Arguably things today are moving faster than ever. With the advent of new media options such as social, digital and search media, the list of tactics is longer than ever. Opportunities come to brand leaders needed quick decisions and even faster execution. Brand Managers are running like crazy to get everything done. Quick phone calls with the agencies and emails to keep everything moving along. So many times I’m seeing teams spinning around in circles of execution and I ask to see the brief and the answer is quickly becoming “Oh we didn’t have time to do a creative brief”. You always need to take the time to write it down.
Elements of Communication Strategy
First off, I would hope that every brand has the discipline to do an advertising strategy that should answer the following six key questions.
Who Do We want to sell to? (target)
What are we selling? (benefit)
Why should they believe us? (RTB)
What Do We want the Advertising to do? (Strategy)
What do Want people to do? (Response)
What do we want people to feel? (Brand Equity)
Once you have these six questions answered you should be able to populate and come to a main creative brief. To read more about writing a full creative brief follow this link: How to Write an Effective Creative Brief
Back when we only did TV and a secondary medium it was easier. We’d spend months on a brief and months ago making the TV ads. The brief was approved everywhere, right up to the VP or President level. But now the problem is when you’re running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, you decide to wing it over the phone with no brief. It’s only a Facebook page, a digital display ad going down the side of the weather network or some twitter campaign Who needs a brief.
If I could recommend anything to do with communication: ALWAYS HAVE A BRIEF.
The Mini Creative Brief
Focusing on the most important elements of the brief, you must have:
Objective:What do we hope to accomplish, what part of the brand strategy will this program. Focus on only one objective.
Target:Who is the intended target audience we want to move to take action against the objective? Keep it a very tight definition.
Insight:What is the one thing we know about the consumer that will impact this program. For this mini brief, only put the most relevant insight to help frame the consumer.
Desired Response:What do we want consumers to think, feel or do? Only pick one of these.
Stimulus:What’s the most powerful thing you can say to get the response you want.
Going too fast sometimes takes too Long
If you choose to do it over the phone, you’re relying on the Account Manager to explain it to the creative team. Days later when they come back with the options, how would you remember what you wanted. If you have a well-written communications plan, this Mini Brief should take you anywhere from 30-60 minutes to write this. The Mini Brief will keep your own management team aligned to your intentions, as well as give a very focused ASK to the creative team. When you need to gain approval for the creative, you’ll be able to better sell it in with Mini Brief providing the context.
Pressed for Time, Try Out the Mini Brief
To read more on Creative Briefs, follow this presentation
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I’m not a media expert at all. So there will be no answers here, just questions about where I might be confused about the future or where I might see an impact to my media thinking. I come at everything through the lens of the Brand Leader. My questions are more about the impact on consumer behaviour and how the brand can win through media in the future. If you’re a media expert, feel free to add solutions. At this point, like most Brand Leaders, I’m a bit confused and I just have questions, not really solutions!
1. Will people watch even more TV in the future?
I love asking this question because it usually confuses people, because of the expected downward trend of TV viewership over the last 10 years. At first, this question might sound crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access everywhere, we should expect a shift to watching more TV, not less. This year, books are up 13% due to increased readership via tablets. Will we see that impact to TV? More access means more use. If you’re on the subway, an airplane, waiting to pick up your kids or on your lunch hour, wouldn’t it be great just to catch an episode of Modern Family? Now you can. And while this is at the early stages with early adopters, we’ll quickly see it going mass over the next few years. But the TV model will have to change. Consumers won’t want to be watching 8 minutes of TV ads. It seems people see their computer as their personal space and they find intrusive advertising even more annoying on their computer than they do their TV. We need a new model for TV advertising–I haven’t seen it yet.
As a Brand Leader, I recommend that you don’t give up on TV just yet. Maybe it will be on a tablet or a phone. Just be a bit more creative. Maybe you need to make your spots more interesting to take advantage of viral shares. Make sure your spots are more engaging so people want to watch rather than just tolerate. Be open to integrating your brand right into the shows, or maybe go back to the past when brand sponsorship kicked off every 1950s TV show.
2. How can Advertisers Capture the Internet Babies (12-22 years old) as they move into adulthood?
As someone said, this segment never “goes on-line” because they are “always on-line”. They are never “off-line”. Last year, my 14-year-old daughter had 3 friends over and when teens visit, you have to expect a bit of excess noise. All of a sudden, there was silence for 20 minutes. I thought they must have left but then I see four teenagers all sitting at the kitchen table texting away, not a word being said. Complete silence. This generation lives on-line and put their lives on-line. It remains confusing as to their true view of privacy–do they want more or do they just figure their lives are an open book.
