It’s called a brief, so let’s keep it that way.

mens-underwearOkay people, let’s get down to business here. How many of you have written creative briefs for your agency that included page-upon-page of research, data, analysis and much more? I’m assuming most of you. Now, this is NOT a bad thing. In fact, it’s a GREAT thing to provide. So we applaud you for overdelivering on the background info we might need.

BUT… when it comes down to the heart of what you want the agency to deliver for you creatively, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. The immersion is the key area where we intend to learn anything and everything about your brand, business, category and consumer. This is where the data-dump should take place.

Whereas the actual initiative we are working on should be able to be interpreted in one-page or less. References to examples that you’d consider benchmarks are always a plus.

If you do this and hear crickets, then the agency just doesn’t get it and maybe the long-form is necessary. However, more times than not, the agency will appreciate the synthesis of your objectives, and be able to move ahead much more efficiently with the task at hand.

So the next time you’re getting ready to pull the trigger on that brief, try and remember this tip. It will save you time on both ends.

Thanks for reading, and let us know if this was helpful, or if you need help crafting that brief.

Branding is a Matter of Public Opinion

Remember this logo?

The colorful depiction of the 2012 Summer Olympics logo depicted above was infamously met with confusion and controversy and for most, will go down as a major branding mistake.

What was supposed to look like a stylized version of the numbers 2012 turned into a media circus from how people “didn’t get it” to flat out laughter and even a petition of over 48,000 citizens to get rid of the design.

What was the big deal?

Despite the internal support for the design, the masses agreed with Jonathan Glancey of the Guardian art blog, who wrote “The logo fails the Olympics spirit completely. Its component parts are broken apart, while the Olympics are all about athletes, spectators and nations joining together.”

Whether you are a fan of the logo or not, it’s not what we think of our brand that matters but what others believe our brand to be that matters.

Because of all the brand damage and bad press, the Olympic committee started to require Olympic logo designs to follow stricter brand guidelines.

The result has been a more cohesive visual language as illustrated by Rio2016, PyeongChang2018, and Tokyo 2020.

Design is a matter of taste but Branding is a matter of public opinion. What’s your take on this? Leave a comment below.

The Head Down Revolution

Woman on city street looking at smartphone

If you live in a major metro market, then you know what it’s like to walk down the street and see 90% of the people with their heads down buried in their phone. I was one of those people, until I found myself standing in the middle of the street in Manhattan writing a text and nearly getting hit by a taxi. From that point on, I made sure that I was always looking up. But I am definitely in the minority. And this post is not about the safety, or lack thereof, when it comes to texting. It’s about how marketers can capitalize on this Head Down Revolution.

According to Statista, the U.S. mobile phone penetration has reached 81%, representing 223 million consumers. And those consumers spend an average of 4.7 hours per day glued to their smartphones. More importantly, is the role that texting now plays in our everyday lives, especially when it comes to marketing. For an eye-opening example, texts have a 99% open rate compared to 20% for email*. Pretty amazing, huh? Now I imagine that smartphones are currently in the midst of fine tuning their hardware to introduce features that can block such correspondence. But who knows when that will come?

So until that day, marketers have a humongous opportunity to take advantage and focus their outbound efforts on the behaviors of the smartphone user. A behavior that is now second nature, and while receiving a text from a brand may seem like a nuisance at first, it is certainly less of one than an email. Also, if you’re sending info or content that isn’t selling, but more serving them something of value, then you’re more likely to be able to maintain that dialogue.

And isn’t a dialogue what we want? It opens the door, and leads to traffic. And when you have enough traffic, ultimately it will lead to transactions. It’s this approach to marketing, partnered with the aforementioned tactics, that can build the awareness and engagement you’re looking for.

Now how about a little “social experiment”: The next time you’re walking down the street, take note of how many people’s’ heads are down. It truly is a sight to see. Just think, those eyes could be engaged in your brands message. And if the message is “timed” to when your customer is in the market for a new product, it becomes relevant and timely — a very powerful combination.

*Credits: Jack Loechner — Editor of The Center for Media Research; SinglePoint; Statista

Creatures of Habit

Brands and marketers spend a lot of time and money with “new and exciting” initiatives based purely on trends that are influencing their consumers. But what they should be doing is improving their existing products and marketing efforts based on consumer habits.

As consumers, we are programmed to intuitively select the products and brands we need based on what looks familiar (e.g., the easiest decision to make). And as marketers, “the goal is to make consumers repeat their purchases by matching the value proposition to their needs.” Consumers don’t want to spend the mental energy when shopping (online or in-store for that matter), so why make them?

Branding, Design, Advertising, MarketingThe solution for brands lies within understanding the habits of their consumers, and evolving or improving upon them based on what their brains are programmed to be looking for. And unless consumers are absolutely screaming for a change, and the return is solid for your business, then making a dramatic change is no bueno.

Brands like Coke, Tropicana, GAP, and many more have undergone redesigns in some capacity over the years. Consumers didn’t demand it. They weren’t educated on the change, nor provided a real rationale. The result was backlash, and even a decline in sales, which pushed the brands to quickly go back to the original. A lot of time and money lost. However, sometimes it pays off (only if the demand is there), but often times it doesn’t.

There are more examples and insights we could share, but we simply don’t have the time, nor blog post space to do so. That said, we want to leave you with this very simple message: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if you decide to fix it, make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the habits of your consumers.

Vice Goes Broad

broadly

Popular media website Vice has announced the release of its 11th channel, Broadly, which caters to female readers.

Its tongue-in-cheek tagline “For Women Who Know Their Place” is a tribute to its mission to promote broader coverage of issues with a female perspective, including “politics, culture, sex, and fashion.” While its content (reproductive health and fertility, gang activity, drug culture, etc.) maintain’s Vice‘s edge and envelope-pushing tendencies, Broadly aims to add a new dimension to such topics.

A major distinction from its other sites is the noticeable lack of comments section, in order to encourage civil discussion and a safe space. However, in true Vice fashion, it will focus on subject matter that is generally underreported by the mainstream media.

This marks an important shift in focus for Vice, capitalizing on the momentum of feminism in the media and seeking to carve out its unique place in branding culture.

What Sparks Our Fire: A digital publication expanding its brand by creating a space for candid conversation among women about prevalent modern issues.