The Smart Stranger: How an Outside Perspective Boosts Creativity

Written by

Gayle Ronan

Content Director

As Content Director, Gayle oversees editorial creation across the firm. With a financial background in providing banking and wealth management services—and later covering business, investment and personal finance topics for media outlets like MSNBC and Bloomberg—Gayle is most often attached to our professional service clients’ projects. With an ability to match her writing tone to the client or publication, Gayle writes across all channels, from digital ad campaigns and social media posts to blogs, authored articles and researched papers…with a few brochures and website refreshes thrown in.

Whether it’s marketing content or writing under my own byline, the goal is always about making complex concepts and products understandable to those who use them.

Fast Facts:

  • Actually likes walking the dog.
  • A fan of good street art.
  • If forced, would choose clothes over food…and actually has!

The truth is familiarity can lead to familiar solutions. Sometimes, you’re just too close to the subject to see beyond the obvious answers. That’s why including a fresh perspective can help lead to a more creative result.

Cue the Smart Stranger.

Who Is This Person?

The Smart Stranger is the person in the room who isn’t overly familiar with the industry, the client or how a particular problem has been solved previously. They’re not predisposed to respond in an expected way.

It’s not to say they aren’t knowledgeable individuals. After all, they are smart strangers. They are recognizable by their curiosity. It’s what guides them to look at a brand and immediately start pitching in to solve the problem at hand from their perspective.

Why Is an Outside Perspective Needed?

As much as surviving in our profession requires us to turn a fresh eye to each project, we’ve found having staff members who do not have a typical marketing background is also essential. This is why it’s been a staple of our creative process from the start.

We hire talent that comes from world-class ad agencies and pair them with strategy and content experts who fully understand our clients’ worlds. The reason is simple: Teams of individuals with diverse backgrounds lead to more encompassing results, the kind that speak to a broader group. They are just more likely to find solutions that address all aspects of a brand.

The end result is work that hits the nail on the head strategically, while coming across as fresh and, more importantly, different from what’s been done. This includes the bank website that looks like a lifestyle blog, a beer company’s site that feels like a community or the pool filter ad that doesn’t feature the filter but instead focuses on the quiet serenity of a backyard paradise made possible by a highly effective pump.

Again and again, we find it’s not what you know that inspires a creative solution. Those solutions come from thinking to ask different questions from unexpected perspectives—the kind that produce answers that get us beyond what we all know to be true and drive us toward a fresh solution.