Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Delivery Of Originality That Differentiates!

Did you know that creativity is actually defined as the synthesis of four individual elements?

Many of us think of creativity in terms of originality.

But originality is only one of the four elements.

Here are the other three elements:
• Fluency…how many ideas you can generate.
• Flexibility…how many different perspectives you can explore.
• Elaboration…how detailed you can get with an idea and the expression of it.

It’s not to say that the right side of the brain doesn’t contribute to these other three elements, but left-brain thinkers seem to find these elements the easiest to produce.

Some MBAs truly do believe that these elements of creativity can actually be mechanically and technically delivered and produced.

No question about it… Originality is where the highest level of risk resides right along with the highest level of “breakthrough” differentiation!

Original ideas seem to create discomfort among many in management today…and that’s with marketing and agency management included in the mix.

But its originality that differentiates and separates a brand from the dogma of the category and causes consumers to take note.

No question about it, Target headed out into the uncharted waters when it launched its truly original brand-line: “Expect More. Pay Less.”

It was one of those conventional challenges. I mean, how could you get more and pay less? It did not make rational sense back then, but it was an emotional hook that ignited a brand connection that turned the retail community upside down.

The branding campaign transitioned a mass discount chain from Blah to Cool, Hip and Fun and cut across the conventional demographic constraints that many marketing MBAs held true to their hearts.

Then in 2008, Wal-Mart came along with the new brand-line: “Save Money. Live Better.”

Well so much for originality.

But without a question, Wal-Mart hit on all the other creative elements by putting some big dollars behind it and banging away the message.

The creative team that developed it can lay claim to creative flexibility for at least switching the order of the “save dollars” phrase and the “reward” phrase.

Last week’s Blog-Logue was about business and agency folks that seem to have their heads buried in the sand.

This week I am going to nominate both Home Depot and The Richards Group to be their outstanding students and heads-of-the-class.

Today, Home Depot announced its new brand-line: ”More Saving. More Doing.”

No… I am really not making this up.

This is the brand-line that the Richards Group delivered to Home Depot to replace “You Can Do It. We Can Help.”

The article says…”The ad campaign is the result of an ad agency search that Home Depot’s Chief Marketing Officer Frank Bilfulco led last year. The Richards Group of Dallas kept the account and created the new slogan in the process.”

Okay. The Richards Group is probably good at letting clients feel that they are in charge of the team.

The article goes on to say: “The new ad campaign also jabs at the more female-friendly and style-oriented Lowe’s, Home Depot’s biggest rival.”

Is Home Depot the competitive "guy's-brand" because the new brand-line is dull and boring-- you know that stereotype "guy-like" personality?

To be honest...Home Depot has my loyalty right now because of its service. The fact that there are folks standing there ready to help is cool. And it is something that I featured on the Blog-logue a couple of weeks ago.

Oh well...

I don’t really think that there is too much more that I can say other than the Richards Group is probably a superb example of what Bogusky (Crispin Porter + Bogusky) terms as a BIG Monster Shop kneeling before the BIG Monster Client.

(See last week’s Blog-logue!)

For us...Originality rules!

BrandVenture is a small shop and it is my mission to keep it that way.

Maybe my passion for “digging below the surface and unraveling the submerged” and “challenging the dogma of the marketplace with heretical ideas” isn’t for everyone out there in business today.

But…as Bogusky says in his article…”we offer the nimble and fast approach to problems that a lot of the nascent brands need.”

Creativity is what is going to drive the economy, the marketplace, our brands and our personal visions forward!

Its all about fueling brands with innovation, creativity and insight!

So pick up that phone and call us… and come…Let’s Journey!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lifting Our Heads Up From The Sand!

3-24 UPDATE:

Today's leading headline in Advertising Age: Future May Be Brighter But It's Apocalypse Now. Subhead goes on: 'Chaos Scenario' author Bob Garfield watches as his worst predictions wreak havoc on media and marketing worlds. Okay. Enough is Enough! If you can't stop hyperventilating...hold your breath and stop talking!

Also on the front page of Advertising Age: Bogusky Loves Small Shops...Says Entrepreneurs Will Lead Us From Recession. As he says, its the "Scrappy Entrepreneurs that can do things for their clients that the big monster shops can't." Bogusky offers rich perspective!

Okay...now read on what we said a week ago before Ad Age got the insight into what is going on!...

Trendcasting is something we lay claim to here at BrandVenture.

We write about it. Talk about it. And spend a lot of time doing it.

Trends have been a popular topic.

Reading Mega Trends and Future Shock when growing up somewhat got me hooked on doing what I do today.

