Have you ventured 'outside the box' today? Many businesses claim they’re innovative when it comes to the Internet, but few seem to demonstrate it. Most stay on the cushy path, eagerly following cyber herds with the tried-and-true. "Why take a chance?" After all, going outside the box can be downright scary. One group that relentlessly ventures into the unknown is "an ideas studio" named Burnkit, which is made up of 14 "thinkers" in Vancouver, BC.Founded in 2001, many of its web development projects run well into the six-digit dollar figures with a host of notable clients, including Sony PlayStation and Future Shop. Co-founder Adam Neilson attributes much of Burnkit’s success to its “think before we do” approach. “We refuse to follow rules blindly,” he stated. Case in point: when a new mutual fund company Steadyhand asked for help to gain exposure across Canada, a 1,600-pound Grizzly Bear was brought into the picture to dramatically symbolize risk. To demand attention and generate click-throughs, multiple ad units or banners were purchased on individual pages, each providing a window to reveal a part of the giant bear peering at the consumer. No messaging was used, prompting online audiences to ask: “Who the heck put this bear behind my page?” “It was a really hard sell,” said Neilson. “Not only with the client, but also with the media companies and publishers.” But the thinkers persevered with passion and got their way. The result: the client enjoyed three times the average click-through rates. While it’s typical of the success cultivated at this thinking lab, it’s not for the faint of heart, admits Neilson, who points out many companies resist cutting edge ideas. “As a result, our ideal clients are underdogs in their markets, but with incredible services, ideas or products,” he explained. “They are more willing to break ground to get noticed.” To gain trust, Burnkit works hard to build relationships with clients and will work overtime to communicate and demonstrate its point of view. But just how does the ideas studio build a culture that consistently cuts through limitations set by the rest of the industry? “We trust each other,” said Neilson. Everyone from the senior creative director to the office administrator and producers provide input on projects. “This means we can push each other to make the work the best it can be.” While inspiration comes from being tuned into advertising, particularly online, both creatively as well as technically, the team also looks to other industries to shatter mind patterns. These include but are not limited to architecture, film and fashion.

Creating a Constructive Mind

On and off the Web, sometimes you need a stronger tool or sharper tactic than your predecessors have forged. So what’s stopping you from launching as many original ideas as you’d like? That would be fear, suggests entrepreneur and author