How to make advertising decisions

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands Explained

advertisingBrand leaders who are good at advertising can get great ads on the air and keep bad ads off the air.

You need to make decisions to find the sweet spot where your brand’s advertising is both different and smart.

When judging advertising, the most important thing I look for is to ensure the creative idea within the ad that drives the attention, tells the brand story, communicates the main benefit and sticks in the consumer’s mind. When you see a story, device, copy, or a visual that does not fit with the delivery, then you have a red flag. You run the risk that the creativity of the ad works against your objectives.

The ABC’s of advertising

I outline principles for achieving attention, brand link, communication, and stickiness—the model I call the ABC’s.

The best advertising always:

  • Earns the consumer’s attention for the ad
  • Drives maximum brand involvement
  • Sets up the communication of the main consumer benefit
  • Sticks in the consumer’s mind and move them to purchase


The best way to earn the attention of consumers within the cluttered media world is to take a risk. Do something creatively different from what consumers expect, which entertains, takes advantage of the media, and is shareable for consumers to influence others.

1. Be incongruent with what consumers expect

This technique is an excellent choice to help brands stand out from the clutter. Consumers notice when you are so different from what they expect or so different from what they are watching at the moment. Many brand leaders are afraid of this technique because it is a higher risk, less certain type of creative.

2. Entertain consumers

To gain attention, make viewers laugh, cry, or dance. People engage media to be entertained. Make your ad part of the entertainment. Be aware of the evolution of the art of creativity to make sure you match the latest type of entertainment. As much as movies, TV, or music evolve, so should your ads.

3. Use media choice to your brand’s full advantage

Put your ads where your consumers are willing to see, listen, and engage, matched with creativity to take advantage of the media choice.

4. Create shareable content

Over the last decade, everything has become about creating content that is so engaging consumers want to share it on social media. The key is to use high impact story-telling ads that are highly entertaining, deeply emotional, or inspiring enough to engage and captivate consumers.

Brand link

The best brand link comes when you connect your brand closer to the climax of the ad’s story. You should view your brand through the eyes of your consumer, resonate with vulnerable consumer insights, make your brand central to the story, and then own it. The highest brand link scores occur when your brand is not just part of the story, but it is the driver of the story itself. There are a couple of myths about what makes strong brand link scores I would like to challenge.

1. Make your brand a central part of the story

From my experience, it is not how much branding you use, but rather how closely connected the reveal of the brand is linked with the climax of your ad.

2. Resonate with meaningful consumer insights

Using consumer insights to tell a compelling human-interest story is a great technique to closely connect with your target market, then closely link your brand to the insight.

3. View the brand through the eyes of your consumer

Use emotional stories to demonstrate how the consumer engages your brand.

4. Own the story of the brand

When telling the story of your brand, make sure to amplify what sets you apart from anyone else. Create a strong visual cue, which you can build over time, big enough to repeat and repeat and repeat.


Communication is not what is said but what is heard. The best brand communication happens when you focus on the one benefit that moves consumers, by creatively amplifying, telling the story behind your brand purpose, using extreme demonstrations or powerful visuals.

Stop thinking of your ads like a bulletin board where you can pin up one more message. Start thinking as though you are shouting through a bullhorn in a crowded square. Tell me the ONE message you need to make sure the consumer hears.

Focus on one message, starting with the brief, and you will increase your message communication scores. Here are four techniques to look at increasing your brand communication:

1. Creatively amplify your brand’s consumer benefit

Bring the idea to life by exaggerating the worst version of the consumer’s enemy, to help set up your brand as the solution that will move consumers to buy. This technique results in some of my favorite Ads.

2. Tell the story behind your brand purpose to move consumers
and employees

Use your brand’s values, beliefs, and purpose to express your brand’s background story in an engaging way that will move the consumer.

3. Extreme demonstration of the consumer benefit

Find a creative extreme torture test to showcase your brand’s most motivating consumer benefit.

4. Move consumers through a powerful visual

Take what should be the obvious benefit and bring it to life through a glorious visual demonstration.


Ads that stick need to be memorable enough to move consumers. Surround your consumer with your creative idea, invest in your assets, engage emotionally, and build a deeper love with those who already love you.

1. Continue to build your creative idea

It has been proven that a goldfish will get bigger with a bigger bowl. The same holds for creative ideas. Build your creative idea over time, across various media, over many products to different targets and through multiple stories, each time adding to the idea.

2. Emotionally transform your brand

As you move from a functional to an emotional consumer benefit, from logic to passion, the advertising will begin to stick in the hearts of your consumers.

3. Investing in your brand assets adds up

Build creative and brand assets, using new executions to always add a penny to your brand to the creative advertising idea. The best sticky ads are a combination of new, relevant, credible, and different.

4. Build a deeper love with those who already love you

Tell elaborate stories that showcase why your consumers who already love you should love you even more.

New, relevant, credible, and different ads stick

Everything in the ABC’s model adds up. The ideal advertising should be new, relevant, credible and different. As we show in the creation of a brand idea, you want to find the space that is simple to gain entry on the first encounter. Your ad should be interesting enough to entice consumers to consider, unique to make consumers think, motivating to tempt and move consumers, inspirational to your team behind the brand, easily layered across every consumer touchpoint and ownable for the longevity of the brand.

How to handle yourself at the advertising creative meeting

When you are in your next creative advertising meeting, you should think fast with your instincts, while trying to represent your consumer. View the advertising through the eyes of your consumer. Try to see the work how they would see it. I would not even let my agency do a set-up to the ads. I said, “Just show me the work as though I see it on TV.” I felt any setup or explanation clouded my judgment and impacted my ability to use my instincts. As you are sitting in that decision-making hot seat at a creative meeting, here are some challenging questions to ask yourself: 

1. What does your gut instinct say?

The reality of a marketing job is you might be coming into the creative meeting from a 3-hour forecasting meeting or deep-dive financial review, or you just got back from working in the lab with scientists on a new ingredient. It is not easy to change speeds as you head into a creative meeting. 

Relax, find your creative energy, let it soak in and find those instincts. I created a “gut instincts checklist” to help prompt you for when you need your instincts. 



2. Do you love it? 

If you don’t love it, how do you expect your consumer to love it? If you “sorta like” it, then it will be “sorta okay” in the end. But if you love it, you’ll go the extra mile and make it amazing. Ask if you would you be proud of this as your legacy.

3. Is the advertising on strategy? 

Slow down, and find some thinking time after the meeting. In a quiet place alone, make sure it delivers on what you wrote in your strategy documents. Go back through the brief to make sure the advertising will deliver the desired response, and the strategic objective statement you wrote in the brand communications plan. One caution is not to use the extra time to over-think the advertising and talk yourself out of a good ad that works.

4. How big is the creative idea? 

Is the creative idea big enough to last 5-10 years? Will the idea work across various mediums (paid, earned, social) across all distribution and the entire product line? Think of being so proud of leaving a legacy for your successor to help think about the longer term.


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.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link:

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link:

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order:

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

  1. 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.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. 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.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. 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 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.


Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.



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