Creative process: Please don’t dumb-down your creative work

One of the unfortunate tendencies in today’s creative landscape is the apparent effort by prestigious organizations to reach ever larger and larger markets in their offerings.

Numerous media and cultural institutions such as museums, magazines, movies, and art galleries, seem to have forgotten that they arrived at their prestigious positions of influence by appealing to audiences eager to absorb creative work that matters.

Mass marketing and communications in general has not ended well for many of its practitioners during the last 25-30 years, so it’s hard to understand why some institutions and organizations would seek to imitate mass marketing and communications strategies and tactics.

If this is an effort by these institutions to extend their educational “reach” one wonders how successful it will be if the messaging is striving more to be easily understood and entertaining than it is to be intellectually and culturally challenging.

One suspects, however, that the effort is generated largely by economic considerations.

“We have to do this stuff in order to pay for our ‘real’ work.”

But, actually, it likely won’t work. Today’s audiences are far better informed and more sophisticated than they were in days of mass market television, for example.

So, dumbing down is a trap that genuinely creative people should do their utmost to avoid.

Perhaps the worst aspect of dumbing down your personal creative efforts is that your insights will no longer be in your own authentic voice.

Instead your work will be speaking in the voice that you think a wider audience will be attracted to.

But you will not reach the audience you want by being someone other than yourself.

There is a communications and marketing homily: Try to please everybody, no-one is pleased; please yourself and at least you are pleased.

If you’re not pleased with your work, no-one else will be either.

But if you build it in your own voice, they will come.

You may be pleasantly surprised at how many people will respond positively to quality.

— Dennis Mellersh

About Dennis Mellersh

Dennis Mellersh is an independent writer, journalist, editor, and editorial consultant.
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