Advertising is challenging, varied, hard to quantify and most importantly, what works once may not work again. With technology putting consumers in the driver’s seat, brands are no longer in control of their message like they used to be. As advertisers scramble to adjust to this new normal, the role of the creative agency has come under the microscope.
While we’re living in a world today where the pace of change is phenomenal, there are some methods and approaches that don’t change. Focusing on these can help lead to excellence, both in building customer connections and driving sales.
For instance, despite changes in technologies and in executional focus, the agency’s role itself isn’t changing. The change is simply in the details. Ultimately, the creative agency’s role is not dependent on the end technologies. The big picture mission will always be to ensure every piece of communication created for a brand is strategic and on message, while being both engaging and memorable.
Integrate to be great
Cracks in the brand’s integrated communications begin when creative becomes channel-focused. Advertising creative directors focus on advertising. Packaging studios focus on pack design. Graphics studios focus on logos or digital design work. While this is natural because we all know that companies need to specialize in order to be more efficient, this is what can create a disconnect.
There are so many facets to communication. Often, a brand has several parties on their extended communications team in just one market, let alone across the region, making it hard for all team members to stay consistent and deliver excellent work each time.
One sure way for every advertising, digital or branding team to stay on track with the content and message is to incessantly ask “what do consumers want?” When you look at everything from a customer’s perspective, you realize that consumers like brands that offer them something memorable. Finding the “memorable” angle and delivering it through they communications, is the agency’s job.
Memorability could be delivered in many ways from online interactive experiences to great products or simply a playful piece of communication.
Three things allow agencies to deliver valuable and memorable work—ingenuity, problem solving and creativity.
Greater is better
Advertisers and creative folk are always told to think big which tends to translate to needing an idea that is large in scale and works across many channels. However, what you really need is to think great. Big ideas aren’t as powerful as great ideas, even if they are larger in scale.
Greater ideas and executions can do two things: first, achieve their specific task to package, promote, advertise or inform, and second, to shape brand perception and increase overall brand value. Great ideas have a larger effect on the brand and has legs beyond the specific task it was created for.
Great work is achievable from any channel starting point. What matters in the creation of successful work is the partnership between the agency and the brand as well as the people involved.
Hire to go higher
Your people are the only thing that truly differentiate your firm. While talent development and acquisition involves many factors such as cost pressures and hiring capacities, it is probably the most important factor in shaping a company’s output and value that the company can offer.
Finding the right people is always a challenge. It is important to pick your people with the relevant skill sets and attitudes; it’s not always about their experience. Looking at potential staff members’ thought processes and approach can deepen the talent pool from which you can hire. Bringing together a group of talent with varied backgrounds and training, but with a similar approach to problem solving will only add more flavor and creativity in to the mix—something no agency or brand will regret.
Bringing in architecture students, multimedia creatives, illustrators, journalists, instead of those formally trained in the industry, can bring so many benefits and fresh thinking—provided they are all focused on problem solving and creating interesting results that are kept on track by senior experienced leadership, strong research and strategic creative direction.
Coming back to where we started, there is no one correct way to do things in this industry, be either with hiring or thinking. But, rather, a combination of skill, practice and gut feel will that will encourage new ways of thinking. We need to be flexible and courageous, and most importantly remember to embrace change.
Ian Perkins is ECD of Name&Name. He has previously worked as a CD at W+K and BBH.