Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

Dynamic marketing, branding & design strategies that span the gap between business & creative.

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Interesting post from the Small Agency Diary on AdAge...

As a former corporate America marketing manager, I too run for the hills when I meet traditional ad agency folks- even though I work for a company in a similar space. I believe that times have changed. Traditional advertising methods are not as effective as they were a decade ago. Consumers are too savvy. They are too innundated with marketing messages. They demand more control over their experiences because they know they have choices. Choice is the very reason that network TV ads are only truly effective for the very few mega-corps that have hundreds of millions of dollars for brand advertising. Unless you can match McDonalds, Pepsi, Coke, Bud Light, you will be overshadowed and likely not get the biggest bang for your buck.

Consumers are flooded with roughly 3,000 marketing impressions per day. TV, radio, outdoor, email, website, newspaper, voicemail, vehicle, vending machine, storefront, etc.... The majority of these impressions are not targeted enough to make a consumer react.

Moral of the story, no one wants to be part (read spend valuable budget dollars) of a non-effective industry. Change the game. Solve the executive's true problems. Make them more profitable, increase employee productivity, decrease their cash cycle. These are things that traditional ad agencies have a hard time addressing. I believe there will always be a place for brand advertising, but that place in business is radically smaller than what it was a decade ago. Smaller, point-of-pain solution providers are increasing their strategic value and getting the dollars that were not spent effectively with the big ad guys.

Creative Briefs Part I: Why not What...

Over the years I've worked in both in-house creative teams and with outside agencies. Pretty much everyone involved will agree that a creative brief is an essential element to each project. But I've seen briefs vary widely. So I wanted to break down my view of what a creative brief should consist of and why.

First off, the brief is more about the why's behind the project than it is about what the project is supposed to be. The brief isn't the answer to the problem; it defines the problem so that the team can find an appropriate solution within a given budget & timeline.

I've seen a lot of marketing & sales staff put a lot of thought into exactly what they want their creative team to work on; but they rarely tell the creatives why they are asking for those items. For example, a typical website brief will include directions on how many pages, what copy goes on those pages and how they link together. That's great, but the creative team needs to understand why & how you came to those conclusions in order to truly develop an effective website that addresses the audience's needs.

Good creative teams are not button pushers. They can and should be a valuabe part of your strategic team. NOTE: I'll be the first to admit that it's the creatives fault that they do not have a seat at the table, but that's why I write this blog. Back on topic, your creative team should be a group of problem solvers. Working together, you work towards a common solution with different perspectives of the project. And that's great - it's the way it's supposed to be. Marketing & sales staff are good at the things creatives are not; and vice versa. The two halves equal the whole.

So next time you have a project. Explain the why's. Tell the creative team why you need this deliverable, what's the business problem you're trying to fix, why the audience needs a certain product, why you want specific colors and fonts, etc... If both teams are equal partners in the success of the project, both have a say in the best way to address the problem. And that's the way it should be.

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