To be creative artfully requires a dynamic mix of imagination and understanding of how the world might work. This is not a matter of being correct, but rather a matter of making the audience wonder, provoking a self-referring reverie that elicits an expanded idea of ones-self and how the world works. As a result, we see anew.
This, of course, flies in the face of traditional methods of measuring advertising effectiveness. It also runs counter to today’s corporate metric-mania and near incapacity to conceive bold strategies and innovations.
Insight is the coin of business success. While numbers can provide a means for measurement they cannot “embody,” or suggest, meaningful insights into the human experience. At worst, numbers provide an excuse to abdicate decision-making responsibility while placating executives desirous of propagating ‘business-as-usual’.
What’s Needed for Creativity?
Creativity requires two things: focused subjectivity and doubt. One needs the ability to focus on something long enough to conjure possibilities not overtly manifest in the moment, along with an acknowledgement that not everything is known.
The unknown is fertile soil from which a world of wonders can be conjured. Here mere facts and data are circumvented in a non-linear, symbolic, not wholly rational way. The mind plays a cognitive trick on itself by creating metaphor. “I call what I don’t know by name something that I do know.”
This mental leap-frogging allows the creative impulse to extrapolate unknown scenarios. It moves from the past, which instigates an inkling that lays the basis for the beginning of a new narrative, to a springboard that weaves a web of new patterns and associations, to an insinuation of the future kicked up by metaphor.
This process produces, from the outside-objective point of view, what can be perceived as seemingly off-topic meanderings. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
An Open Playfulness without NO
What is in operation is a kind of playfulness with ideas that is essential for creativity. This toying around contains a bunch of NOs—NO analyzing (yet), NO doubts. NO pressure to conform. NO pretense. NO restrictions. NO judgment.
Those who are playfully creative possess a curiosity given backbone by their expectation that they will find what they seek even though they don’t know what exactly that is.
People from many walks of life actually live this way: writer, designer, scientist, parent, small business owner. All share a belief in a beautiful human quality—Directed Serendipity.
Just listen to them, “I have a plan which allows me to begin to move forward, and in doing so I learn about myself such that when other doors open I sometimes walk in. But you have to have a plan to switch from the plan.”
Another version, “You go down a path and things evolve. By adapting to randomness you shape, but do not control, your end point. You define your end point by your own reaction to it: Ah, ha! I like this. This is for me. This is me.”
Buffeted by a Directed Serendipity
People who allow themselves to be buffeted by directed serendipity live at the creative point of becoming—who they are and what they do are the same. They don’t know—and don’t need to know—the end. They are open to the process as process, and are gregarious with their fledgling notions. They share ideas before they are fully formed. They want camaraderie. They want feedback. They’re excited.
In a state of directed serendipity you first focus on problem structuring rather than problem solving, seeking to understand rather than to explain. You try to comprehend meaning from the inside out, in its unfolding. You are not approaching the world from an intellectual stance.
Einstein, in a 1945 speech at Princeton, gave elegant voice to this perspective:
“Words or data, as they are logically written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my primary mechanism of thought. The psychical entities that do seem to serve as elements of thought are certain signs and images. These elements themselves are visual and muscular in type, originating in the intuition of the body.”
The creative communicator is an alchemist of thought, attending to the reasoning of emotion. That’s what they should get paid for. That’s what they need to have time to do. In their natural habitat, they are artful image-gatherers, whose only enemies are cynicism, number crunchers and arbitrary tinkering.
Corporate executives should embrace their creatives and let them attack the status quo. Then CEO, CMO and their courtiers can sit back and count the profits.
from the Brand Strategy Insider
“Call the law enforcement officers. We’re being robbed.”
Not a likely scenario. What the average person is much more apt to say is: “Call the cops. We’re being robbed.”
Unfortunately, marketing people are not average persons. Marketing people are much more likely to elevate their languages until, in some cases, they lose their meanings.
A few years back a senior marketing person at United Parcel Service asked me what I thought of the company’s trademark.
I like it, I said, but what UPS really needs is a motivating idea or rallying cry, something like: UPS delivers more parcels to more people in more places than any other company in the world.
UPS, he said, is not in the parcel delivery business.
Huh. That came as a big surprise to me. We’re a customer and I always thought that UPS was in the parcel delivery business.
No. UPS is in the logistics business.
He wasn’t joking. At the time UPS was in the process of repainting some 88,000 vehicles with its new theme: Synchronizing the World of Commerce.
A serious impediment to communications is this constant upgrading of the language. No aspect of life is left untouched by the upgrade police. Not only does a term have to be politically correct, it has to be as long and as complicated as possible.
Maintenance men are now physical plant managers.
Janitors are now custodial engineers.
Garbage collectors are now sanitary engineers.
A business strategy is now a business model.
Accounting firms are now professional service firms.
The purchasing department is now the procurement department.
The personnel department is now the human relations department. (At Electronic Data Systems, the HR department has become the Leadership and Change Management department.)
Fireworks are now pyrotechnics.
A jail is now a correctional facility. Anyone setting off the pyrotechnics illegally will be sent to a correctional facility.
It would be amusing if the problem hasn’t become a serious impediment to marketing. Many firms, for example, call themselves financial services companies. What’s a financial services company?
If you want to buy banking services, you go to a bank like Bank of America.
If you want to buy insurance, you go to an insurance company like State Farm.
If you want to buy stocks, bonds or mutual funds, you go to a brokerage firm like Merrill Lynch.
Let’s go to a financial services company to get our finances serviced, is not the way people talk. People talk in terms of specifics, not generalities.
