Date published

Aug 07, 2015

If you’ve haven't seen this video before, give it a minute to see if you can pass the test:

Now I’m going to admit something I’m not proud of:

Early in my career as a CD, I was working at an integrated marketing agency with a designer on an established brand, well-known for its strong 2-colour palette. Hunching over the mac, we had a creative issue: how do we make their great offer standout, given the strict brand guidelines and the embryonic nature of our relationship?

It was an online job so we discussed animations, pop-outs, video and even increasing point sizes to humungous proportions. The MD sidled up to the mac.

“Why don’t we use red?”

The designer and I pulled bemused faces at each other.

“It’s not on brand,” I offered.

A week later, we were discussing the terms of my mutually agreed separation in the MD’s office. Seems the actual reality is that sometimes you need someone to shake you out of your bad habits.

Now something I am proud of:

I learned immediately from that session round the mac that to get noticed, you have to do something different.

To stand out from the competition.

To stand out from what you’ve been saying for the last 6 months.

Now ask yourself, what is your marketing budget for?

Is it to get your brand noticed and to get people to respond?

Or is it really to be on brand?

Because if it's mainly directed at always being on brand, where are you going to get the bang for your marketing buck? How many times have you seen the job title, Brand Guardian? What are they protecting you against?

Too much response? Too much success? Too much filthy cash on your bottom line?

You keep the same wallpaper on your wall for months, often years. So much so, it fades into another world far beyond even the sub-conscious.

You keep projecting the exact same look, the exact same tone of voice, over and over again and you become wallpaper.

And people only look at wallpaper when they’re tired of what they have and are ready for a change.

If you watched the video and noticed nothing remarkable, it’s because you just expect to count the number of times the ball is passed by the people wearing white.

And when people expect the same thing, that thing fades into the wallpaper.

But when they come across something they don’t expect, they take notice.

There are a number of factors why brand often holds sway over response, including:

Comfort – this is how we do things and how we always will

– we expect our customers to listen, whatever we have to say

– our high-flying brand might nose dive and shatter into tiny pieces

An easy life
– brands and brand guidelines have a structure that’s simple to follow; tactics, responsiveness and an entrepreneurial style takes experience, gut instinct and … well, guts.

The biggest failure for me is the expectation of customers to conform. That’s not their job; they’re just like you and me – fickle, disloyal, value-hungry, irrational and just plain busy.

Our job as a marketing agency is to break down those expectations, cut-through the usual and surprise the socks off punters. Especially if we’re selling flip-flops.

And you can’t do that by using brand as a huge crutch. Because if you do wield your brand in that way it will only act as a safety blanket that, at best, keeps customers at arm’s length, at worst, drives them all away.

Just to balance things out, one more thing that I’m proud of:

The brand development work I’ve done over the years, from the stuff that's won awards to the stuff that only niche audiences interact with. I love creating new brands, rebranding tired old ones. You see, I’m not a brand hater, but a lover of brands that can be different when they need to be.

At Creode, when we work on a brand we ensure at least three things happen:

  1. We make sure guidelines are a guide and not a strict set of rules; guidelines that give both designers and Marketing Directors the flexibility and freedom to use their expertise to help achieve the brand’s commercial objectives whilst remaining recognisable
  2. We include guidance on how the brand can flex in order to create surprises
  3. There are absolutely no rules included for pasting up yet another roll of wallpaper.

That's why some might call us a brand response agency. Brand and response. But not one at the expense of the other.



Like Wallpaper

Damask Flock IV - Flashingblade on Deviant Art

Dangerous - sorry, but don't know the snapper of this one – it's been circulated that many times on LinkedIn, it's almost like wallpaper.


This post is an abridged version of a post that originally featured on LinkedIn.

Posted by Larner Caleb under:

. Integrated marketing

. Integrated marketing agency

. Branding agency

. Brand responseIf you’ve haven’t seen this video before, give it a minute to see if you can pass the test: