How purpose-driven creative can change the world, one home at a time

At PRDecoded, The principals of Humble Design discuss how one creative idea can define a purpose-driven organization's mission.

Great creative work is like good PR: when it's backed by insightful ideas, it can change the world, said Rob and Treger Strasberg, CEO and founder, respectively, of Humble Design at PRDecoded on Wednesday.

The couple hosts the CW network show “Welcome Home,” which follows Humble Design as it helps homeless people transition from life on the streets by redesigning a living space. Both have creative backgrounds: Treger in graphic design and art direction and Rob as a creative.

They talked about the power of creativity and its similarity to PR at a PRDecoded conference session on Wednesday entitled, Bend the World: How Purpose-Driven Creative Can Shape Human Experiences and Society.

“At the center of everything now, you have to have people talking, engaging, playing with, sharing, gamifying or whatever it is with your brand, and that all starts with an idea,” Rob Strasberg said. “So at the center of everything, it’s all PR.”

The concept of bringing creativity and shareable PR-like ideas to help the homeless came while Treger was working as a volunteer.

“I had started working with a nonprofit and met a woman, and she was homeless and that sort of was a gut punch for me,” Treger Strasberg said. “So I had the chance to take this creative spark I had and channel it straight at her like a laser beam.”

Since the nonprofit redesigns living spaces for homeless people, creativity is its day-to-day work, but it’s also central to how the organization functions.

“When Humble Design started, I couldn’t look at it any other way than from a creative background,” Treger Strasberg said. “I wanted it to be cool and I wanted it to draw people in and I immediately started thinking of it as a brand that I think a lot of nonprofits have a hard time doing.”

The focus on the way things look and feel attracts others to the cause, Treger Strasberg added.

“The idea is to speak creatively to get more people involved and interested,” she said. “Rob calls it a snowball for good that works through our creativity, through trying to engage people and ask what are people thinking, what do they want, what are they looking for, and what we have found is they want a way to connect.”

Though the goals are different, Rob Strasberg said, charitable efforts and marketing campaigns are both based on the same emotional mechanism.

“At the center of creativity, in my opinion, is the idea of empathy, because you have to have insight into other human beings,” he said. “To change and dream and move things forward in the world, there has to be an empathetic core. So when Treger came up with Humble and the idea that this isn’t just a project and we could figure out a system [to help the homeless], at the core of it was an understanding of what humans need.”

“The biggest power any of us have in any part of the business we’re in comes from the moment you step back and put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” Rob Strasberg added.

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