Strategic Design | marketing & branding thoughts by Nick Rice

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


Marcom Vocabulary

Had to pass on a great marketing communications primer from Ernie Mosteller. Being on the same page with regards to vocabulary is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your projects come in on strategy, time, and budget. Ernie does a great job of boiling down the basics...

Brand. Your brand is your personality, as determined by how the world sees you. How you want to be seen can affect how the world sees you, but it doesn't define it. The world gets to define its own take on you. Lots of things go into what the world sees of you. Your brand = (what you want it to be) + 2(X) what the world says it is. The world's actual view of you is at least twice as important as your desired view of you. As the world's view of you becomes more negative, X gets larger. As it becomes more positive, X shrinks.

Design. Design is not your brand. But it can affect your brand. Design is the clothes you wear in order to attempt to affect the world's perception of your personality. It may also be the car you drive, or the house you live in. It's your outward, visual, projection to the world. It may or may not have anything at all to do with who you really are -- though good design is always based on what's inside. Design can, and should, touch everything you do that the world sees. Which, basically, is everything.

Advertising. Advertising is not your brand. Advertising is what you say about yourself in order to attempt to affect the world's perception of your personality. What you say can also be defined as: how you act in public. Which is, everywhere. What you say about yourself is greatly affected by how you say it, because how you say it determines whether people will hear and/or listen. Whispering in the middle of an NFL stadium doesn't have the same effect as shouting in church. If I were you, I wouldn't do either. Advertising, by the way, is no longer defined as the placement of a pre-determined message in a purchased medium. Advertising is any piece of communications with an agenda.

Public Relations. PR is not your brand. PR is an active attempt to get other people to say something positive about you, without directly paying them to do so. Because this definition is so broad, and so clearly goes light years beyond churning out a press release, you can safely assume that I believe PR is pretty much anything, and is an integral, specialized component of quality advertising. PR is also the component you need to turn to for crisis management, assuming you're managing the crisis honestly. Because almost anything else has a real chance of making things worse.

Collateral. Collateral is not your brand. Collateral is reference material for people who have already expressed an interest in your brand. Whether it's a business card or brochure, collateral has almost no ability to create interest in you. Its function is to enhance interest, and provide information, for those who have already decided (if even in a small way) to check you out. Most websites function as collateral, though they are capable of a lot more.

Concept. A concept is no longer simply a storyboard, or a headline/visual relationship. A concept is an idea designed to encourage a specific action from the person who interacts with it. A concept could be an event, a direct mail piece, a Super Bowl commercial, a You Tube video, a boy band, or a newspaper ad. The key to making a concept work is to focus your attention on the desired action from the viewer, and simplify that action to its most basic element. A concept doesn't sell a car. A salesman sells a car. But the right concept can get someone to talk to a salesman. Or click a link. Or remember the car you have for sale, the next time they think about buying one. Good concepts surprise people. Great concepts hold their attention. Effective concepts are very specific, and very simplistic, about what they want to achieve.

technorati tags > ernie mosteller, marketing, communication, vocabulary

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