When my CNN.com home page came up yesterday, I was surprised at what I saw. The site showcased a link to its sister site TIME.com and “10 Ideas Changing The World Right Now.”

The “Ideas” are actual perspectives of stuff that’s going on here at home and globally as well.

Everything from “Jobs Are the New Assets” to “Reinstating The Interstate” to “Biobanks” to “Africa: Open For Business” to “Ecological Intelligence.”

Not that the press is biased, but a lot of the “Ideas” listed fall in sync with much of what the President and Congress recently enacted in Washington.

What I find most interesting about the posting of these “Ideas” is that…

1. The “Ideas” actually support and confirm what I cited in the 1/14/2009 Blog titled “Heed The Call of Imminent Fundamental Change”

2. As a culture we have shifted to a “Focused-Forward” perspective

3. As individuals, we find cultural and societal observations of interest

Yesterday, I got into a discussion with a colleague about a call that I made to a Marketing Research VP. It is a person that the Chief Marketing Officer of the company referred me to regarding upcoming projects.

I made comment in the discussion with my colleague about how this VP was “overwhelmed” with “the process and project load” and could not find the time to speak about anything else for weeks.

It was a repeat of what I heard earlier last week from a marketing VP at a Southeastern Hospital.

It is also a repeat of what I heard from one of our current clients.

CNN also reported that close to 40% of management workers recently surveyed are concerned about losing their jobs in the next six months.

Maybe the picture that is posted next to the “10 Ideas Changing The World Right Now” sums up the conventional business perspective the best....It features a person wearing half of a globe as a hat that entirely covers the eyes where they cannot see beyond the shell of the globe.”

I shared with my colleague yesterday that many individuals in management today are like ostriches with their heads in the sand.

My illustration is not as original as the picture on TIME.com.

Change is happening as I write this Blog.


Maybe…there is an 11th Idea that needs to be added TIME’s list titled…

The New Paradigm of Entrepreneurialism, Self-sufficiency, Craftsmanship and Accountability

Both sets of my grandparents were entrepreneurs. They came to this country with only a little bit of cash in their pockets and purses.

They multi-tasked back then by working a variety of jobs that enable them to live a better life.

The large business and big government machines are broke…figuratively and literally.

And many in management are scared shitless to do much about it, but dig in even deeper in the sinking sands of the past.

Whew…It’s really, really not bad news!

Because agitation stimulates creativity, innovation, inspiration, vision, desires and drives!

My only editorial comment to TIME.com… Your Idea that “Jobs Are The New Assets” is just slightly off…

It’s not Jobs that are the assets…

It’s the Entrepreneurs and Inventors that are the REAL assets!

While management might be afraid they will lose their jobs and the media seems to be addicted to foster pessimism, the vast public is NOT... NOT!

Today's CNN.com survey asks "do you think another Great Depression will occur in the next year?"

More than 27,900 people have responded thus far with 78% saying "NO!"

While it might seem to be hard work… don’t sit on the sidelines within the confines of a broken past.

Go shake off that sand, clear out those eyes, put on those running shoes…and come…Let’s Journey!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Emotional Horizon of Opportunity!

A person who I have gotten to know in the industry recently was hired to serve as the CEO of the Atlanta office of one of the well-known NY shops.

It’s a shop whose past client mix was largely driven by a telecom client. That client recently merged with another dominant telecom group and the agency is no longer their agency of record.

The role of the person I know is to help move what remains of the Atlanta office forward into a more innovative way of thinking.

There is no question that she is taking on a challenge.

I worked with her “new business” team on two recent pitches.

Both of the potential clients sent out an RFP.

Both RFPs outlined what the agency needed to bring back to the table. Both RFPs outlined how their products functioned and what they wanted to communicate to customers.

I told the agency that if they responded back to the RFP with communications tailored around the mechanical operations of the clients’ products that the campaigns would likely yield little-to-no return and the agency would likely be laying off folks when the clients sent out new RFPs 12 months from now.

Repeat after me…NO!

“Dear prospective client…If you really, really want to move your brand forward, stop telling the consumer about how your product is made and instead invite them into the emotions of the experience!”

But to do that you have to be brave and maybe even a bit insane.

When I started BrandVenture more than 6 years ago, I did so with a passion to drive brands forward fueled by the brand’s EIP or Emotional Ignition Point.

Rational logic drives little consumer response.

I showcase examples of brand success that abide by it like Apple, Nike, Cartoon Network, MINI Cooper, Southwest Airlines, Burger King and Red Bull… and a few shops like Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

The MBAs often debate it, many clients often reject it and account service folks often run from it.

