Do you need some fresh ideas for your next video? Are you trying to avoid making another “talking head” video or typical typography animation?

Well here you go…

What, do you think I’m going to just give my new ideas away? Heck, no. I’m going to give you other people’s ideas!

The concept is this: look around you, find creative examples on TV, the web or anywhere else, imagine how these ideas could be tweaked and used for your project, then combine the ideas and present them as samples, so your client understands your new approach.

People have been using others for inspiration since the beginning of time. Here are 4 easy steps to borrowing ideas and creating new ones – then having them at the ready to pitch your colleagues and clients at a moment’s notice.

Step 1: Find Ideas

I used to walk around taking pictures of sunsets, people, and interesting vistas. Now, I also photograph advertisements, and I’m always on the lookout for something new. I recently snapped a photo of a Dunkin’ Donuts poster promoting their new Almond Joy drink. It’s a top-down photo of their drink (looks like hot chocolate) with a smiley face created from the bubbles in the foam. What a simple but engaging idea. I snap pictures of billboards, posters in train stations, or book covers – to hold on to ideas that could be built upon for a future project.

Step 2: Remember What You Found

I used to see commercials all the time and think “what a funny idea, I should do something like that”. Problem is I’d forget the name of the commercial or who made it. Now, I make a point to jot down the tag line and company so I can look it up later on YouTube or iSpot.tv. It’s amazing how useful that can be when you suddenly need an idea. Instead of saying, “Ever see that commercial with the hilarious lady in the glasses?”, you can show the Hunter Douglas commercial with Iris Apfel as an example of quirky humor and great set design.

Step 3: Organize the Ideas

Create a folder on your desktop, Dropbox, wherever you want, and put your favorite creative ideas there. It’s a reference guide for the new inspirations that could one day be useful for a client project. How about an engaging on-camera host? Ever see the Hulu spot with Anna Kendrick? Here it is… 

4 Foolproof Steps to Borrowing Your Next Great Video Idea

Step 4: Pull it all Together

You never want to rip someone off. You want to combine ideas and add your own twist. And by having the ideas library at your disposal, you’ll have ready-made concepts to present to your team or your client as examples of what you can do. “Let’s make something that looks like this… with the humor of this… but with a creative call to action like this…” Ideally you combine ideas to create something new that meets the goals of the project and makes it unique.

I leave you with a quote that I found in a great book called “Steal Like an Artist”:

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

-David Bowie

Most people would agree that Bowie was one of the most unique musicians of our time. If he can steal ideas for his creative vision, we all can!

By John Lawrence, Creative Director