in Learning, Marketing

An Easy Method for Cranking Out Ideas

If you work as a creative, here’s a quick way to come up with something without having to Google it:

word association.

I find that this is the easiest method to come up with a design or idea for your project. I also find that searching for things on Google for too long can be a total timewaster and actually hinders you from creating. The time spent searching and looking at images could’ve been spent just making the damn thing, at least for me.

So for example: you need to make artwork for a company that targets men. Let’s say it’s for an adult entertainment audience but since nudity or anything explicit is not allowed, it has to be more subtle. Clever, even.

I’m using this example because I work for an adult entertainment company, it’s what I know.

My mind starts thinking of things that men could relate to: the colors blue, red, green, gray, yellow, black. I also start thinking about masculine animals – like a rhinoceros, a lion, or an alligator…just something powerful.

If it’s going to be used as marketing material, it has to invoke something that the audience desires – like power, strength, sexuality.

So I settled on creating a rhino for my project.

Step 01: always think of your target audience first.

This is the most important part of generating ideas – you must always think of who your audience is.

In plain terms: who are you making this for? Who is the customer?

In this case, it’s males who have sex on their mind and are looking for adult entertainment.

Step 02: think of a few words related to your target audience.

This is the part where you think of words – colors, shapes, cars, animals, brands; literally anything that makes you think of that audience. 

I was thinking of horny men, so I was thinking of an animal that was powerful but also had horns. Do you see the word association? It just so happens that a rhinoceros is a large, powerful and heavy animal with giant horns. You can see there’s a lot of symbolism there that men can relate to whether they’re aware of it or not.

Step 03: narrow it down to the strongest idea.

If you have a few ideas, you’ll have to narrow it down to one. You might even have to ask someone for their opinion. It would be perfect to ask someone who fits your target audience’s profile – a man in their late 20’s to early 30’s.

You don’t even have to tell them what it’s for, just show it to them to see what they think.

Step 04: execute your idea.

Now that you have your idea, you can purchase the perfect stock photo or illustration. But if you don’t have the money to buy it, you’ll have to recreate it. In my case, I had to re-create the rhino image in Adobe Illustrator.


Word association is the easiest method to generate ideas for your marketing & advertising efforts. I’m sure there are other methods, but at the moment this is the one that I’d like to share with you.


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