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.

Are Controversial Ads Worth It?

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The battle for attention in the advertising world is intense. Companies are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves from the competition. What is a company to do when the good ideas are either: taken, over-used, or cliché. How do they breakthrough, without breaking?

The growing trend to enter the consumer’s mind is to use controversy to excite, whether it means using humor or anger to grab attention. Controversial campaigns are high risk, high reward, so caution should be used when employing such tactics.

The recent viral advertisement campaign by Kmart, dubbed the #shipmypants ad, uses word play to promote Kmart’s shipping service. The responses have been between calling this ad, a smart, hilarious campaign, to sophomoric and cheap. Regardless, the numbers don’t lie, people are talking. Whether it’s good or bad, is still up for discussion.

Do you believe that any press is good press?

If you intend to use controversy to jumpstart a campaign here are some questions for you to answer. Since controversy evokes strong emotions:

1.Are you being controversial just to be controversial, or does it have a specific link to your brands purpose?
2.Does the dialog relate to your brand message and positioning, or is just a quick hit to highlight something new?
3. Have you prepared for the backlash and unexpected consequences?

When controversial marketing campaigns work, they usually have a high initial response rate but die off as quickly as they rise. So to sum this all up, are controversial ads worth it? In the short run, maybe, in the long run, no, unless you have a plan to continue the conversation. And if you’re going to go this route, do it sparingly as you cannot reliably gauge the response.

At the end of the day, if you are having trouble breaking through the white noise, what will you do? Play it safe or go for it?

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.

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.

Write On

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While reminiscing about your childhood I’m sure you have fond memories of digging through the biggest Crayola box to find that perfect color. Now, as an adult, you may not be digging through that same crayon box, but if you’re a designer we’re sure you wish you could.

Scribble is the pen that changes how we interact with color. All you do is hold the back of the pen up to a surface and the pen will scan and reproduce the color within seconds. Most graphic designers would love this capability to be digital in order to replicate the color onto their computer rather than paper. No problem, there is a scribble stylus that functions the same way to easily translate the colors from the world around you, digitally. This pen makes designing and recreating colors easy. The scribble also has an associated app where you can find colors you previously scanned to use again, or share with others.

The Scribble recently started funding on Kickstarter, so if you’re ready to bring some more color into your life, go ahead and contribute.

What Sparks our Fire: A great design tool that is fun and easy to use.

What’s your favorite color?