Good ideas don’t just come out of nowhere: they emerge off the back of other, less good ideas. The more ideas you have, the more likely you are to get to the good ones.
As Steve Jobs said, “creativity is just connecting things.” It’s a little more complicated than that, but it’s true that you can stimulate new ideas by connecting things that come from different places.
Making associations between existing reference points and your project – however extraneous it may seem – can lead to interesting new connections, that ultimately breed new ideas.
Don’t overthink it: even the worst ideas could lead to the best ones if you stay open to all possibilities.
Nick's steps for forging connections
First... think of a brand, product, or place, then list out as many associations as you can think of. This could be a particular colour, a material, or a way of doing things.
Now... bring your own project to mind. Could any of these elements be applicable, or lead to new ideas? Write them all down.
And... don’t worry about whether they feel right or wrong: just put your mind in their space for a bit and see where it takes you. Where might you now go?