What do JD Power and choosy mothers have in common?

Think about the brands you trust most–and why. Chances are your impression has been shaped by a source of authority. In fact, many of the world’s most successful brands are inextricably linked to one. There are more examples of this than we can list here, but for starters, there’s Oprah for Weight Watcher’s, 4 out of 5 dentists for Trident, and Rotten Tomatoes for the next movie you might be seeing.

In contrast, when we hear that a Kardashian has reeled in over a million dollars for a single Instagram post, it becomes harder for consumers to know who or what to trust. Consequently, when a superiority claim is delivered credibly and connects with consumers, it’s not just an achievement; it’s a true competitive advantage. 

source of authority can be as integral to branding as positioning, reasons-to-believe, and brand character. But in the case of too many brands, it’s a missed opportunity, especially since it’s one of the most powerful levers that a marketer can pull to stimulate behavior change. 

Have you thought about who or what will serve as a source of authority for your brand? At Glue, we believe the most persuasive candidate will be third parties or third-party-generated content with the power to validate, create, and even elevate claims.  Candidates to be considered include

  • Individuals, eg healthcare professionals, social media influencers, current users
  • Organizations or groups, eg academic centers, associations, the media
  • Information, such as clinical trial data and survey results

The Glue message is don’t overlook source of authority as a component of your communications strategy. If you do, you may inadvertently relinquish the higher ground to a challenger already in your market–or in the wings. 

Glue has been named a top branding agency according to DesignRush. For more: https://www.designrush.com/agency/logo-branding

 

Getting the best creative from your agency is a two-way street

 

A common refrain is that a strong client-agency partnership leads to the best creative output. At Glue–recognized as a top New York Branding Company on DesignRush–we completely agree. But what constitutes a strong partnership? And why does partnership even matter? After all, shouldn’t agencies just deliver great campaigns, since that’s what they’re paid to do?

In theory, yes. But agencies don’t sell widgets, they sell ideas, which come from the minds of people. 

As a client, you want your agency’s very best creative team to be devoted to your business. But so does everyone else. And because that team is in high demand, they almost always––maybe not at first, but eventually––have a choice about what brands they want to service.

So here are three ways to help you get the best creative team and their best work:

  1. The creative brief

Great creative campaigns are on-strategy. They engage the target audience by eliciting responses such as “that’s me! “or “that’s for me!” And then they motivate action by molding perceptions of a brand as important and differentiating, ie something of value that would be hard––if not impossible––to replace. They reflect target-audience insights, and the positioning and brand character of the product.

Sound like the core components of a creative brief? Exactly. Which is why having that document thoroughly vetted and approved by the client is the essential first step to getting great work. The creative brief and the process that produces it give the agency the knowledge it needs to not only deliver a well-designed campaign, but one that will effectively build business.

  1. Fewer meetings, more time

The big idea that generates great creative doesn’t typically arise in a formal meeting. More often than not, it surfaces at an unpredictable moment, after all of the information contained in the creative brief and supportive documents have had a chance to marinate in the minds of the creative team assigned to your business.

As Joseph Campbell might describe it, a creative thinker needs to be given a chance to follow his or her bliss. The eureka moment that results may happen in a dream, in the shower, or standing in line at the supermarket. It’s the reason copywriters and art directors keep a pad by their bedside or have the dictation function at-the-ready on their smart phone.

When we, as an agency, are in the midst of creative concepting we give our teams as much time and latitude as possible. We also welcome clients to brainstorm with us, with the caveat that fewer meetings and more unscheduled free-form interactions are the proven formula for getting the best outcomes.

  1. Transparency, accessibility, and a willingness to be uncomfortable

You’ve heard the adage that clients get the work that they deserve. In our experience, that’s true, as great creative is fueled by active client engagement. Its client guidance that ensures that the agency understands the finer nuances of the campaign’s objectives, whom the key decision makers will be, and what success looks like for them. That’s the transparency piece.

Agencies also are heavily reliant on clients to be accessible and responsive to us throughout the process, as the closer we get to identifying possible creative solutions, the more questions we are likely to have. Since we are usually facing a tight deadline, we depend upon clients to get back to us as quickly as possible, so that time is not lost going down proverbial rabbit holes. 

And last, but perhaps the hardest ‘ask’ of all, is that we want our clients to trust us enough to accept that our work may make them feel uncomfortable. Great creative must command attention, have a point-of-view, and should never be predictable.  If it’s intended to change behavior, clients and target audiences have to feel it. If the work doesn’t give you goosebumps, a quickened pulse, or make you a little nervous, how will it ever change the mindset of your intended customer?

As your agency, our job at Glue would be to find that magical idea that slices through the noise and hum of the status quo without being off-putting or inflammatory. Creative that leverages insights to do just that will capture the imagination of your customer and do what advertising does best—sell!    

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work

Is your brand prepared for the future? It can be with a competitive simulation workshop.

Companies can anticipate possible or likely competitive behaviors and environmental dynamics faster and better than they would otherwise with a competitive simulation workshop. Armed with the critical insights they yield, brands can adapt their plan to gain significant competitive advantage. That’s why they should be a core component of strategic brand development.

When executed properly, their output can help guide everything from positioning and messaging to branding, tactical planning, preemptive competitive counter-attacks, and ongoing lifecycle management. They should also be structured to ensure effective learning.

Getting started: The catalyst for a competitive simulation workshop is a comprehensive understanding of potential future-state scenarios. These scenarios are typically based on

  • Information available in the literature
  • Competitive intelligence provided by the client
  • Primary market research involving internal and external stakeholders, especially influencers.

Once this information is synthesized, the future scenarios should:

  • Be feasible and of high probability
  • Have significant impact on the brand’s ability to meet sales and market share objectives
  • Remain largely outside of client control
  • Take into account potential competitive action at the product or portfolio level
  • Be different enough from the other scenarios to be worthy of consideration

The workshop itself: Workshops are ideally 1.5 to 2 days in duration. On Day 1, scenarios are evaluated iteratively in small and large groups using tools and templates that assist in determining:

1) The probability that the scenario (all or in part) will occur

2) Product/portfolio winners and losers

3) Baseline and emergent unmet needs by target-audience type

4) The most significant opportunities and threats to brand success

5) A recommended set of prioritized actions that should be taken as a result, either proactively or reactively.

Ideally, Day 2 culminates in a live presentation to senior management that focuses on the critical steps the team will take in response to prevailing trends. In addition, the group determines what steps should be implemented once certain future-state scenario events occur. Whether or not such a presentation is feasible, these action steps are captured in a PowerPoint deck to serve as a guiding star for the extended team.

 Making it memorable: According to Stanford physics and education professor and Nobel Laureate Carl Wieman, an effective active learning approach can improve understanding and retention of the material being discussed, while boosting the satisfaction of those taking part in the discussion as well.

Based upon these findings, Glue fosters active learning in our workshops. We consider them a success only if the learnings are remembered, and applied to strategy, positioning messaging, tactical planning, etc. by the full team.

To heighten attendee involvement and long-term impact, we recommend a range of creative and interactive exercises that are incredibly fun, and are able to pull even the most reserved participants out of their shells.

For more examples of big-agency thinking, without the big agency, visit glueadvertising.com/#work