A client asked me to review their advertising creative brief and I was shocked by a few things. The brief was 8 pages long. There were many features but were no benefits. There were no consumer insights. If your team is struggling with advertising, the first place you should look is the creative brief. Sadly, it’s becoming a lost art and a lost skill for too many brand leaders.
The role of consumer insights
At Beloved Brands, we believe the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. A brand is a unique idea, perceived in the minds and hearts of the consumer, consistently delivered by the experience, creating a bond, power, and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. The role of Advertising is to create a bond with consumers, establish your brand’s positioning and drive a change in your consumer’s behavior that leads to higher sales, share, and profit. We believe that any advertising must do something that changes the consumers’ behavior. And to change their behavior, you need to fully understand what they think today and what you want them to think, feel or do in the future. That’s where insights come into play. While you can paint the picture of the consumer by defining their profile, the insights bring it to life.
A good target not only decides who is in your target but who is not in your target.
As you figure out where you are playing, defining who you are serving and who you aren’t serving helps provide focus. Ongoing measurement and adjusting should look at how well you are doing versus your target in terms of share, preference, purchase intention, brand funnel scores and panel data. As well you should track your research against the target and mass population. In terms of choosing target segments, you can break it out by demographics, psychographic, geographic and usage occasion or behavior.
Insights serve as a connection point between the brand and consumers
The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”. What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relation to your brand or category? It’s not just data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth of the explanation of the underlying trends or feelings that caused the data. Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices. Insights need to be interesting or intriguing. My challenge is to think beyond just the specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends that could impact changing behaviour.
Insight is not something that consumers ever knew before. That would be knowledge not insight. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only one who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight inspires us and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.
Good insights get in the SHOES of your consumer and use their VOICE
When writing consumer insights, we recommend that you should start with “I” to get in the consumer’s shoes and that you should frame the insight by using quotes to use their voice. Too many brand leaders out there just jam facts into the brief, usually directly connected to their own brand and think that’s insightful. I love using this example: “in Brazil, people brush their teeth 4x a day compared to only 1.7x a day in North America–is that an insight?” And most times, people will say “yes, that’s an insight”. While it tells something, think of how much that statement doesn’t tell you about Brazilian brushing habits. What insights can we garner as to why Brazilians brush their teeth so much? Is it related to how social Brazilians are, spicy foods they eat, the vanity of the people or attitudes to overall healthcare? Without insights, we may know the fact, but don’t know what’s beneath the fact.
The case of the crazy bank who targetted everyone
Using the Banking example above, look at how little the facts tell us about how consumers feel about longer banking hours. The basic facts are they’ll use the bank more and spend more, but how can we use that as a way to connect with consumers and create a bond between consumers and the brand? Yet, when we dig a bit deeper and get in the shoes of the consumer and use their voice, we would hear them say: “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours. I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. It was this type of insight that led to the bank producing a print ad with a woman doing a head stand with the caption that said “I go to yoga after work, so I switched to a bank that has flexible hours”, which achieved the best ad tracking results in the bank’s history.
How quitting smoking sucks
The second example came from my experience when I was a Pfizer, managing the Quit Smoking brand teams, with the Nicorette and Nicoderm brands. The insight in the Nicoderm brief read: “There are no real competitors. But studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit.” Again, facts say very little and give the agency nothing really to work with. The work we did around the psychological impact of the brand really changed how we managed the brand. Even in focus groups, you could see the irritation consumers had just talking about the times they had tried to quit. We brought this irritation to life through this consumer insight: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.” It was that ad that produced this TV ad for the Nicoderm brand. There is no way the facts alone would have provided the creative team with such insight.
Here are the six questions that a brand leader should answer before even starting a brief:
- Who is in the consumer target? (Who is the most motivated to buy what you do?)
- What is the benefit we are selling? (What is your main benefit?)
- Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up what you say)
- What’s the long-range feeling the brand evokes (What is the Big Idea for the brand?)
- What do we want the brand communications to do for the brand? (Strategic Choices)
- What do want people to think, feel or do? (Desired Response)
Consumer Insight is the necessary starting point to creating a powerful bond between the consumer and brand
To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.
With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.
You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.
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Beloved Brands: Who are we?
At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.
We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.
We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.
We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.
Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand
- Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
- Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
- Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
- Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
- Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
- Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.
To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching
To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training
If you need our help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 416 885 3911
You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.
Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.