Last week an article ran in Advertising Age titled; Why Emotional Messages Beat Rational Ones.

It showcases a book titled “Brand Immortality” – a manual on how to keep brands healthy in the long term.

The article highlights an analysis the authors completed of over 880 case studies of national and international top winning commercials based on response and sales.

16% of the cases were driven by rational “benefits pay-off” strategy.

84% of the cases where driven by emotional engagement or a combination of emotional engagement with rational support.

The authors are quoted in the article as saying that there is “a superior ability of emotional campaigns to create a sense of differentiation for the brand, one that can endure and will not disappear with the next product launch from a competitor.”

They then go on to say… “Our analysis shows that emotional strategies continue to work well during downturns…and emotional engagement increases in importance during the life cycle of market sectors while rational persuasion-based strategies progressively lose the product differentiation they depend upon.”

So will the ad agencies be whistling a new tune?

As long as account service and media buyers run the shops, probably not.

By the way, this article in Ad Age was not on the front page. It was on page 13.

Seeing the glass as half full is part of our core values here at BrandVenture.

And especially in times like where we are right now, innovation, emotion and creative thinking combined with “passionate persistence of preaching the emotional experience” is what will move brands forward.

It’s not a horizon of storm clouds… it’s a horizon of opportunity!

So pick up that phone, email or text message us…and…let’s hit those Emotional Ignition Points and Journey!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cheap Is Chic In More Ways Than One!

I always get a kick out of the content of our local business rag here in Atlanta.

The articles now seem to fall in two buckets…one termed the “Gloom and Doom” of business closures and lay-offs and another termed “Retro Spotlights” that highlights the “good ole boy” leadership relics that are grasping to hold onto past titles and accolades.

But perhaps the biggest laugh I got out or this week’s issue is a page featuring lease programs on top luxury cars.

One of those ads featured a “special discount rate” of $949 per month for a Jaguar sports car.

That just kind of confirms where many of the conventional business mindsets reside.

Either that, or it showcases a strong stage of denial in the midst of change.

Whatever the case…that kind of thinking is now history!

Spending frivolously is OUT and CHEAP CHIC is in!

This morning’s posting on CNN.com contained an article that caught my attention.

The title: “In A Recession, Cheap is Chic.”

It has some great observations in it…

Like…”During a deepening recession, conspicuous consumption is out and frugality is the new black.”

Like…”Now what’s chic is being the most knowledgeable and efficient at saving money.”

And also…”Consumers are now focusing on how to live like a king without having to spend a king’s ransom!”

This article even has a couple of cool terms…

One is “economize” that describes the way people shop today.

The second is “in-sourcing” versus “out-sourcing” – a term that our local Atlanta talk radio star Clark Howard recently coined in one of his afternoon shows.

As Clark Howard says… “People had their collection of ‘mys’ like my massage therapist, my yard person, my hairdresser…now people are really stepping back from that and saying ‘if I cut my own yard, I am going to have that $60 in my pocket.’”

I’m into “in-sourcing”!

I now clean my house, make my lunches and go out and get my own office supplies… and believe it or not… doing those things saves me more than $500 every month!

What’s interesting is that CHEAP CHIC may not just be a recessionary trend.

When websites like Expedia replaced travel agencies, it wasn’t flying first class that was cool…it was flying first class and doing so with a 70% discount!

While Budget Living Magazine died a couple of years ago…it came into being back in the days when the Dow Industrial was posting over 12,000 – remember back then?

While ReadyMade Magazine circulation has increased during the recession, it became a Millennial Generation cultural Icon 37 issues ago.

And HGTV premiered Design On A Dime back in 2006…long before the layoff run.

And then there’s Target’s “Expect More. Pay Less.” campaign that has been part of our brand mindset now for more than 10 years!

CHEAP CHIC is as much a part of the Millennial Generation as the PEACE SIGN is an icon of the Boomer Generation.

What does this mean for your brand?

Rule #1 – Just being cheap doesn’t make something CHIC!

Rule #2 – No matter how bad the economy gets, there will always be inventors, innovators and trendsetters.

Rule #3 –Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Friendster and YouTube are primary forums where what’s chic is being defined.

Yeah… you can go to those ad agencies and PR groups to get assistance and advice…

But certainly at those prices, the advice is not what is CHIC today!

Call us… We are CHEAP… And with us, you can not only Journey forward with your brand… you can be CHIC in doing so!




QUESTION: When you shop at discount stores or purchase a knock off...74% "Brag about the great find!"...and only 6% "Hide the shame of buying cheap"