Whole Brain Thinking:

Creative Strategy

By Justin Rubenstein, Strategic Planning Intern


There are so many words in the advertising industry that it’s difficult to keep track of them all. While some terms aim to describe the traditional elements and processes, others are newly coined to identify emerging trends. As an aspiring wordsmith myself, there’s one such term that continues to confuse me, despite having taken a class on it in college.


Creative Strategy


It sounds oxymoronic. How did two, such contradictory words fuse together? What do they mean? What does creative strategy mean for businesses and organizations? Teams? Individuals?


As one of the research interns, I went around the office with cue cards in hand to survey employees. I asked random individuals to respond with the first word that came to their mind upon reading the cue cards.


Creative Strategy

Everyone                       Options

Advertising                   Agency

Light bulb                     Imaginative

Ideas                               Art

Plan                             Analytical

Games                         Department

Defense                       Innovation

Clarity                         Brain



Creativity is the veins and arteries of an advertising agency. It reaches everyone from business leaders to interns. It’s a cyclical process that always provides feedback. Yet, like all skills, creativity can be learned, developed and practiced.

Strategy is the heart of an advertising agency. It is a constant force that drives all agency activities. Like creativity, strategy is another skill that can be developed and practiced.



Creative Strategy

Never satisfied, confusion, advertising, clear ideas,

improbable, center-brained, correlations, uh…I don’t know


I received many looks of confusion upon presenting this cue card. I, too, once held a similar look on my face. However, there’s no need for confusion.


Creative strategy  flows in through every department, every person and every aspect of an agency and all businesses and organizations.


In cognitive psychology, a theory called the brain dominance theory identifies specific processes that occur in either the left or right hemispheres of the brain. People sometimes refer to themselves as a more right- or left-brained individual, denoting which hemisphere is dominant over the other.


Right Brain Left Brain


Wholes and relationship between parts

Synthesis – to put together

Simultaneous, holistic thinking





Parts and specifics

Analysis – to break apart

Sequential thinking



“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey, 2004.


By superimposing the word associations for creative and strategy, one can see that they are truly opposites, in terms of brain functioning. However, creative strategy brings it all together. It is a crossover between the right and left hemispheres and is the key for optimal brain performance.


For individuals and businesses alike, creative strategy and optimal brain performance are best showcased in goal setting.

  1. Use the logical left-brain to distill the situation to its core elements.
  2. Use the creative right-brain to craft and word your goal, mission or objective.
  3. Use your whole brain to continually remind yourself and/or your organization of where you hope to be.


Aristotle once said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In their own right, creativity and strategy are each powerful tools on one’s belt. Creative strategy takes it one step further, providing the pants upon which the tool belt sits. So make sure you reached all the loops around your waist, your belt is tightly buckled, and your tools are firmly strapped in place because your individual and/or business development awaits.


Justin is a senior at TCU studying strategic communication and Spanish. He enjoys playing racquetball, sleeping on the floor with his three dogs, and playing board games with his friends.

Dieste Inc