to action. They fall in love with stories.

Competition is fierce, and while data is important, creativity is what gives brands a competitive edge. Creatives often view data as an enemy that removes their freedom to take risks. Marketers view data as black and white, seeing no need to tempt fate by taking risks. But, if 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales, then B2B brands must focus on creating memorable experiences for digitally sophisticated design and creativeconsumers.

Data should fuel creativity. Creativity is not about wrapping campaigns up in a pretty bow after marketing crunches the numbers, chooses the audience, writes some quick copy, and hands all the brainstorm doodles on napkins over to that quirky team sitting in the dark corner. This is an antiquated thought process, and winning brands know this.

B2B brands need to start viewing creativity as a revenue generating resource. A study conducted by McKinsey, in conjunction with Cannes Lions Festival and the Association of National Advertisers, found that marketers who have united data and creativity—grow their revenue at twice the average rate of S&P 500 companies: at least 10 percent annually versus 5 percent. What does this mean for B2B brands wondering how to compete in a crowded market? It means that organizational silos will not lead to brand success. When each team is working toward individual goals, ideas have no room to breathe, the big picture gets lost, and this limits decision-making, creativity and growth.

Embracing creativity as a resource means organizational change, and a shift in thinking. Creative leads are no longer simply the individuals making sure brand colors are correct on business cards. With the right resources in place, creative leads are the key to driving a culture of creativity, and the catalysts for hardwiring innovation into daily practices.

Creativity is as important to business growth as marketing and data. In company cultures where creative works well, design isn’t just seen as people making things pretty. It’s viewed as the way marketers make their ideas come to life. It stands to reason that any marketing team tasked with revenue generation should not only include marketers, but also data analysts and creatives.

Marketing is about consumer engagement. Consumers love Wendy’s tweets, the Aviation American Gin Peloton spoof, and the naughty Netflix tweet that sparked engagement from the likes of Pepsi, Instagram, HGTV, Petco, and Animal Planet. These campaigns were not created in silos. They were all created with the right people at the table, from beginning to end. Creativity engages the modern customer, and data is the fuel. Used correctly, data can guide and validate creative efforts to give organizations the upper hand.

Many B2B brands don’t have the resources in place to make the shift to a culture of creativity, but agency partners often offer these services. In some instances, supporting full team integration from the start.

What is PAN’s gift to you this holiday season? Our creative team. We are ready, able and inviting you to sit at the quirky table with them.

Meet the PAN Core Creative Team

Jen Bonney, Senior Creative Director (@jenbonney)

creative and marketingJen guides the development of creative solutions for our B2B Technology and Healthcare clients, as well as the agency. She’s been leading creative teams for over fifteen years, both in-house and on the agency side. Jen works with clients on the full creative experience, delivering high-quality, successful creative campaigns – starting with strategy.

Hobbies: Collecting PEZ dispensers, live music, bragging about daughter

Personal motto: Share PEZ and design cool stuff

Favorite office buzz phrase: We’re building the airplane in the air, at a high level….

Bret Kurtz, Senior Designer, Multi-Media Specialist

creative and marketingBret is able to tackle any creative problem, from website design to social media to podcasts, and everything in between. He also focuses on the video needs of our B2B Technology and Healthcare clients and is passionate about telling brand stories in order to spark an emotional connection with the audience. Bret believes that a good story is one that connects a brand to their intended audience and inspires them to take action.

Hobbies: Wayyy too many. Rock climbing, snowboarding, scuba diving… really just anything to keep active.

Personal motto: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Favorite office buzz phrase: Just checkin’ in on that… / Can you make it pop a bit more? 

Emma Glaze, Designer (@emmaglazed)

creative and marketingEmma is laser-focused on the high-impact visual needs of our clients. She is passionate about marketing and integrated creative campaign needs, focusing much of her time on visual marketing campaign pieces to support our client’s PR and content marketing efforts. Emma is a firm believer that implementing visual content into your social media marketing and content marketing strategy will attract attention and boost audience engagement.

Hobbies: Painting, bad movies, and hiking with my dogs!

Personal motto: Things aren’t always #000000 and #FFFFFF

Favorite office buzz phrase: I think this needs to be more visual


An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.