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Preventing Off-Strategy Advertising

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As you probably know, we spend most of our time helping our clients craft brand strategy, including the brand’s promise and its unique value proposition. We draw on in-depth qualitative and quantitative category, customer and competitor research, brand equity studies, the organization’s core competencies, management’s strategic intent, and the knowledge and creative intuition of many informed individuals. When we arrive at a brand strategy that has widespread support throughout the organization, it has been well vetted as the most advantageous approach. The way we have arrived at this is not trivial, nor is its conclusion.

The next step is the frequent source of significant difficulty. Now it is time for a creative team to translate the brand strategy into a name, tagline or marketing campaign. Some brand promises or unique value propositions are extremely difficult to translate to a pithy tagline or campaign, especially one that has not already been used by another organization.  And creative people don’t like to be constrained. If they come up with an idea that they love, it doesn’t matter if it is off strategy. They know they can sell it anyway because it is brilliant (and maybe it is). The problem is, it does not reinforce the brand strategy.

This compounds the problem – some clients are not sophisticated enough to reject creative content that may be compelling but off strategy.  They are carried away by the creative content while contracting amnesia about the agreed-to brand strategy.

Here are some ways to mitigate this problem. If you are in charge of developing the creative content in support of the brand strategy, NEVER present a creative option that is off strategy.  If other people are developing the creative content, invite them to be active participants in (or at least observers of) the brand strategy formulation. Also, establish creative content evaluation criteria that includes “reinforcement of the brand’s promise and unique value proposition” as a primary criterion.

If you succeed in your brand strategy formulation but then stumble in translating that to creative execution, all of the previous work has been for naught. Don’t let down your guard during creative translation of the brand strategy.  Be ever vigilant in seeing a strategy through to its proper execution.

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