KEEP­ING IT TO­GETHER

In a world where there’s an agency for ev­ery­thing, how can brands keep their mes­sag­ing co­he­sive? In­sight Cre­ative’s CEO and strat­egy di­rec­tor Steven Gian­noulis of­fers a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion.

New Zealand Marketing - - Insight Creative -

Ask mar­ket­ing man­agers to list the agen­cies they cur­rently work with, and they’ll likely rat­tle off enough names to cover off the fin­gers on at least one hand. This is just the na­ture of the mod­ern me­dia mo­saic, which has forced clients into find­ing part­ners op­er­at­ing be­tween the frac­tures.

With so many new dis­ci­plines and chan­nels emerg­ing, it’s dif­fi­cult to pin­point a sin­gle agency that can de­liver the same level of qual­ity across every avail­able touch­point. And if clients want the best qual­ity across every chan­nel, then they’re go­ing to have to avail a few ad­di­tional chairs in the cre­ative meet­ings.

Over the last 30 years, In­sight Cre­ative chief ex­ec­u­tive Steven Gian­noulis says he’s seen the mar­keters’ mood os­cil­late be­tween the full ser­vice and spe­cial­ist ar­gu­ment time and time again.

“There’s cer­tainly merit in both sides, but I’m of the view you should use spe­cial­ists for spe­cial­ist dis­ci­plines, which might have nu­ances that only some agen­cies do well,” the In­sight boss ex­plains.

Much like the av­er­age DIY pro­ject, this looks easy on pa­per but things can quickly fall apart when it’s put into prac­tice. The rea­son be­hind this is largely at­trib­ut­able to the dif­fi­culty that comes with ask­ing a num­ber of dif­fer­ent agen­cies—each with unique cre­ative ap­proaches—to de­velop a co­he­sive brand, de­spite op­er­at­ing in their spe­cial­ist ar­eas. Fur­ther ex­ac­er­bat­ing this is­sue is the ten­dency of agen­cies to push the bounds of a brief as they ven­ture to­ward a space that’s le­git­i­mately cre­ative.

“It cre­ates a dilemma,” Gian­noulis says, “be­cause if your agen­cies aren’t push­ing the dial then you’re prob­a­bly talk­ing to the wrong part­ners. You want them to be push­ing the brand. You want them to make peo­ple no­tice it. But at the same time, ev­ery­body has got to be push­ing in the same di­rec­tion.”

This is­sue of­ten man­i­fests as in­con­gru­ence across me­dia chan­nels, with, for in­stance, a so­cial me­dia cam­paign, a dig­i­tal ex­e­cu­tion and TV ad each tak­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent cre­ative di­rec­tion.

“If you’ve got three dif­fer­ent agen­cies all work­ing on the same cam­paign, those three ex­e­cu­tions could be quite dif­fer­ent. You want to en­sure that they un­der­stand what direc­tions to push it in, so that ev­ery­one is push­ing in the same way.”

Ad­ver­tis­ing com­men­ta­tor/ philoso­pher Jeremy Bull­more wrote that peo­ple build brands as birds build nests, from scraps and straws “laid in our path by the brand’s owner – the packs, the pro­mo­tions, the price, the ad­ver­tis­ing – in the cun­ning hope and ex­pec­ta­tion that the brand we thereby build will be the one we’ll come to love and favour”.

If those scraps don’t fit to­gether, and the brand is left with gap­ing holes in con­sis­tency, then all it does is cre­ate doubt in the mind of the con­sumer. With­out be­ing able to pull the pieces to­gether, the con­sumer has lit­tle more than bits of brand rather than a co­he­sive whole.

IF YOUR AGEN­CIES AREN’T PUSH­ING THE DIAL THEN YOU’RE PROB­A­BLY TALK­ING TO THE WRONG PART­NERS. YOU WANT THEM TO BE PUSH­ING THE BRAND. YOU WANT THEM TO MAKE PEO­PLE NO­TICE IT. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, EV­ERY­BODY HAS GOT TO BE PUSH­ING IN THE SAME DI­REC­TION.

Ear­lier in his ca­reer while work­ing on the client side, Gian­noulis was of­ten re­quired to keep brand mes­sag­ing co­he­sive de­spite work­ing with nu­mer­ous agen­cies.

To keep the brand on point, he would in­vite all the part­ners to a meet­ing, dur­ing which they would dis­cuss the key idea be­hind the brand, the de­sired brand out­comes and the roles ev­ery­one would play across the brand. It’s a tra­di­tion that worked so well on the client side that he car­ried it with him into cre­ative­land and still em­ploys it to this day.

“We like to have a reg­u­lar re­view with our clients, and we’ll of­ten get their part­ners in to talk about the brand,” he says. “What we’re do­ing is look­ing at how we can ap­ply the brand ethos con­sis­tently and to ad­dress any is­sues. It’s an op­por­tu­nity for ev­ery­one to share what’s work­ing and what’s not work­ing. Of­ten, you might find that the other agen­cies around the ta­ble are fac­ing sim­i­lar strug­gles. It’s in their in­ter­ests as well to par­tic­i­pate and share.”

Of course, there’s no guar­an­tee of th­ese meet­ings al­ways go­ing ac­cord­ing to plan. Agen­cies all have their own in­ter­ests, and they all like to own the big idea. No one likes to ex­e­cute some­one else’s think­ing. So to co­or­di­nate dis­cus­sions and en­sure that the best idea rather than the big­gest ego de­ter­mines the brand di­rec­tion, Gian­noulis rec­om­mends that mar­keters ap­point a strate­gic brand agency to lead where the brand is go­ing.

“This agency doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily have to do the work, but it needs to co­or­di­nate the process,” he says. “The re­spon­si­bil­ity of this agency is usu­ally to en­sure ideas work and that the dif­fer­ent par­ties are con­tribut­ing in the right places and in a con­sis­tent way.”

More than aes­thet­ics on the sur­face, Gian­noulis says that the key role of the lead strate­gic brand agency is to en­sure the brand is de­liv­er­ing the right per­cep­tions, be­hav­iours and out­comes the com­pany needs.

“Peo­ple base a brand off their ex­pe­ri­ences with a brand, so what you build in­ter­nally is the sin­gle most im­por­tant thing about the process. Brands are al­ways built from the in­side out.”

In­sight Cre­ative is a brand­ing and de­sign agency with over 40 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in de­vel­op­ing and work­ing with some of NZ’S best brands. They are a strate­gic cre­ative agency, de­liv­er­ing big think­ing and ef­fec­tive de­sign - across both print and on­line medi­ums - that changes per­cep­tions, drives be­hav­iours and de­liv­ers re­sults for their clients. in­sightcre­ative.co.nz

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