YOU CAN'T SELF-MONITOR YOUR WAY TO INNOVATION. A JOVIAL OFFICE ENVIRONMENT IS HUGELY IMPORTANT, AND A FEW GOOD LAUGHS CAN CHANGE EVERYTHING AT WORK.
When you're getting creative, you relax your inhibitions.
Stanford professor Tina Seelig shows us why in her book InGenius: In one study, jazz musicians were asked to improvise while having their brains monitored via fMRI.
Something harmonic happened: As the artists performed, the parts of the frontal lobe associated with judgment went quiet. This shows that while self-monitoring is often useful--you don't want to say everything that passes through your mind--it can get in the way of new ideas.
"Creative people have apparently mastered the art of turning off this part of their brains to let their ideas flow more smoothly, unleashing their imagination," she writes.
During our interview with Seelig, she explains that innovative managers make their workplaces "habitats for creativity"--which entails a break from all the stuffy self-monitoring.
That's where humor comes in.
For organizations, humor enables innovation
Why does it help? Take Pixar, where "jovial discussion" animates the culture. In Little Bets, Peter Sims writes that a playful environment is most helpful when ideas are incubated or newly hatched--and the more ideas you hatch, the more you can innovate.
People withhold their ideas if they think they're going to be judged, snuffing out innovation-sprouts before they take root. (Shame alert!) A playful culture, on the other hand, encourages ideas to be batted around, ideas which could become side projects, side projects which could become full-fledged businesses.
And for individuals, success favors the funny
As consultant Michael Kerr tells Forbes, “Humor often reveals the authentic person lurking under the professional mask.”
It makes sense: A growing body of research shows that when you share a laugh with someone, you're mirroring not only one another's body language, but also the hormonal and neuronal activity, prompting a mutual investment in each other's well-being. That's a bond of kindness--and you'll need acts of kindness to make it in any career.
Want to watch $275 Million get spent in 48 minutes? Just tune into CBS at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday to see one of America's greatest primetime displays of violence, debauchery and poor impulse control. And I'm not talking about the Super Bowl…
I'm talking about the Super Bowl ads.
In all seriousness, these days it's no surprise that independent research year after year continues to show that over half of U.S adult viewers plan to watch the Super Bowl as much, or more, for the ads than for the game itself. In fact, social listening measurement findings suggested that in 2012 64% of respondents said that half or more of their conversations online with respect to the Super Bowl were about the commercials themselves.
With the average investment of $4 Million on the line for a 30-second spot, it's no wonder why the CMOs of many of these advertisers are looking to squeeze their investment for every penny.
There are three standout trends that have continued to proliferate the Super Bowl ad space for the last several years (and by all accounts will continue even more in 2013).
01. Online Ad Preview and Teasers
Online Ad Previews and Teasers are becoming more of the norm. VW made the most famous splash last year with its Star Wars parodies that received over 56 Million hits after allwas said and done, largely in part to the pre-release of the spotson YouTube.
This year's early winner goes to the Kate Upton Mercedes spot, which in one week gained over 5 Million views (and counting).
Humbling news as, by this author's account, this is one of the more ridiculously off-brand spots I've ever seen. Given the fact that the CLA won't even be available for the next 7 months, the brand needs lasting impression and awareness. Regardless of the substance, it's clear that Mercedes knows the value of online traction and will do whatever it takes, no matter how low-brow, to get an early lead among its rivals.
Regarding the idea of Super Bowl teasers, the concept is simple,but the debate still rages on about whether or not the big reveal should be saved for the big game. While we don't promote a "one size fits all" approach to advertising, and I'm sure there are errors to the rule, it's hard to argue with the facts. Mashable reports, "According to YouTube's research, ads that ran online before the Super Bowl last year got 9 Million views, on average. Those that waited? 1.3 Million." With, on average, three times as many views online over broadcast, many could argue that the real winner in all of this is actually YouTube.
