Posts Tagged 'brand'

The ARF calls for “re-orientation in the creative briefing process”

The ARF, also known as The Advertising Research Foundation, has identified the creative brief as an area for improving the advertising process.

The following excerpt is from the conclusions and implications section of the report “On The Road To A New Effectiveness Model”.  You can get the full report from the ARF.

…rethinking the model for advertising might mean a re-orientation in the

creative briefing process.  That might include the following:

A more visual approach to briefing.  Adding key symbols, images, textures, colors that

would help the creative team in understanding and developing the non-verbal aspects of

the brand.

Providing more emotional insights into target audience descriptions by including two or

three example “life stories” of the customer.  These could be brief – 2 or 3 lines – that

give more specificity to the target audience.

Greater emphasis on brand personality.  Going far beyond the typical list of personality

characteristics and really creating more of a persona, using both images and words to

describe who the brand is and is not.  More of a brand biography, with creation story,

likes and dislikes, tastes and style.

A different emphasis on the proof points and rational benefits.  We would no longer

consider them as primary drivers of preference.  Proof points have a new role, which is to

give the consumer a plausible post-rationalization that supports their emotional choices.

Development of new tools that would help with developing “narrative lines” for the

brand. What happens when the consumer interacts with the brand?  What are some strong

storylines?  How do we articulate them in a brief that will be useful to the creative teams?

How does the brand story interact with the consumer’s life story or stories about the


To make a brand brief even more effective, it should be co-created by the client brand director or research director, a creative director and an account planner.

Consilience in branding

I had never heard of the word “consilience” until a couple of years ago.  It was introduced to me by a friend who saw tremendous opportunities for using the theory of consilience in marketing communications.

Consilience means taking ideas from one area of study and applying them to another.  For instance, if a person made a theory about an apple falling from a tree (Newton) and then applied it to the planets and stars (Galileo) they would be using “consilience”.

Another way of thinking about this is to consider universities.  Within a university are many departments and within each department are specialists and sub-specialists and sub-sub-specialists.  The discoveries made by these specialists tends to be incremental.  The big discoveries are made by people who look across specialities or who take ideas from one specialty (psychology) and apply it to another (economics).  The combination of psychology and economics has led to a growth in “behavioral economists” and the book “Freakonomics”.  It is a way of creating new ideas through cross-fertilization of disciplines. Interdisciplinary is a clunky word for this elegant idea.

The word  consilience was dusted off and put to good use by the Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson in a book titled “Consilience”.

It has also been used to describe the Narrative Branding approach.  For instance, neuropsychology has been unlocking more secrets into how we think, how we understand and how we communicate.  We have drawn on these insights into the human mind to come up with a breakthrough approach that will be more effective.  If we understand the mind better and use that understanding to come up with a better approach for branding, then the likelihood of success will be much higher.

As the Advertising Research Foundation has reported in the 2007 study “On the Road to More Effective Advertising”:

“Even though the new insights into the human mind are available, there are few techniques widely used today to take advantage of the knowledge to the benefit of advertisers.”

Attached is an article we wrote on this topic a year and a half ago for the Korean marketing journal, “Brand Forum”.  VerseGroup_brandforum_consilience bilingual

Shameless book plug

Bellevue is a mythic place in the collective memory of New York City.  The narratives about Bellevue have seeped into our culture.  It was the inspiration for the film, “The Lost Weekend.” It is mentioned in Alan Ginsburg’s poem “Howl”. At various times people such as Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsburg and Charles Mingus were committed there.  It is a brand, unique in America.  And as a brand owned and operated by NYU Medical School, NYU has been working hard to upgrade Bellevue’s reputation.

It is our version of Bedlam, London’s infamous hospital for the insane. (By the way, the location of the original Bedlam is now a hotel.  I stayed there one night a few years ago.  All night long I was haunted by strange dreams).

Now the head of the psychiatric Emergency Room has written a book about her experiences at Bellevue. I highly recommend it for anyone who lives or has ever lived in New York.

From a branding perspective, Bellevue is a perfect example of how the reputation is influenced by other people and not by the hospital itself.  Movies, stories, newspaper articles, tv reports have all shaped the reputation of Bellevue.  There is only a limited amount that the hospital itself, or NYU, can do.  That doesn’t mean that they should do nothing.  It is a conversation, a dialog, and NYU needs to actively participate in it — including social media — to help people co-create a more positive image.

