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.

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.

The Test of Time

Brands are aware that they must continually evolve in order to stay relevant in a society filled with noise. Gillette is an example of one brand that has already withstood the test of time. They make a testament to that in their new advertisement for their first ever men’s body razor.

The video takes an evolutionary approach to depict the different hairstyles of men over the last 100 years. The spot is a great nod to how Gillette has managed to handle the ever-changing landscape of product development and advertising.

Radioshack on the other hand is an example of a company that hasn’t managed to keep up with the world today, and is currently on the brink of failure. The dominance of e-commerce and competition from internet-based companies such as Amazon chip away at the profits of those companies that can’t keep up. Gillette has managed to do quite the opposite. And no matter how strange it seems that men want to shave more than just their faces, they embrace it.

What Sparks our Fire: The success of a brand that continually faces the changing times and excels at it.

What other brands can you think of that manage to withhold the challenges of change?

Let’s Be Frank: Curiously Rewarding

I just returned from Florence, Italy where my curiosity for art and fashion were again refreshed and enlivened. A must see, was the Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino exhibition at the Strozzi Palace and the beautiful leather and suede handcrafted creations by the Tattanelli family.

On the flight back I read my current issue of Vanity Fair with Jon Hamm on the cover. Now, I find out that because I’m an avid reader of this magazine, I was “born curious.” This is the current mantra for their new branding campaign promoting the print, digital video, and online editions. Interesting.

I’ll review my family tree to see if this trait is genetically grounded or a product of my environment. That should be fun. Meanwhile I checked out their online video to see where they were going. Pretty darn smart. Thanks Graydon Carter and company for making this branding message “curiously rewarding.”

Corporate Oligarchy

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These are an international few, ten mega-corporations whose multi-industry holdings create a situation not unlike the coal and iron trusts of Industrial Revolution America: basically, a few large entities own huge chunks of industry, and whoever can outbuy or undercut the competitors. The fact of the matter is that this is a product of a free market economy, where the larger corporations have the ability to diversify the industries they involve themselves in while increasing revenue and industry influence.

While parallels might be drawn to the monopolies of the early twentieth century, the new supercorporations don’t sell under their own names. Rather, they own, own shares of, or partner with hundreds of thousands of brands, which leads to mass appeal based on what Reddit refers to as “The Illusion of Choice”.  This is a deceptive use of terminology because the fact is that while these brands and companies are all associated, they are not companies within companies, like Russian nesting dolls, as the chart leads one to believe. The reality of the situation is much more complicated than a simple infographic can demonstrate.

What it is effective at showing, however, is that there are several very large, very influential corporations behind the multitude of brands that many people use daily. Whether or not this is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen. However, it’s important to know.

What Sparks Our Fire: Knowing the behind-the-scenes workings of corporate America.

Does this affect the way that you view your favorite brands?