Defining Creativity and how to create great work with Sir John Hegarty

3 min readAug 3, 2020

“We are all inherently creative. That’s what makes us human — it separates us from the animal kingdom.”

- Sir John Hegarty

Sir John Hegarty needs little introduction. As one of the most acclaimed ad men, it’s safe to say that he is probably the reason most of us speak three words of German (Audi’s ‘vorsprung durch technik’), and why we still care about Levi’s jeans…

After getting fired at his first-ever job at an agency after just 18 months, he has gone on to become an unstoppable force in the worlds of advertising, brands and business. At his talk at this year’s virtual Contagious Bootcamp, Sir John Hegarty discussed the value of a brand and how we can define creativity.

“Don’t just build a business, build a brand. Because a brand is where value subsides”.

We often talk about creativity and what it means. We ask questions like: “why do people talk about creativity?”, and “why do we value creativity?”, but often skim over these questions without really digging deep to fully define what creativity is.

There are countless definitions of creativity, and in truth, there is no absolute one. But for Sir John Hegarty, creativity is defined as an expression of self; “it’s you expressing your point of view”. And it’s this definition that has been fundamental to the way Sir John Hegarty has approached work throughout his career.

Creativity and the expression of self is not the only essential ingredient for the success of brands and their campaigns, but truth is an indispensable component for any brand and their creative process.

“A brand is more than a product; it’s a trust mark. Fundamentally a brand is important because it is something people can trust and rely on”, explains Sir John Hegarty.

And this is so important in the world we live in today where fake news is sometimes dominant and we’re unable to separate what is really real and what isn’t.

As people often expect advertising to be making things seem something that they are not, brands can never overestimate the power of simplicity in their communication to convey the truth about their products.

In the hopes of steering brands to embrace their truth and encourage creativity in any process, Sir John Hegarty outlines three touch points that can be applied for creating great work:

1. Is it memorable?

Are you about to create something that is memorable? Is it going to stop people? Are they going to respond?

2. Is it motivating?

Are you saying something that is motivating? Have you created something that is going to make someone reconsider?

3. Is it truthful?

Ultimately you are trying to build a long-term relationship and establish a conversation that goes beyond just today. Make a lasting impression by being truthful — as no relationship can be built on fabrications.

Ready to get those creative juices flowing? You can learn about creativity and so much more at




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