Weekends at Bellevue

Weekends at Bellevue

One last fun fact, Bellevue has it’s own literary magazine!  It is fitting with so many famous writers having spent time there.  It brings to mind the title of a poem “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities” by Delmore Schwartz, a former psychiatric patient.

So this my plug for the book.  You can also get it on a Kindle.  But the downside is that you can’t ask the author to autograph the Kindle.  Full disclose, I received no promotional considerations, nor payments, for this blog post.

Can one agency do it all?

The mantra of the past decade has been totally integrated marketing.  It’s a very smart move.  Corporations have recognized the advantages of having all their marketing efforts synchronized and harmonized.

Agencies have recognized this, too.  Because it represents an opportunity for them to get a large slice of the client’s marketing budget.  In theory, an agency that provides integrated marketing communications can benefit by capturing spending that would go to digital agencies, brand consulting firms, PR firms, packaging firms and so on.

The theory is one thing.  The practice is another.

Our research shows that only 16% of marketing decision makers want to have a single agency partner to handle all of their marketing challenges.  Instead of working with fewer agencies, corporations are working with more agencies.  The integration of marketing has to happen internally at the client side.  The client must own and control their branding.

Senior BBDO executive joins Verse Group

It’s not been officially announced but Barry Schweig is joing Verse Group as Executive Director.  We are pleased as could be to have Barry’s wise counsel, experience and great storytelling.

For those who don’t know Barry, he was the BBDO EVP responsible for the global Gillette and Oral B accounts.  That extended far beyond advertising, all the way into new product development.  Little known but true fact, Barry developed the Mach 3 name for the Gillette 3 blade razor.  He also led the branding and advertising efforts for Fusion, Venus and other major offerings.  A lot of people may call themselves brand experts.  Barry truly is one.

There are two real passions in Barry’s life.  One is nurturing and growing global brands.  The other is tending to his home garden.  Both take patience, faith and careful attention.  

Full disclosure here:  I worked with Barry at BBDO on the Gillette business for a couple of years.  I was the international account planner on the business.  So my bias and enthusiasm are no longer hidden.

Before joining BBDO, Barry was an SVP Management Rep at McCann Erickson.  He began his career in creative services at Dancer Fitzgerald Sample.

E-inking the Kindle

Now that Oprah has a Kindle, it’s the biggest thing to happen to publishing since…well, a long time.

The secret behind Kindle is a technology developed at MIT.  It’s from a company named E-Ink.

It was about 1999 or 2000 when I first heard of E-ink.  We were invited to pitch a project for them around this marvelous new technology.  And it was marvelous.  The idea that you could have something as thin as paper and infinitely reusable…well, that’s pretty incredible.  Some of the early applications were around in-store signage, point-of-purchasing.  The idea was to immediately change pricing or specials or send a message to shoppers at stores around the country simultaneously.  No more tearing down the old materials and setting up new ones.

The ideas that the client and our team came up with where a lot of fun.  What if they ran a full page ad in the New Yorker during the holiday season?  What if a dress was made out of E-ink?  How about greeting cards?  Also the ideas were impractical given the state of the technology and the costs.  The branding ideas were just too early.  The timing wasn’t right.

Here we are, a decade later and the technology is ready for prime time.  Certainly it is ready for Oprah!  Now when I play with my Kindle I keep thinking of all the great and clever things that E-ink can do with the technology.  Perhaps they are ready for that branding project after all.

Rebrand that Flu!

Yesterday the local schools in NYC sent home instructions to families about precautions to take around the Swine Flu.

My daughter wanted to know why they call it Swine Flu.  

She said, “You know, if they called it Pizza Flu or Oreo Cookie Flu, then people wouldn’t be so worried.”

Come to think of it, the Swine metaphor has some pretty negative associations.  Swine is a metaphor for dishonorable and untrustworthy people.  It is associated with pollution from industrial pork farms.  Pork itself is another word for unnecessary spending, fat, larded.  Pearls before swine is both a biblical quotation and the subtitle of Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater” — not that I’m equating the two in terms of cultural significance.

Pizza Flu. My daughter’s logic is inescapable.

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