This group has their priorities shaped by the age of instant access. They want everything now–sports scores, rumours, or videos of what they just saw on TV. They are multi-tasking so much it’s arguable they never give anything complete focus. When they watch TV, they have the laptop up, their cell phone in hand–navigating Facebook, twitter, texting, instagram and Skype all at once. No wonder ADD is growing. They choose Apps over software, expectingan App solution for any problem they have. They see advertising as completely ubiquitous and are more open to brands than other generations. But how they consume media is completely different. E-Commerce is an expectation, as they buy songs, games and movies or a new phone case at a whim.
As a Brand Leader, we need help to figure out how to win with this group when they turn 25? I know as a parent of this age group, I have no wisdom I can pass on. Maybe someone in this age group can help us out, because I’m utterly confused.
3. Can Newspapers even Survive?
So far, newspapers haven’t figured out the profit model between the traditional broadsheet and the on-line versions. Making it free was likely a mistake, and makes it hard to turn back. If your newspaper has been free on-line since 1997, I’ll be pissed off if you now expect me to pay for it. If I’m interested in the topic, I’ll just Google the same headline and find a free version. As long as newspaper publishers see a direct link between the actual broadsheet and the newspaper they run the risk of extinction. If you think a newspaper is a collection of amazing journalists, you’re off to a good start. But if you think it has to be a broadsheet, then you’re completely lost.
News now is instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social. The tweeting that went on during the US presidential debate (e.g. Big Bird) is evidence of how social media drives the story. I don’t need to read a journalists take on it. I already know. By the time the broadsheet version of the newspaper is ready, this story is now old news and even has had 12-18 more hours to evolve into a completely new story line. The broadsheet can’t keep up. I love the business model for the Huffington Post. What started as on-line political opinion is becoming a source for broader news–entertainment, sports and lifestyle stories. With more publishers going without a printed version (e.g. Newsweek just announced they’re cancelling their printed version), this has to be the future.
As a Brand Leader, I’d recommend moving your Newspaper spend on-line or even choose other mainstream media options. You’ve put up with the bad production quality for 100 years–is there really anyone under 50 still reading.
4. Can Advertisers Figure Out how to Win in the New World?
The Commodity Brands that have funded mainstream media remain completely confused.
Traditional media has always been funded by advertisers whether that means TV ads for 8-12 minutes per hour, newspapers and magazines with 25-40% of the space for ads and radio with ads every second song. Traditional Media has been free as long as you were willing to put up with advertising interrupting your usage of the media. That ability to interrupt consumers allowed the Commodity Brands (dish soap, diapers, toothpaste, razor blades and batteries) to break through to consumers, as they sat captive and watching their favourite TV show.
But New Media is free, unbridled and fairly commercial free. In general, a lot of the advertising still just sits there along the sidelines where we don’t click. While the high interest and high involvement brands have started to figure out how to use the New Media, the Commodities remain in a state of confusion. If you want to see what confusion looks like, go see Head and Shoulder’s twitter page with 320 followers or Bounce’s Facebook page “where they talk about fresh laundry” (their words, not mine)
These Commodity brands need to either get people more involved, which Dove is the best in class brand, or they need dial-up the potential importance for a core target which Tide has done a good job. As we see many of the new media companies (Facebook) struggling to figure out how to make more money from Advertisers, there needs to be a step up in creativity to find new solutions. Banner ads that just sit along the side aren’t going to do much for the advertiser or the media owner. If social media sites want to win over these commodity brands, they need find that right balance of interrupting consumers without annoying their membership.
5. Are there too many Social Media Options?
I know there are still new social media options every month, but most of these feel fairly niche. In the mainstream social media sites, we are seeing that winners have emerged and they are turning into leaders as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In and Wikipedia all now dominant in their given area. It looks impossible for a new entrant to really challenge them. If a new entrant were to try for leap-frog strategy, these leaders would just duplicate the innovation and kill the challenger. Every industry has gone through a similar pattern: early innovation, divergence of brand options, then a few power brands emerge, and then a power play where the strong squeeze out the weak through mergers and acquisitions until there are a handful of brand owners remaining.
As these Social Media sites look to turn their power into wealth, we will see a shift from fighting for members to fighting for advertiser dollars. This will likely force a convergence of social media options where the strongest brands try to squeeze out the smaller sites. There are already small signs in Google’s strategy they are thinking this way–trying to be the one stop shop. Mergers are always tend to surprise us, almost the unimaginable. Can you imagine Facebook buying LinkedIn? Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a merger between social media brands and mainstream networks. AOL already tried it with Time-Warner. But can you imagine Google buying CNN, Facebook buying MTV or NBC buying the Huffington Post? If you’re an Advertiser, expect some uncertainty in the next few years and expect a few mergers.
