Archive for November, 2010
This post authored by Mike Derrick
Creative Director, Adcom Communications
As a creative director, I find one of the most important things for writers and art directors to understand is the difference between the creative strategy and the creative tactic. Strategy of course is far more important…it’s the foundation to all messages and is what truly creates brand appeal. A tactic is a specific “hook” used to attract the audience…but it can’t move them to take action. Yet, it’s very easy for Creatives to base campaign ideation on narrow tactical concepts (i.e. let’s use humor) which is not the root of why one is motivated by Brand X over Brand Y.
So to help you identify an effective strategy from a tactic, I’ve come up with this simple test. Begin your strategic thinking by completing the following sentence in a deeply meaningful way.
“I like this brand because it’s ____________.”
Now, I know what you may be thinking. “What if I like the brand because it’s humorous?” Ah ha…but recall a funny ad…and then consider why it is funny to you and perhaps not funny to someone else. And you may realize the deeper thinking behind the humor…thinking that probably falls into one of these more deeply strategic categories.
To begin with, there’s what I call the “Birds of a Feather” approach…“I like this brand because it’s just like me.” This appeal through “commonality” leverages itself against the basic human instinct of gravitating towards like minded people or organizations. In this case…the commonality is big thinkers.
The next strategy of appeal involves human nature again…this time in the form of empathy. So the sentence becomes, “I like this brand because it really understands me.” As a brand you must demonstrate that you feel for the audience by being familiar enough to playback their life situation, such as:
Now we take a 180-degree turn, with a creative strategy based on distancing yourself from a particular belief or competitive brand. Here the statement becomes “I like this brand because it shares my utter disdain for that.” So in a sense, it validates the audience’s belief but from the more rousing contentious point of view, much like this sponsorship billboard for KeyBank…
So thus far, we’ve seen three arguably humorous ads, but the deeper strategy has not simply been humor. The tactic is to use humor, but the strategy involves a deeper connection with the audience.
Next case and point is known as “Appeal through Aspiration”…probably the most commonly used approach in advertising because it most directly links the brand to a desired outcome. Here we say “I like this brand because it’s what I want to become.” For example, when speaking to local youth about avoiding gangs, we used hometown role model and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith.
OK, let’s re-focus. The final strategy of appeal I’ll leave you with is one I don’t necessarily endorse because it relies heavily on outspending your competition. Buy unfortunately it has become a standard in the world of persuasive selling. I call it the “iconic” approach because it works like this…”I like this brand because it’s been drilled into my head so many times that I feel as though I’ve known you all my life which is comforting to me.” You know…like insurance companies do:
This approach isn’t necessarily limited to spokespeople…icons can be graphical (such as iPod’s silhouettes) or musical (such as McDonalds). In a sense, these icons have been so deeply thrust into everyday consciousness that they transcend the world of advertising and its stigma…which is how they’re able to be so readily accepted, admired and even adopted by the audience.
Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll rustle up some classic tactics of appeal that can then be applied to these types of broad strategies. Until then…remember…15 minutes is all you need to save 15% on your car insurance.
The 5 Emotional Touch Points