02. Ads for Social Democracy
Ads by social democracy are becoming more common in 2013. While Doritos pioneered the concept with their user-generated ads in the past few years, this year we are seeing a greater variety of the concept. For instance, one of the biggest brands in the world, Budweiser, has finally launched a Twitter account in itsname. The brand, which had a little more than 600 followers Monday morning, is using the account to promote its upcoming Super Bowl ad, which will feature a Clydesdale foal via their Twitter hashtag campaign. Pepsi is also using their site and Twitterto recruit some of their fans to strike a pose with their can before their half-time show.
But, the big pre-game winners in 2013 seem to be the "choose your own adventure" style ads from Audi and Coke. In what Audi says is a Super Bowl first, they recorded separate endings for their "Prom Night"commercial, and are compiling social votes where the audience chooses the ending. Coke created cokechase.comto tease their spots by highlighting three different sets of teams who are all racing to win a giant coke in the desert. The team with the most votes online will get their spot aired right after the game.
03. Second Screen
This year, more viewers than ever will be watching on a second screen. Now in real-time, technology allows brands to engage with the viewing public on their mobile phone or tablet during the event. For instance, Yahoo's Into_Now pioneered app technology that augments the second screen experience by using the unique audio digital signature in a television show topickup, and serve up, content directly related to that show. CBS estimates ad revenue alone from their second screen engagement to be between $10-$12 Million. Being able to interact with stats,player bios, team formations, highlights and social aspects is an essential part of any second screen approach for the sports enthusiast.
Regardless of all of the hype, a few certainties remain. The Super Bowl represents one of the highest risk: reward ratios in advertising. Because of this, marketers are getting smarter by using not only the right tools, but also the right content to get the consumer's attention. Disintermediation is taking effect and the consumer is finally starting to see large-scale control of and connection with their favorite brands. As our society gets more social and mobile, so does the advertising.
Needless to say, as an advertiser, I am thankful for the Super Bowl. If not for any other time during the year - the Super Bowl gives us an annual magnified window into the progress of advertising. With so much attention to the commercials, it almost makes me feel sorry for the guys on the field.
Yesterday a reader asked us "how do you get into advertising?", our knee jerk reaction was to ship them off to the nearest ad school for a year or so.
Then they told us more about their experiences to date and what a fascinating life they had lived. And as all of us forget from time to time, education is just a base foundation, life is what moulds you into an interesting creative person, ultimately making you more employable than the next guy or gal.
This trending video from Mondo Endruo below seemed an appropriate fit for this editorial.
Is creativity merely an algorithm? Can a machine do that thing that not even strategists can realistically explain with a set formulaic definition? I've actually seen it defined with whimsical hand movements placed mid-sentence.
BETC Euro RSCG Worldwide, creators of the Creative Artificial Intelligence (CAI) technology, determined the software is only so clever. It's built with existing creative connections. Thankfully, enlightened humans are still superior. CAI was an experiment to demonstrate just that.
...But don't let your guard down quite yet. That's rule number one in advertising survival.
1. The moment you get comfortable and complacent is the moment you become obsolete. Think about it. If your "character" is not contributing to the main plot, you are potential prey. (Especially if you go off on your own, mock someone on the team, or live in Maine.)
2. The junior creatives are always right behind you. Always. They're hungry and they don't sleep. (Encourage them and let them inspire you. Seriously, you really don't want them turning on you.)
3. Anything you think you know about advertising you probably don't. The rules are always changing. Go with it. Arm yourself with current knowledge and collaborate with other creatives. (Whatever you do, do not take that shortcut you heard about from one of the locals. It never ends well.)
4. If an idea is dead, don't assume it's going to stay dead. An ambitious idea always has one last shot at reality. Theoretically, it could resurface at any time – with more power. Ideas love to avenge their own deaths. And, idea sequels are always in the works. (If the idea has access to a hockey mask get the hell out of there.)
