Top five tips for getting the most from a brainstorm

Top five tips for getting the most from a brainstorm

We love a good brainstorm at Muckle Media, but we’ve all taken part in some terrible ones too at different points in our previous roles. These five tips will help you get the best results when brainstorming creative ideas.

1) No idea is a bad idea
The purpose of a brainstorm is generally to come up with one fantastic idea that will lead to incredible engagement, lots of sales and maybe even an award. However, to get there, you usually need to come up with a lot of bad ideas first and certainly need to come up with lots of maybes that could be built upon to create the great plan you’re looking for. 

2) Always have a brief
Every brainstorm needs an objective, so if there is no brief make your own. Try not to make it too specific. Much like above, if you prescribe the budget, channels and hashtag before the brainstorm starts you’re not going to get the most creativity from the participants.

A perfect brief sets the scene for the campaign that’s required and has a clear and measurable deliverable, which could be anything from sales to behavioural change. Worst case you could even brainstorm what the brief is at the beginning of your session, but ideally, this is in place beforehand.

3) Always plan the brainstorm
I’ve been to hundreds of brainstorms where former colleagues were eager to be creative and the brainstorm leader arrives and just says, “Okay, what ideas do you have?”. With a good team of creatives in the room, clever ideas often still come out but to get the best chance of big ideas that will work, you should plan the brainstorm ahead of time.

Start with an ice-breaker – this could be anything from a word game to creating something out of plasticine. Next, think about the tools and techniques you can use to get people thinking. We’ll go into these further in another blog post, but it could be anything from using a mind-map to brainstorming audience personas and matching ideas back to these.

4) Think blue sky
Encourage everyone in a brainstorm to think big. Even if your annual marketing and communication budget is £100 and you are a team of one, it’s still much easier to scale down a big idea than to make a small idea bigger. It’s incredible what you can achieve on a budget if you think creatively, so try not to be constrained at the brainstorming stage. The actual delivery plan can deal with how to execute it, so the A-list celebrity might need to become a Z-list and the venue might need to be secured in exchange for a reciprocal service in kind. Great campaigns start with great ideas.

5) Encourage everyone to participate
The most creative people aren’t always the ones that shout the loudest. Much as some people like written instructions and others like verbal ones, some people like to write their ideas down and others stand on their chair shouting them out.

Think about providing post-it notes and spending some of your brainstorm with participants writing ideas down to ensure that everyone is heard. You could also try speed brainstorming where you go around the group with each person shouting out an idea. Don’t expect everyone to contribute winning ideas at every brainstorm though. When it comes to creativity, it’s not something you just switch on and off on demand. Always end a brainstorm with an invitation for people to share further ideas because you might get back to your desk to find a winning idea in your inbox.

Keep in touch
Do you have a great tip to get the most from brainstorms? Tell us @mucklemedia or email the team on

Creative workshops
To launch our new campaign planning process, we’re hosting free creative workshops across Scotland over the next few months for in-house PR, marketing and communications professionals. You can check dates and sign-up here. If your location isn’t included and you’d like us to visit your city/town, please let us know and we’ll do our best.