Marketers need to let go of certainty and embrace creativity in your advertising

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many marketers believe algorithms, digital footprints, A/B testing and chatbots can reach a consumer at the exact moment they will buy, and then have an AI-driven message to trigger a transaction. It has become too painful to watch. They see a future of marketing that approaches perfection and are so fixated on certainty and ROI; they seem to fear the unpredictability of the magic that touches the hearts of consumers. When it comes to advertising, I want less certainty and more gut feel and creativity. 

If you are really after profit, the tighter the bond you generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profit your brand will realize. 

Make advertising your consumer will love. 

I spent my whole career resisting certainty. I had this weird quirk, that if an entire room agreed on something, that must mean we are playing it way too safe. There should be a slight fear and unknown. 

My job is to explain branding, but I am willing to leave room for that little bit of unknown that makes brands magical. 

  • Steve Jobs insisted on using the rarest of Italian glass to cover the Manhattan Apple store.  He needed the store at the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th. ROI?  Well, I was on a double-decker bus tour of Manhattan, when everyone stood up in unison to photograph the Apple store.
  • Nearly every car company has an electric car sitting in their showroom. But, Elon Musk of Tesla managed to get 300,000 people to put $1,000 down for a vehicle that did not yet exist.
  • I see that the Trader Joe’s parking lot is packed, and they outsell Whole Foods on a square foot basis, even though they have less than 10% of the items that an average grocery store carries, most use their Trader Joes brand name, and nothing is ever on sale. 
  • How does Starbucks sell an average cup of coffee for five bucks? The personality of those serving make you feel good for a tiny moment of the day, and that alone feels like it is worth way more than five bucks. 
  • Have you ever tried to get a 4-year-old to sit still? Impossible, until you give them a few pieces of Lego and let that trigger the wildness of their imaginations for hours.

Were these great ideas driven by algorithms? No way. 

We built our history of marketing through magic. Advertising legend, Bill Bernbach, made us think small or try harder. Walt Disney who made us love a mouse and seven dwarfs. Steve Jobs who put 10,000 songs in our pockets without a recording contract. Coke got a 100 college kids on a hill in Italy to teach the world to sing. Oprah told audience members to look under their seats. 

Pure magic.

Marketing research experts suggest that the right balance between brand building and transactional advertising should be a 60/40 split that favors building your brand first. Let me use the analogy of the jar we keep at our front door, where we put our loose coins. Brand building is like adding a few coins for when you need it, whereas transactional ads are like taking a few coins from the jar. If all you do is trigger sales transactions, eventually you will have no coins left in the jar. Same for your brand. If all you do is keep telling consumers to buy your brand now, eventually they will forget why they should ever buy your brand.

The best of marketers I’ve worked look into the eyes of the consumers and listen to their words. They can piece together consumer insight that reflects how the consumer feels, equal to what the highest paid psychologists could do. We touch the consumer and hope they say back to us “that’s exactly how I feel, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.”

Be careful that more does not mean better.

I crave more high-pitched debate, and desire to see lots more gut instinct.

I’d want to see someone in the meeting room fighting to do great work, and those who question with logic eventually give in because they can now feel the passion for the advertising work. I once told my wife I would quit, if one of my ads didn’t get made. But, I never had to quit because I made sure they got made.

I thirst for us to do something unexpected, whether we know it will work or not. 

A boss who says “Let’s give it a shot.”

I want us to make consumers swoon, cry, tingle, laugh, fall in love or get goosebumps.

I dream of the day in the future, when marketing will be big. 

Push for greatness. Never settle. 

You will find this type of thinking in my book, Beloved Brands.


I wrote my book, Beloved Brands, as the playbook for how to build a brand your consumers will love.

Beloved Brands has everything you need to run your brand. 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.

Available on Amazon, Apple Books or Kobo

We have the paperback and e-book version on Amazon. Click here to order:  

We are also on Apple Books, which you can click here to order:

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


At Beloved Brands, we help build brands that consumers love and we make brand leaders smarter.

🎈Help create a brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives your brand an ownable competitive advantage.

🎈 Build a brand plan that forces smart focused decisions to help organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth

🎈Align your marketing execution behind a brand idea that tightens our bond with consumers and moves them through their buying journey

🎈Use a deep-dive 360-degree assessment of your brand’s performance to trigger richer thinking before you write your brand plan

🎈Our brand training program will help realize the full potential of your brand leaders, so they are ready to grow your brand.


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

About Graham Robertson

As the founder of Beloved Brands, Graham has been an advisor to the NFL Players Association, Shell, Reebok, Acura, Jack Links, Miller beer, Earls restaurants and Pfizer. He’s helped train some of the best marketing teams on strategy, brand positioning, brand plans, and advertising.Graham Robertson

In his marketing career, Graham led some of the world’s most beloved brands at Johnson and Johnson, Coke, General Mills, and Pfizer, rising up to VP Marketing. He has won numerous awards including Marketing Magazine’s “Marketer of the Year”, Businessweek’s best new product award and four Effie advertising awards. His book, Beloved Brands, is the playbook for how to build a brand consumers will love.

We live by the beliefs that guide us

We believe the best answers are inside you already. My role is to get those answers out, and make your answers even smarter. I never give you the answer. I will ask more questions that challenge your answers to be better.

We believe investing in your people pays off. With my training program, I know I will make your people smarter, so they make the right choices, and produce exceptional work that will lead to higher brand growth.

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. Above all, I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

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