5. Do not try to unmask creativity. It shows up where it wants, when it wants. It's everywhere and nowhere. It laughs maniacally and probably hangs out in a sweet lair during it's downtime. Whatever it is, it's certainly not a single software program. (Sooner or later, in a shocking orchestra-crescendoed plot twist, you'll realize it was actually you all along.)
Advertising enthusiast, idea-driven creative, relentless pursuer of insight Jennifer Hohn is a Senior Art Director at Vladimir Jones in Denver. This piece is cross-posted from Jennifer's blog.
But – and it’s a very important but – you have to do them because they not only provide the framework and inspiration for creative teams to start creating their magic, but they become a piece of historical reference on the brand that ensures people won’t post rationalise the execution and miss out all the little bits that made all the difference.
That said, the debate of what should and shouldn’t go in a brief still rages and I find that sad because at the end of the day:
+ You should never be a slave to the briefing format, the briefing format should always be a slave to you.
+ Different people like different levels of information so a ‘one size fits all’ mentality, is totally and utterly ridiculous.
+ A short brief shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring the real issues that need to be addressed & conveyed.
+ A long brief shouldn’t be an excuse for not being clear, concise and interesting.
+ Regardless of what you are being asked to do, a brief should always be interesting, informative & inspiring.
Because of this, we have a few different briefing ‘formats’ here.
Some are designed for more junior guys to ensure they’ve done all the critical thinking necessary … some are designed for clients to ensure they give us what they need, rather than what they want … but all cover 6 critical questions.
1. WHAT IS THE GOAL
What is the end objective? I don’t mean the execution but the business result.
In short, if they say, “We want some TVC’s”, ask why and don’t stop till you get some real reasons with some real quantifiable goals.
2. WHAT IS THE BARRIER
What are the key issue/s that are stopping this from happening right now.
It might be people’s attitude and behaviour … it might be a competitors product or distribution.
Maybe it’s an issue with our brand or communication or even a product quality or lack of innovation story.
Whatever it is, find the fundamental issue and write it down.
3. WHO DO WE NEED TO TALK TO, TO CHANGE THIS?
Who do we need to engage in conversation? Who do we need to inspire, inform, push?
Don’t just write a bunch of stats or bland statements, explain how they think, live, worry, behave.
Let people feel the person not just read a bunch of cold, clinical bullet points.
4. WHY WILL THEY CARE
This is where blunt honesty is needed.
You can’t write this from the perspective of what the brand wants them to think, it has to come from the audiences mindset. If you’ve done your homework for the previous question, you’ll know the answer to this … and if you’ve done your homework well, you’ll know the answer is not going to be some marketing hype/bollocks, but something that satisfies a real need in their life – be it emotional, physical or mental.
5. SO WHAT’S OUR STRATEGY?
Detail the macro approach you are taking to achieve this brief. It should be short, precise and full of creative mischief.
ie: Deposition the key competitors as ‘old success’ by making XXX the badge for ‘new, entrepreneurial achievers’ … or something.
6. WHAT’S THE KEY POINT OF VIEW
Based on the goal, the barrier, the audience and the strategy – what is the brands point of view on the issue they need to address.
It should be something that is obviously based on truth but also full of tension and pragmatism.
ie: “You can’t change tomorrow if you don’t act today” … or some other z-grade sounding Yoda impression.
Don’t rush it. Take your time to really craft it because apart from needing to be relevant to the task in hand, it also serves as the creative ‘jump off point’ and if you’re going to help your colleagues do something that is powerful and interesting with it, you’ve got to ensure they really feel the tension and energy of what they can play with or play off.
You might ask why things like ‘tone of voice’ are not mentioned.
Well sometimes they are … sometimes they’re not … it depends on a number of factors, however at W+K, we place great importance on ‘brand voice’ so a few abstract words like ‘fun, upbeat & lively’ are not really going to cut it.
