Embrace Constraints to Unleash Creativity

Emotive Brand
3 min readOct 7, 2020


Breaking the Conventional Wisdom of Creativity

Creativity is often idealized as something that flourishes within a boundless environment and thrives under a lack of regulation. As creative thinkers ourselves, we’ve often fallen into the trap of dreaming of empty days with nothing to do but create, no person or particular task or restriction to attend to, no strict directions to follow…Without rules and impediments, the world of creativity and innovation would be our oyster…right?

But, contrary to popular belief, constraint can actually power creativity. HBR, based on 145 empirical studies, found that people, teams, and companies benefit from the right dose of constraints. Similarly, psychologists have found that limitations force new perspectives. And Tess Callahan, in her TED Talk, calls the relationship between constraints and creativity ‘an unexpected love affair.’

This data and research have huge implications for teams, companies, and brands leaning on creativity and innovation during this year where change has established itself as the new normal. Constraints, when embraced and leveraged, can be productive, enlightening, and even exciting.

Creativity Within Our Studio

When we moved our studio to remote work in March, we were unsure of how we would continue to create with the agility, passion, and creativity that’s always lived within our studio walls. At first, it was easy to think only in terms of new limitations and unwelcome rules. Lack of in-person collaboration. The inability to meet clients in person. The pressures and constraints from forces of disruption all around us: economic and beyond.

Now, months later, creativity within our studio is thriving. We can see that the constraints of ‘stay-at-home’ have forced us to rethink how we work and why we work that way. We’re thinking outside the norms to figure out challenges like collaboration, building client trust, and workshopping strategy, and creative work through emotive, digital experiences.

Our Clients’ Creativity is Soaring Too

We’ve seen in real-time that our clients have been pushed to think differently as well. The value of creativity is skyrocketing and teams are relying on creative, strategic problem solving, and solvers more than ever before. HR teams that have relied on in-person college fairs to recruit are building immersive, digital experiences that compel candidates further, with less budget. Product teams are using their data technology and applying it to solve new problems like health, wellness, and virus tracking. C-suite executives are embracing this time of transformation, using it to reassess their position and establish relevance in a market that values trust, purpose, and empathy more than ever before.

Creativity in the Brand and Business World at Large

The world is watching as today’s brands prove their creativity under dynamic constraints. Dyson saw a need, identified a capability outside their usual application, and brought 15,000 ventilators to the world. Small, local restaurants are reinventing the dining experience with QR codes and other technology. Technology companies like Whoop are working with researchers from leading health organizations and universities to help populations with earlier detection of the virus, repurposing their fitness tool as a detection tool.

Although we might not hope for the continuation of many of these limitations or challenges, embracing them as mechanisms for change, seeing things anew, and pushing what’s possible forward is proving to be one of the silver linings of these challenging times.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency in Oakland, California.

Photo Credit: https://icons8.com/

Originally published at https://www.emotivebrand.com on October 7, 2020.



Emotive Brand

Emotive Brand is a strategy and design firm: We work with executives to drive growth in revenue, brand, and culture #b2b #tech #b2c #product #growth #branding