WHAT'S YOUR STORY?

Ideally, it's grounded in the relevant truth: relevant to the target audience and truthful about the product. Brands that can draw a direct line from Mission/Vision/Positioning straight through to the point of purchase can create a brain-pleasing aesthetic. That's because the human brain is hardwired to seek out patterns. Telling a consistent, purpose-driven story across the customer journey helps foster an engaging brand experience.

 

WHY SHOULD ANYONE CARE?

To be significant, the brand story needs to connect in two critical ways: emotional and rational. Neuroscience indicates purchase decisions are initially driven by emotion and later supported by reason. Whether it's buying a home or a stick of gum, it works the same way. We fall in love (or like) with something, then come up with rational justifications for the emotional decision we've already made. To move people through the purchase funnel, a brand should lead with emotion to attract attention, then back it up with rational arguments.

These concept boards demonstrate driving emotional connection in an otherwise impassive category: commercial banking.

MAKE A GOOD PROFIT.

I've seen enough things and been coached by enough people to know for sure that's it's possible to do good, be good, and make money. By the way, you can also have one helluva fun time doing it.

 

Developing brand campaigns is a negotiation–a delicate balancing act between competing interests. Clients have stuff to sell, agencies want the freedom to do their best work, and both need to grow business. The best negotiation results in all sides getting 100% of what they want. It’s not a 50-50 compromise leaving everyone half happy. It’s not always possible, but it’s always a noble pursuit. 

This Creative Circus podcast interview sheds more light on how I look at things.

TRUST

A Useful Cliche

Hire people you trust. Trust them to do what they were hired to do. It’s what agencies want from clients, staff needs from supervisors, and creatives look for in outside resources. It makes an organization a great places to work.

 

 

GREAT WORK & GREAT PROCESS

Over the last decade or so, agencies have tried to expand digital capabilities, or traditional ones, or both. It’s been a rough road that's created friction and nuked relationships. I’ve witnessed it, and unknowingly contributed to it. I’ve also come away with tangible solutions that leverage the best of what traditional agencies and technology start ups have brought to the creative process.

At Modea, I took a deep dive into the digital space and came away with an ideation process that coordinates all marketing disciplines and generates a lot of solid ideas very quickly. No matter your job title, as long as you are creative, with my process, you can have a shot at making the big idea. That gets everyone excited. My ideation process is called Three Rooms. It’s a proprietary process that can be merchandised to give an agency a competitive advantage.

 

Here's an award winning product of the Three Room process.

ON MAKING IDEAS

The difference between good and great is a full trash can. That applies to beginners and seasoned vets alike. If you make 10 ideas, the chances of being brilliant are so-so. But if you make 50, the odds of reaching greatness go up. 

 

Client killed the idea? That’s okay because we’ve got a million of ‘em. The most awarded Art Director in the history of One Show, Bob Barrie once said, “Sometimes your best ideas come after your clients kill your best ideas”. That doesn’t mean it's not painful when someone kills your babies, but resiliency is one of our best assets for making great work and building great client relationships.

 

 

 

ON FORMING RELATIONSHIPS

Managing Up

The key to building great relationships with clients, supervisors, and other departments is creating value. The way to create value is to understand their goals and come up with ideas to help them achieve those goals.

 

Managing Down

See Managing Up. It works the same in both directions. A good leader will identify the venn diagram overlap between an employee’s career goals and the organization's goals, then put practices in place to achieve both.

 

 

ON UNDERSTANDING CLIENTS

We birth the ideas, but clients live with them. I had this epiphany when an architect working on my house proposed an idea I didn’t care for. He defended it by pointing out the overall aesthetic would suffer without it. I objected, “But you don’t have to live with it”. The moment those words came out of my mouth, I understood my clients much better. Agencies develop and sell the idea, then move on. The client lives with its impact much longer.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

In the advertising industry, creative people don’t get a lot of training for becoming good managers. They make famous creative campaigns, win big awards, get promoted to management, and everyone around them hopes for the best. To do well as leaders, we have to self-educate. I've worked closely with a personal business coach and done a fair bit of reading to develop my leadership philosophy.

 

It’s Your Ship

The youngest captain in the history of the Navy recounts his two-year journey transforming one of the worst performing ships in the fleet into one of the best. Along the way, the ship Benfold, broke long-standing Navy records for performance. There wasn’t a dry eye on the ship when it's captain rotated out. The key to his success? Empower the crew to initiate positive change and recognize them for it.

 

Love is the Killer App

Tim Sanders, Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo during its heyday, extols the virtues of a unique approach to success: something he calls biz love. It means you strategically give away your knowledge, network, and humanity to people with whom you want to build great relationships. And you do it with no self-interest attached. Tim details the steps involved and the amazing results as benefits return tenfold.

 

The Buying Brain

Dr A.K. Pradeek, a leading neuroscience researcher in the field of shopper marketing, introduced me to the practice of using brain science to gain insight into the subconscious influences at work when people are making purchase decisions. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) observes what happens in the brain and formulates well-reasoned conclusions that enable more effective marketing. It yields a fascinating set of actionable insights I have used to create and deploy more effective marketing campaigns. Science is indeed a powerful tool for informing and supporting otherwise subjective creative decisions.

 

Strength Finders

By now, many of us are familiar with the organizational strategy of building on the strengths and passions of team members, rather than their weaknesses. When the team’s collective deep dive skill sets cover all the bases, it performs amazingly well. It's been dubbed a T-Shaped talent model. I’m a big believer.