I should point out that how you brief your colleagues is another incredibly important part of the creative process.
If you give them a piece of paper and tell them to “read this”, you’re almost doomed before it’s even had a chance to begin.
While the brief should be inspiring on it’s own merits, it’s always good to think of ways to let your colleagues really understand what you are trying to get across.
That might mean you present it in a different location or environment to the office … that might mean you put them in situations where they can really feel what you’re trying to convey … that might mean you get interesting – yet relevant – people in to chat to them before you go through your hard work, but whatever you do, it’s always worth putting in that extra little bit of effort because it will genuinely pay dividends to the work that comes out the other side and that is ultimately what you’re going to be judged on.
At the end of the day it’s worth remembering there is no such thing as a perfect creative brief because ultimately, it’s about what you put on it – or how you present it – rather than what it looks like … however what I can say is that from my experience, as long as you have a culturally provocative point of view running all the way through it [obviously based on truth rather than 'marketing truth'] then you stand a much greater chance of creating something that affects culture rather than just adds to the blunt, advertising noise.
When the world was introduced to desktop publishing thirty years ago, proper punctuation marks and kerning pairs were not brought to the party. Foot and inch marks were used instead, and they weren’t exactly the best stunt doubles. Today, I expected a more savvy designer pool with an arsenal of modern tools to rectify this problem. Nope.
Then again, should I expect such a giant leap in only a quarter century? After all, 200 A.D. saw the rise of woodblock printing, a practice that ran the show until 1476 when the printing press was born. It was an era where typography used to be a specialized occupation filled by highly skilled artisans. It should be no different today.
When your keyboard isn’t set up for smart quotes by using the foot and inch key, you can create the proper marks on an Apple keyboard by the following keystrokes. To kern using your keyboard, use Shift-Command combination with your bracket keys shown below.
Tip: Use a serif font punctuation on san-serif design for more pronounced typographic presence. San-serif punctuation marks tend to be lifeless.
Bad kerning (or tracking) is equally destroying design. It’s 2012. We should have enough computing power today to accurately plot any two letters together with good spacing between them. And yet, our design software still struggles with how to negotiate visually-appealing kerning pairs. I’ve noticed the worst infractions between upper and lower case letters. The Heinz example below has issues so obvious, it’s hard to imagine what designer, art director or creative director signed off on this. POUR ABLE MUST ARD. Really?
Tip: It’s ok to have letters crash into each other to create correct letter spacing. The R and A in pourable need to touch due to the negative space created by the slant of the A. The B had to move to the left slightly too to close-up the white space.
Dr. Pepper recently ran a national campaign with a blatant kerning error. That is, unless the 10 Bold T Asting Calories was the primary message.
Now, look at this “Professional Sign’s & Lettering” company mark (of all businesses). Yes, they did use the proper apostrophe over inch mark, even though it’s still grammatically off since chances are unlikely the company is owned by some guy named Sign. But all the points they scored were lost when they left a gaping hole between the n and s. But we can give extra credit for the use of Brush Script.
Tip: Reduce the size of your apostrophe and lower its relative position to characters in the word. This gives it a better lockup in the word. You don’t have to accept where your design program plots your punctuation.
If I had to just kern one thing on any piece of creative, I’d spend extra time with your headline—especially if your layout is type and/or copy driven. Because when your all-type headline layout looks good, it is your visual. Treat it that way.
Good typography isn’t always about where the computer places your 26 characters. It’s about how it looks, flows and feels to the reader. And that takes effort. Effort takes time. If you don’t have time for good typography, another line of work might be in order. Goat herding, perhaps?
The inspiration to make something culturally and psychologically strong enough exists when you get back to what blew your mind.
