I work with some highly creative people and also with some serious researchers. I've always been fascinated by the way research and creativity work together. My business partner and I even co-authored a paper on the role of creativity in brand building in which we equate creativity with differentiation. At first glance, one might think that research reels in creativity forcing the thought process to stay confined within strict boundaries. Not true at all. In fact, forcing creative minds to find a solution to a well-defined challenge actually sharpens the creativity. It sets the standard high and makes the ideas better.
It was with dismay that I read this article the other day about an attempt at developing an iconic brand for the State of Colorado. Surely, the team at work on this project had mountains of research (no pun intended). Why, then, could they not come up with a better and more unique slogan. We had a tourism client that used "It's in our nature" a few years ago until we moved them off of it as quickly as we could precisely because it is so overused that it has become trite and meaningless. It's used in a similar way by this retailer, this state, this region, this city, this resort and at least several dozen more places around the country. Click the links and you'll see exactly what I mean.
This Colorado incident may not definitively answer the question of which is more important — research or creativity. That's a trick question, anyway. This does, however, show the importance of having both at the same time. It's as if Colorado chose not to differentiate. As we know from our white paper, creativity means differentiation.