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“Only companies that prepare for a very different tomorrow will thrive. In short, get ready for the unfamiliar and the unknown.” Futurologist David A Smith

The best ideas are usually rooted in something – whether it be consumer insights, observations, big or small data. But sometimes you don’t have access to Mintel, TGI, focus groups or detailed research. At Now Go Create we help brands and agencies generate ideas against all sorts of different briefs and sometimes with very little to build ideas out from in terms of concrete information. We often turn to macro or micro trends to help generate ideas in these circumstances.

There’s loads of stuff going on in that big wide world out there. If you can’t see the wood for the trees, feel too close to your subject matter or frankly are in a creative black hole then there are many excellent free sources of trends that you can use as stimulus for ideas and brainstorms. Our favourites:

www.contagiousmagazine.com
www.psfk.com
www.springwise.com
www.trendwatching.com

www.mckinsey.com is great for more corporate and business-related issues and hbr.org is a brilliant source of inspiration and reading matter for all things relating to innovation.

How to do it – pick a trend that you think has creative juice – what about random acts of kindness (the trend that just keeps on giving ha), guilt free status, the internet of caring things – all free from Trendwatching. See if you can ideate against it or explore how it might affect ideas you already have.

Wherever you get your trend information from it can help to have a structured way to unpack it and www.trendwatching.com has generously created a free tool to help you along the way. If looks at drivers for change, innovation potential and basic consumer needs.

If you’re looking to inform a brainstorming session then gather a team together, choose some trends to leverage and use this tool to help or if you are stuck in a rut on a project and want a fresh perspective on it then you could work through it alone. You might also be interested in another free tool – the user empathy map which I wrote about recently here.

In our recent blog for the ICCO – the International organisation that represents PR professionals – we wrote about several trends that I had noticed as a result of judging at Cannes – you can read it in full here.