For just a moment, you’re a kid in 1970s suburban Los Angeles, ok? Pedal your bicycle to the big Topanga Canyon Boulevard record store. See what I saw: an epic, billboard-sized reprographic image of Pink Floyd’s album, Wish You Were Here, bolted to the side of the record emporium and taking up huge amounts of sky. Big record company marketing budgets could afford to blow a lot of minds in those days.
It was a mysteriously huge, Godzilla-sized piece of pop-surrealism that captured my imagination: A man on fire obliviously shakes hands with another suited man. It’s a random meeting in an abandoned soundstage backlot, like a dream in constant production. The handshake, a blithe and obligatory social grace, appears to hide the true burning intensity of ulterior motives. Or is that something about the fear of getting burned?
This was all the proof I needed for what I had suspected in my young mind all along: People are weird. And deep and funny. And this was weird, deep, and funny marketing.
I got lost in a new kind of alchemy, a mixture of what I both did and did not understand about this album cover. I actually liked not understanding the imagery. There’s power in mystery. Though I knew the marketing for this album was about dreams. Not Disney-esque life goal dreams, not those dreams, but the unsettling world of dreaming. And was this a billboard for an uncomfortable dream? Pink Floyd knew how to show you how dreams really feel. That’s what they do. Later, I’d find out that they made music, too.
Something else that astounded me—although I didn’t know how to name what it was in my monosyllabic, child mind. I can find the word now. The imagery was alluringly unwholesome.
Unwholesome? Yes. Every bit of product marketing I had ever seen in my limited time on earth seemed to dance a giddy dance of the effusive, wholesome-hypnotic, the good—and good for you—wash of the brain. Secret ingredient: sugar. (Or, substitute the word, trustworthiness).
This album cover on the other hand, was marketing that used dream language to call no bullshit, and for me, great marketing began with that album cover.
Eventually, I saw how this imagery shared the same surreal power of the Buddhist monks who had self-immolated in protest of the Vietnam War. Add the imagery of Rene Magritte’s Victorian men floating in the sky, perhaps. That was the era. The era of the inner mind meets social upheaval.
Artwork for Wish You Were Here had a power that purposely reached for what was wrong and yet beautiful about the world.
Like most album covers produced during that slim psychedelic and post psychedelic creative era, meaning and hidden meaning trumped safeness, and it’s difficult to not regard album artwork created of that ilk as a true slice of cultural honesty through the language of symbolic imagery and playfulness.
Chances are, like me, you’d recall the marketing you probably don’t regard as actual marketing, but as something meaningful enough to feel and recall on a deeper level.
That might require you going back in time. When you were a kid. When you were raw-minded. Re-experience what affected you, the unspeakably good montage intro or trailer to a film, the world of colors in the Maoist propaganda poster you saw on Canal Street in NYC, an album cover you forgot you loved, a commercial that rocked your world, a PSA that pulled like a maddened emotion, desperate to free itself from the leash of the everyday.
That’s where the inspiration to make something culturally and psychologically strong enough exists, because it’s still living psychologically and culturally in your mind. That is, if you believe that marketing is actually part art, part storytelling, part psychological event, and is powerful enough to act as a sociological medium that does something amazing.
All businesses, no matter what they make or sell, should recognize the power and financial value of good design.
Obviously, there are many different types of design: graphic, brand, packaging, product, process, interior, interaction/user experience, Web and service design, to name but a few.
In this post, I am referring to design as a broad and deliberately applied discipline, with the aim of creating simpler, more meaningful, rewarding experiences for customers.
You see, expecting great design is no longer the preserve of a picky design-obsessed urban elite—that aesthetically sensitive clique who‘d never dare leave the house without their Philippe Starck eyewear and turtleneck sweaters and buy only the right kind of Scandinavian furniture. Instead, there’s a new, mass expectation of good design: that products and services will be better thought through, simplified, made more intuitive, elegant and more enjoyable to use.
