Focused On Brand
We recently worked with a company that spent a lot of money on a branding exercise with a major agency. At the end of the process they got a logo, a color palette and instructions on which fonts were allowed in headlines and copy.
That's not branding.
Branding is about experience. It's what a company, product or service stands for based on the aggregate of peoples' experiences with the brand over time.
Take any company - let's say BMW. You have a sense for what they represent based on thousands of direct or indirect experiences with their cars. Maybe you've admired them in your neighbors' driveways, taken one for a test drive, owned one or two in your life, seen their TV ads, read reviews in automotive publications, etc.
All of these experiences help to shape your overall impression of BMW, and that's the BMW brand. The same holds true for cereal, soft drinks or software. Light bulbs or lipstick. An agency's job is to help define and give voice to brands.
It's part intuition. Part knowledge and experience. And partly the discipline to stay focused and true to a brand's core attributes. Mostly, it's having the creative acumen to distill everything you know and intuit about a brand and express it in a new, unexpected way that makes people sit up and take notice.
"Make the layouts rough and the ideas fancy" - Stavros Cosmopoulos
This was advice Steve Cosmopoulos, one of the founders of Hill Holiday, once gave to budding copy writers and art directors. His point was that advertising creative people - and the clients they serve - should focus on ideas, not pretty pictures and slick presentations.
It seems obvious but all too often the ideas get lost in the packaging. In the years since Steve issued his sage advice, the tools and technologies of communications art - photography, design, illustration, etc. - have become accessible to just about everyone, including those with little or no training, background or experience. This has led to a world flooded with fancy layouts, but not much original thinking.
If you're looking for a marketing partner, it's probably a good idea to understand who will actually create your ads, websites, TV spots or videos. What are their backgrounds? What brands have they worked with? Do their portfolios give you goosebumps, or a case of the yawns?
Better yet, ask to see some ideas - not just a bunch of layouts.
Planning & Strategy
Creativity is one ingredient in the branding process. A smart, highly focused and insightful strategy is another. This is the road map we use to guide and inform our thinking, whether we're creating an ad, designing a Website, producing a video or devising a digital marketing and social media campaign.
Our approach to strategic planning is designed to help clients quickly grasp the business development pathways represented by their products, content, brand, technology, culture and customer relationships, and to provide them with the tools and guidance they need to achieve their goals.
Our simple, data-driven methodology has delivered outstanding results for clients large and small, and can be scaled to reflect any need. It's a process that:
Yields insights by collecting and synthesizing relevant data from a variety of sources, both qualitative and quantitative
Creates a structured dialog focused on outcomes by breaking down information into bite-sized chunks for a meaningful discussion related to issues, challenges and opportunities
Fosters rapid decision making by enlisting key stakeholders in exploring strategic options and honing in on final directions
Clients who engage with us for strategic planning will receive:
A thorough assessment of key trends, category issues and competitive challenges served up with a healthy dose of insightful “thought starters”
Development of several positioning pathways, crafted to identify viable options for defining target market, business definition, point of differentiation and key proof points
A high-level implementation outline detailing critical steps for success
A shared conviction and excitement by all and sundry