5 Creative Practices That Earn Attention Without Asking For It

Photo by Kourtney Jackson Smith

Photo by Kourtney Jackson Smith


5 Creative Practices That Earn Attention Without Asking For It

By Alexander Tan


The other day I was scrolling through my email, overwhelmed by the amount of notifications, and mostly overwhelmed by life in general at that point. I decided I would start finally unsubscribing from email lists that I don’t even remember singing up for in the first place. As I started to open and sort through them, I realized that there are some email lists that I didn’t want to let go of, and others that I absolutely had no care for at all.


But why? Why is it that some brands are so successful at making consumers pause and hold interest in a world that is moving at 500 miles per hour?


The world is really noisy in 2017. A lot of advertising that nobody cares about, campaigns that aren’t fulfilling for consumers, and just a lot of “creative” that is a direct ripoff from somebody else’s success. As an artist and somebody who has been working in advertising for the last several years, I have found myself obsessed with trying to create things that make people stop, wonder, and most importantly, pay attention.


I believe the continual pursuit of answering this question is the clear difference maker in the success of brands and artists alike:


How do we create things that force people to pay attention rather than shouting, screaming and asking people to pay attention to us? And why is that important?


I don’t have all of the answers, but from what I can speculate, these are the top 5 things that brands and artists are doing to build loyalty through creative that doesn’t need to ask for your attention, but rather earns it.


1. Be visually engaging

Ralf Speth once said,


“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”


Meaning, nothing is more damaging to your brand than bad design. The way you present yourself is often the selling point. When the photos, video, and design that you create feel good and different, people become curious. Give people a reason to stop and say, what does this company do?



2. Tell why, not what

Think about Apple for a second. For years they’ve pushed the story of “think different” and their mission to make people’s lives better through the experience of technology. And while some of their marketing campaigns are tuned for specific products, the story continues to be the same. For a company like Apple, how is it possible to be so far ahead of the thousands of competitors in the same industry?


Well, it’s simple. Apple is more concerned about telling you why they do, rather than telling you what they do. It’s welcoming, feels like less of a sales pitch, and draws people into following a journey that doesn’t end at the life of an iPhone. Not to mention, they do a really great job at being visually engaging in every area. 


Consumers want to hear a story. They want to be provided with something they can buy into. Telling your audience why you get out of bed every morning might be a better sell than the actual product or service being offered.



3. Provide value

A lot of things look nice, but why would anyone actually read or buy into the service or product?


People pay attention to things that will increase the quality of their lives. Whether it be learned in writing, visually inspiring, or plainly the use of a product in one’s life — let it be known that there is value for the consumer. A reputation that is built on providing value creates trust, and with trust, people will pay attention to your every move.



4. Show up

Last spring I was in New York City at an event hosted by the restaurant, Sweetgreen, in collaboration with a friend of mine who is an illustrator. At the event I met a girl that worked with Everlane, and as we were talking I let her know that I’d be traveling to Portland, Oregon. She let me know that Everlane was hosting a dinner in Portland that I should stop by while I was in town. It felt good to be invited to private events by companies that I had admired from afar. 


My point is that community is important. Show up and host events that draw the type of people that you’d want to target as audience. Most daily conversation includes, “What did you do this week?” 

People talk and share their experiences. Brands that are creating experiences for people are inserting themselves in the conversation. They’re refusing to be ignored.



5. Is it worth sharing? 

The Founder of the app Popular Pays once said that the basis of his idea for monetizing social media platforms came from asking himself the question, “Is this worth sharing?”


Meaning, are the creative ideas and pieces of work we throw on the internet worth sharing with others? It’s a good question. 


Great creative is worth sharing. It’s worth getting excited about. It didn’t have to ask you to share with your friends because it’s just that good. 



It’s too easy to make things that “work” or understand what is popular right now. But what is popular right now is actually behind, in all reality. Stay ahead, cut through the noise, and take risks.


You might not always win, but it’s possible that you could win big. Tell better stories, create value, and show up. It’s the brands and artists who are continually changing the way we think that are refusing to be ignored.