Design has finally become democratized, and we marketers find ourselves with new standards to meet in this new “era of design.” To illustrate, Apple, the epitome of a design-led organization, now has a market capitalization of $570 billion, larger than the GDP of Switzerland. Its revenue is double Microsoft’s, a similar type of technology organization but one not truly led by design (just compare Microsoft Windows with Apple’s Lion operating system).
Every day my Twitter feed populates with astounding growth facts about the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Pinterest and the more recent travel site, AirBnB. It is no coincidence that these successful brands seem to really value design and utilize it to secure a competitive advantage.
Even the UK government has issued its “design principles,” naturally on a clean, easy-to-navigate website.
But why have people become so design sensitive? Why does that credit card mailer look so bad and dated now? Why can’t you access my account details? Why does airport signage seem so unhelpful? Why doesn’t that technology plug and play?
Perhaps Apple’s global dominance has elevated our design expectations, or Ikea’s vision to bring great design at affordable prices to everyone on the planet has finally taken effect, or perhaps the Internet has taught us what well-designed user experiences and good design really are. Likely, it is a combination of all.
What is certain is that the design bar has been raised and design-oriented businesses are winning.
Think how swiftly and strongly a design experience shapes our opinion of that brand, company or store, for good or bad. For instance, we know quickly when a website is bad. And we associate that feeling of frustration, or worse, disappointment with that brand.
Design-oriented organizations invest in thinking this stuff through. They put design at the heart of their company to guide innovation and to continually improve products, service and marketing. They recognize that a great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profits.
First Direct, a UK bank, has designed all its service touchpoints so carefully that it has become the most referred financial brand in the UK, with over 82 percent of customers happy to recommend it to friends. It’s a joy to use via any channel, and despite being a bank, I’d happily recommend it.
When you buy Apple Care, instead of receiving the standard bland letter or email, you receive a nicely designed box containing the paperwork, guidance and all the information you need. You have questions? No problem. There are clear user diagrams and a simple section on the website to help you.
The impact on brand is that customers see these brands as both progressive and customer-centric. Thoughtful and innovative design makes us feel good. It is no surprise that we are happy to advocate them, talk about them in social media and can be fiercely brand loyal.
As Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney, once said, “A brand is a living entity—and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” That thinking still holds true, but it all happens a lot faster now. Thanks to the Internet and a hyperconnected, social-media-fueled society, brands can be instantly undermined and that experience shared with millions.
So this is a call to action for executives to recognize this new era and make the effort to transform even a mundane product or service into something more rewarding and more memorable. Try to assess each element of your service or product and better it—to see design not just as a marketing thing but as a genuine source of competitive advantage, customer and employee satisfaction and, lastly, a route to higher profits.
The article is interesting, but I wonder if there is more at play here.
If you’ve ever gotten me liquored up, you may have heard me mention my belief that the internet is forming the foundation of what will eventually become the first artificial intelligence. Which is to say, I believe that someday, our collective activity online will reach the right density and type and the connections between us will become synapses. Somewhere in the digital aether a light will go on and a new kind of life will exist. The first self-aware machine, born of the wetware of a billion+ humans.
If you take this as a given (!), that we are all nodes in the network of a massive machine, then our move towards transparency begins to look more like system optimization on a cultural scale, encouraged through new memes and behaviors, as expressed in all sorts of unexpected ways, like Foursquare checkins, reality television and CEOs volunteering their failures.
A lie holds no information beyond what it says about the lie teller. An exaggeration stated in conversation does nothing but breed false expectations in the mind of listener. A great experience not shared is done so at the detriment of the collective. If my laptop was forced to run on the inefficiencies inherent to the day-to-day communication styles of a typical person, one full of nuance, assumption, and false starts, its processor would slow to a crawl and burn out altogether.
From the Next Web article:
I’ve literally stopped telling little white lies because it’s much easier to be honest. Instead of cancelling a meeting with a PR rep and using the excuse “I’m not feeling well,” I say, “I’m exhausted and taking tomorrow off to go to the beach!” because I know I’ll likely take a picture of my beach trip on Instagram and wouldn’t want to get caught in a lie. And you know what? Most of the time they just say, “Have a great time!”