6. Will New Media people ever be able to Convince Brand Leaders of what they Should do?
Marketers love what they know. It feels safe. The people who spend 100% of their lives living and breathing new media know what Brand Leaders don’t know. The problem is there is no bridge between the Brand Leader and New Media. New Media don’t really get the marketers, don’t understand their motivations and how they think. So they just keep barking and no one is listening. Here are some tips: Start with the consumer and map out how they interact. Don’t start with the media. Demonstrate to me that you understand my brand: who is my target, how do they shop, what is my main benefit, the key issues I face, strategic options available and how my brand makes money. Show me things other brands in my predicament have done and the results. Be fundamental in the way you talk with me. Look at how I was trained, strategy first, tactics second, execution third. Go in that order so I can follow along. Don’t show me what Bud did on the Super Bowl. Teach me as much as you can, because if I have more knowledge I’ll be more comfortable. And help me to sell it in, because everyone above me is even more confused than I am. Right now, we are a little scared and we’re doing this because we know we should, not because we know what we’re doing. Help us.
When It Comes to New Media, Brand Leaders still need to be Fundamentally Sound
For a Media Overview that can help Brand Leaders get better media plans by learning more about both traditional and digital options, read the following presentation:
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How to Write a Creative Brief. The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan. To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink: How to Write a Creative Brief
How to Write a Brand Plan: The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about. However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise. Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan: How to Write a Brand Plan
I run the Brand Leader Learning Center, with programs on a variety of topics that are all designed to make better Brand Leaders. To read more on how the Learning Center can help you as a Brand Leader click here: Brand Leadership Learning Center
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About Graham Robertson:The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand. I only do two things: 1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better. I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth. And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.
I’ve always loved Ikea. As a kid, I’d pour through their catalogues reconfiguring my room in my mind. Most recently, I took my 13-year-old girl to Ikea and she must have said about 38 times “I’m serious Dad, I want that.” I can sympathize.
Ikea is fully committed to creating magic for their consumers, whether it is in product designs or in their advertising. Whether it was the Ikea Lamp Ad (“Many of you feel bad for this lamp. That is because you’re crazy…”) or the Subway ad where they took a plain and boring subway car and turned it into a lively home you could live in. Ikea was in the same class as Volkswagen where they’d surprise and delight you on a regular basis. However, over the last few years, the ads seemed to be missing the magic—I was trying to understand the symbolic nature of the ads, but it wasn’t really connecting with me. The risk of talking to yourself is you don’t connect and you lose your beloved status. Ask the Gap.
But this year, Ikea has begun to make their advertising comeback, thanks to the powers of Leo Burnett who can turn brand purpose into brand magic. And while Ikea always had great ads, it was always hard to piece these ads together until “Long Live the Home” came along this year to establish a Big Idea in the marketplace. The work is truly beautiful.
One of the hardest things to do is come up with a Big Idea for a Brand, especially in the case of a Branded House. For a case like Ikea, the idea needs to be big enough to establish the brand idea, yet still sell kitchen cabinets, chairs and closets. Internal conflict gets in the way of creating a Big Idea and standing behind it: a) how much brand vs product b) how much equity vs selling c) who makes the ad and finally d) who pays for it internally—brand or product marketing? You really need to commit to making it happen, and gain the full support across the organization—usually starting from the Top. Big Ideas like “Think Different”, “Just Do It” and “I’m Loving It” are some of the best examples of Idea lines that connect the brand with consumers and even transform their way right into the culture of everything they do. That’s where Ikea needs to go next.
There are many brand and business benefits to a Big Idea. Big ideas should have a 5-10 year life, giving brands a consistent idea to connect behind. It makes it easier to come back to the brief each year. Also, there becomes a tone, a character and sometimes a series of devices that help frame the Idea that makes it easier to control how the brand shows up, over time, across various mediums and across the various business units.
Ikea follows the best in class use of the Big Idea, with a 60 second anthem style Ad to establish the Big Idea in the consumers mind, and then separate product ads across various mediums and built into the website, in-store and catalogue. The TV ads are beautifully shot and connect on a deeply emotinal level, the print ads of high quality and connect. I really like the unique product Ads they’ve done wheter it is TV ads that sell kitchens or print ideas that sell closets, while staying within the Big Idea.
However, I didn’t notice the idea making its way when I looked at the store level. I’d love to see “Long Live the Home” be built right into the Ikea culture, brought down to the store level and even begin to influence their customer service. The big idea becomes more than a tag line, but rather a promise the brand stands behind at every stage of the brand. Without the full comittment to brand all the way through the Love Curve, the magic of the great advertising and cool product designs sets up a High Promise that Ikea struggles to deliver at the experience stage and leaves consumers yearning for more.
That commitment to brand at every touch point has helped propel the Apple brand to the next stratosphere of Beloved Brand. Ikea, you’ve done such a fantastic job with the advertising, my only ask is that you keep going to make it part of the brand.
As a bonus for fans of past Ikea Advertising, here is Lamp and the Subway Spots.