As a matter of fact, it’s easier to go from the specific to the general than vice versa. People know that a drug store sells a lot more things than just drugs. Toiletries, candy, soft drinks, stationery, photo supplies, etc. Should a drug store (pardon me, pharmacy) describe itself as a personal services store? I think not.
Boston Chicken was a huge hit when they first opened its doors. It was the first fast food restaurant chain to focus on rotisserie chicken for the take-home dinner market. But then it added turkey, meatloaf, ham and other items to the menu and changed its name to Boston Market.
Everybody knows what a chicken dinner is, but what’s a market dinner No wonder, the company went bankrupt.
The same principle holds true among marketing companies. You probably know of many famous advertising agencies and many famous PR agencies, but how many famous marketing communications agencies do you know of? Name one.
When in doubt, use the narrowest possible term to describe your category. Let the mind do the upgrading, not your marketing.
by Kathryn Clark, Art Director
Color—a difference of a few shades can stimulate, depress, provoke, soothe, and even make us shiver or sweat.
In fact, according to a study at Washington State University, people who are surrounded by the color green can endure more pain, and recover more quickly from surgery using fewer drugs.1 Pink, on the other hand, has been shown to have a subduing and calming effect on violent prision inmates.2
If color is this powerful, what is it saying about your brand?
Here are a few of the ways color can influence brand perception:
• People will make riskier bets and gamble more under red lights as opposed to blue lights. This is why you see so much red neon in Las Vegas.3
• Being in a blue room can lower your heart rate and suppress your appetite. Red and yellow have the opposite effect—which is why so many fast food restaurants use these colors.4
• Yellow and red are also the best selling candy colors. Dylan Lauren, the owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar in NYC says that “Yellow is nostalgic, and red is passion. It makes people hungry.”
• Recent studies suggest that nearly all sports are enhanced in blue surroundings—including weight lifting. This may be because people tend to be more calm and focused in a blue environment.5
• Purple stimulates the area of the brain used in problem solving.6
• White pills are the most effective at soothing ulcers, even if they are merely placebos. Green tablets reduce anxiety, antidepressants are best in yellow and blue ones make the most successful tranquilizers.7
While the response to color is altered by personal and cultural experiences, many are universal and can be used for more effective brand positioning. From the office to the candy store, from your house to the grocery store, color affects our lives in amazing ways. Why not harness this power for your brand?
The connections between marketing and psychology are particularly interesting for an agency such as ours with the brand promise, “The Power of Perception®”
The Branding Strategy Insider recently ran an article called Creating The Brand Halo Effect. The halo effect refers to how a product—through effective advertising, promotion and acceptance in the marketplace—takes off in sales, not only for that particular product, but for products associated with the brand.
The article uses Apple’s iPod as an example of the halo effect. In 2005, the company concentrated advertising dollars heavily on the iPod; however, their overall sales went up 68 percent from the year before. The big news here is that this jump wasn’t only from iPod sales, which accounted for 39 percent; but the other 61 percent of their sales, which came from computers, software and other services. By placing the spotlight on the best product or service from a given company, audiences form certain understanding or perception of an entire brand.
Putting most of your marketing “eggs” and advertising dollars in one basket may not be an easy idea to sell in the boardroom. But focusing on the best horse may increase sales in other areas.
The article also mentions how imprinting is an important concept in both marketing and psychology. In psychology, imprinting describes rapid learning that occurs on a subconscious level. In marketing, the first brand in a new category is often imprinted in audiences’ minds and percieved as more authentic than others. Examples of first brands are Kleenex, Hertz, Heinz and Starbucks.
Carefully managing perceptions to increase the value of brands has been PeakBiety’s focus for years.
For generations, taglines have served as the foundation for advertising—a short statement poised to deliver the brand message in a memorable way. Today, there is some consensus that the tactic is on life support.
The reasons range from ever-shorter tenures of CMOs (13 months on average, according to recent research) to ever-splintering consumer demographics.
“It used to be on the list of deliverables,” said Mike Wolfsohn, vp/executive creative director at Ignited, Los Angeles. “It was mandatory.” He suggested marketers be bold and definitive about taglines, or skip them all together.
When it comes to developing a hit tagline, there is no set formula, Wolfsohn said. There is little commonality in ones that work.
“Treat it heroically,” he said. “Celebrate it. Don’t relegate it to 8-point type in the lower right-hand corner.”
Too often, taglines are used as safety nets out of a fear that the rest of the campaign isn’t communicating well enough, he said.
These slogans are often more utilitarian and less emotional. They tend to be fed through the focus group mill until they’re watered down beyond recognition. That process does not produce “Think Different,” “Got Milk?” or “Just Do It.”
“If the Nike tagline were suggested today, the question back would probably be, ‘Just do what?’” said Wolfsohn. “There’s a level of trepidation now that people won’t get it and they won’t be able to parrot the idea back to you. So, taglines get over defined.”
That’s when they loose strength and become meaningless, he said.
For a slogan to stick, it’s not just coming up with five catchy words or less, said Landor & Associates’ managing director Allen Adamson. It’s vital to weave that message through all the communications and the very brand DNA itself.
“It has to be the right promise, with the brand living up to it, expressed in a sticky unexpected way,” Adamson said. “And then you have to spend money and stay with it for the long haul.”
He points to GE’s “Imagination at Work” as a break-through tagline because it’s more than a slogan. “It’s the business strategy,” he said. “It’s the mission of the company.”
What’s your opinion on taglines? Or, as we prefer to call them, brand promises? Should we stick with one memorable line that sums up the brand? Or, should we vary the message with the market? We’d appreciate your thoughts.« go back