As a society, we’ve had 10,000 years to choose to be open and honest with each other, and we have generally chosen not to. But now we’re at a point where new technology plays a critical role in our lives, and technology has no use for our half-truths and doublespeak. They are disruptions in the flow of information. As we are all becoming parts of the machine, our relationships with each other are being ground down to purer, more efficient forms so that they can be put to better use.
We are becoming more honest because it increases the speed at which information can travel. We are becoming less private because to withhold valuable knowledge from the rest of the network is to act selfishly. We are becoming more transparent because that is what the evolution of technology asks of us.
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” - Steve Jobs, Apple Inc.
Focus and simplicity are the most valuable aspects of a well-defined strategy. As Steve Jobs aptly pointed out, these can be the most challenging part of crafting direction for a team or an organization. By mastering this discipline and translating marketing challenges and product features into a tightly focused and actionable creative strategy, an agency becomes invaluable to its clients.
The most important job for the account management role within the agency is shaping and validating a sound creative strategy. The resulting tool is both concise and very powerful, defining what must be accomplished or conveyed to our target audience in order to meet the client’s marketing objective.
Upon receipt of a well-constructed creative strategy statement, the creative team should have absolute clarity and confidence in the direction provided and feel at liberty to explore any and every option that effectively serves the strategy. The evaluation of ideas can then be as simple as an assessment of which concepts best serve the agreed-to focus, rather than drifting into an evaluation of different strategic approaches.
The Anatomy of the Creative Strategy
The creative strategy statement for each project is based on research, discovery, and discussion with the client. The development of the strategy by our team serves two purposes: First, it demonstrates an understanding of our client's business and the marketing communications challenges of the task at hand. Second, the endorsement/approval of the strategy statement by the client empowers us to aggressively channel our resources and thinking toward a single focus.
Avoid too much
A creative strategy statement should be limited to one page. The intent is to define the only thing the team should concern itself with in the creative process. By concisely defining our broader objectives and clearly articulating what we must convey, we can accomplish that objective.
This is not an opportunity to repackage hundreds of pages of market research, forensic competitive analysis, and media analytics. Having these available as reference resources is useful, but it is the job of the account lead to distill this down to an actionable, salient, focused strategy.
Avoid too tactical
Discussions with clients often leap forward and become prematurely tactical. The focus is on scope, deadline, and budget. A tremendous amount of energy and emotional equity are placed on defining how something is going to get done with an insufficient investment of time discussing why something should be done. A good agency partner ensures that thehow is balanced with the why, and that the team charged with executing is equipped with the information they need.
Executional requirements and considerations should be referenced in the strategy, but these should be considered as support information.
Avoid too benign
A creative strategy statement should serve up a single, proprietary focus that can be creatively leveraged at the expense of the competition. It must differentiate the product or service and express a valuable, marketable advantage that becomes the basis of the message.
Since the strategy is providing the guardrails for the creative, concepts will fall inside the guidance provided. If the strategy is framed in a narrow scope with little to differentiate it, the creative will be bland, uninventive, and ineffective.
Look to the Past to Improve Your Future
We started this post talking about how difficult it is to be simple. In order to build the best strategies, you must take a critical look at your past efforts and improve by degrees with each assignment. In addition, you can use successes of the past to frame future documents.
First, find the most successful creative within the agency. Then look at the creative strategies that guided these efforts. Discuss the strategies with the creative team to see what they liked, what they didn’t like, and how they found the strategy helpful in the creative process. Then use this information to guide your own efforts.
Whatever you do, be strategic. Take the necessary time and effort to build the best creative strategies you can. Understand and take pride in your role as strategist, as you are the first – and maybe most critical – step in producing great work.
Special Thanks to inferno for sharing their editorial content.