The Creative Study: AUFI’s Nick Bell shares the impressive journey of ‘defining the undefinable’

Poppy Thaxter
0 min read

The Creative Study: AUFI’s Nick Bell shares the impressive journey of ‘defining the undefinable’

Creativity is the most powerful part of business, but how can you measure it? This is one of the questions creative matchmaker ASK US FOR IDEAS set out to answer in their mammoth project, The Creative Study. Asking some of the world’s most creative minds to ‘define what creativity is,’ the results are both a resource and source of inspiration, presented as a narrative in a beautifully crafted website designed by Made Thought. We spoke to AUFI Co-founder Nick Bell about the huge collaborative undertaking, as well as the exciting and unexpected insights gained from the report. 

PT Hi Nick, how are you? 

NB Excellent, thank you for asking!

PT Can you tell us about how The Creative Study began? Why was the project started? 

NB Throughout AUFI’s existence, we’ve always been driven to make unique content with the agency partners we work with. Celebrating our 10th Birthday this year meant we wanted to up the ante a little, and a conversation with Made Thought (the agency we’ve worked with for the majority of our content initiatives) led to the idea of TCS. 

PT Your team worked on the project for more than six months, how was the workload balanced alongside AUFI’s ‘day job?’

NB We’ve got an amazing team here, and everyone weighed in for different elements of the project, from conception to production and execution. Basically, it was the result of a lot of people coming together, as opposed to being a load that one person carried. We also worked with some incredible consultants/collaborators, including Tristan McCallister who effectively wrote and edited the piece from start to finish. Distilling the hundreds of hours of interview footage and insights we had into meaningful narrative was no mean feat, and he did an incredible job. 

PT How did you go about deciding the content you needed, and then successfully gather it from the contributing studios?

NB We worked internally along with Duology and Made Thought to build a set of questions that would form the backbone of the study. From there, we used a digital tool called Vurvey that uses bleeding-edge video technology to interview each respondent before extrapolating data.

The Creative Study: AUFI’s Nick Bell shares the impressive journey of ‘defining the undefinable’

There’s never been a better time to be a designer.

PT What insights from the report particularly stand out to you? 

NB “More creatives are joining leadership teams, signifying a change in how brands seek to protect and promote creativity.”  // “Creativity is being deployed and measured at the highest level of organisations to help shovel global challenges.”

“Heightened expectations around design means consumers demand evermore creative solutions” – again read, “there’s never been a better time to be a designer.”

We asked creatives how they measure creativity, and “positive impact” trended massively as the most popular answer. Squaring this against a resounding 0% vote for “awards” tells of the mindset creatives are in these days, as opposed to the culture a few years ago. 

“With regards to DEI, what’s now clear is that creative service agencies, as well as the clients who engage them, have come to a crossroads: ‘Disrupt or Die’* is the attitude the right futurists will take. *William Esparza, Founder, Hyphenated. 

The report is meant to inspire as much as it is to be a resource.

PT What would you like studios to take away from the report? What were you hoping to achieve? 

NB The report is meant to inspire as much as it is to be a resource. There has truly never been a better time to be a creative. There are challenges all over the world that can in part be solved by creative and strategic thinking, and this report highlights how. Creativity can be a genuine driver for change, and seemingly now is a moment when we need that more than ever. Brands are hiring creatively minded people in the highest positions within their C-Suite. It’s recognised as a skill that is more valuable than anything else, and this report aims to shine a light on that trend, and others surrounding it. 

PT #Edition 1 suggests this isn’t a standalone project. Can we expect to see another in the future?

NB The hope is to publish a version or extension of this with fairly regular cadence. Every other year, or perhaps even annually if we can make it work and we feel there’s been enough of a shift in the creative industry to warrant another deep dive.

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