Kairos and Creativity
Great writers use the concepts of kairos instinctively – but anyone can learn the basics and start using them to create compelling content. (Kairos is a Greek word for a unique moment of opportunity – when the right message at the right time has a desired effect. It involves understanding everything possible about the context of the communication.)
Using kairos in the creative process reminds me of the difference between pure science and applied science. The creative process is like pure science – exploring something with no real objective except to learn, discover or express. Put kairos into the equation and you’ve got applied creativity – creation with a specific purpose.
Kairos and the Creative Process
The principles of kairos inform and energize the creative process. No matter what type of project, the art of kairos can help establish the best possible connection between client and audience.
Learn as much as possible about the client’s business persona. From the initial consultation through copy approval and publication (and beyond), knowledge is power. Make sure to understand the client’s expectations – which they may not even know at this point. Dig deeper to find out what makes the client and their business tick. Visit their website and social media pages. Find out how their stock is doing, who their competitors are. Look at their advertising. Do your homework.
You’re the client’s proxy in the creation of the message. Like a relay racer, you come alongside the client, matching cadence and speed as they hand over the baton. You’re a team – and you must be in sync. You align with the client’s persona. It’s your mindset during the creative process. It’s just like in physics, when two waves meet – if they’re in phase, there is harmonic power and amplification of energy. If not, there is a cancelling effect.
The same goes for the audience persona. The client may have profiles and demographic data about their intended audience. Run with that – but don’t stop there. Dig a little deeper. Actually think about these people. They are not abstractions – they’re real people who have attitudes, opinions, wants and needs. Something to gain, something to lose. Put yourself in their shoes. Think about how to reach them through the message you will create. You’re in sync with the client; now it’s time to match frequency with the audience.
Every element of context matters. Geopolitical factors, socioeconomic issues, the changing tides of public opinions and world events. Cultural, social and religious paradigms. Even planetary phenomena. These factors are the backdrop against which the message will be created, delivered and received. The more it is in phase with the audience’s energies, the more it harmonizes these disparate factors. Physics, again.
The Creative Bubble
Creativity. The ability to generate something new out of … something else. Now comes a deep dive into the creative space. Here, all things are possible. I call it being “in the bubble”. It’s a kairotic sphere where all the Venn circles of context are taken into account. Like beams of colored light, the area where they merge forms the “sweet spot” – that region of white light where perfect illumination occurs. As a creator, you look for that white light. Because when you see it, you know you’re in the right tunnel. Now it’s just a matter of getting to the light at the end of that tunnel.
(Here is where you turn on the afterburners of your creative jets and pour on the secret sauce.)
At best, every project is a collaboration between the creator and the client as you work together to refine the message. It’s inspiring to work with a client when you’re aligned and in sync. Any extra effort taken in the alignment phase pays off in this stage.
Now it’s time to pop out of the bubble and come back to the surface. If you’ve done your job well, you’ve crafted the message in the client’s brand voice. Like a carrier wave, it will resonate with the intended audience – that is, its energetic frequencies will harmonize with theirs. The message connects with the audience and moves them to do something.
You’ve used the right stuff in the right way at the right time. That’s kairos!