It happens all the time.
A potential client calls us looking for a new campaign.
Sometimes that's exactly what they need.
And, sometimes it isn’t.
The easiest thing for an agency to do is give the client what they ask for. Put the creative team on some ideas and spin out a snappy, attention-getting campaign.
However, the questions that a good strategist has to ask are, “Is the client ready? Do they have a solid foundation on which to build new client relationships?”
Clients have the opportunity to build relationships with their customers that can pay off over and over again for a lifetime. But, this can only happen if the brand foundation is solid. A campaign may be clever, but unless it’s rooted in brand fundamentals, it may garner attention that ultimately never serves the brand.
It’s one thing to generate a laugh and another to inspire brand devotion. Take the following exercise as an example. Look at any recent ad campaign. Could any company slap its logo on that campaign and get the same results? If so, the company and its campaign are likely lacking in the following brand fundamentals:
1. Authenticity. The Internet has created a channel for instant consumer feedback. Make a claim and it better be real and validated through consumer sentiment.
2. Reasons to believe. Every campaign should be built from a brand position, exemplify a company’s belief system and give consumers reasons to believe in the brand. Engagement is far more likely to occur if the campaign aligns around a shared belief system.
3. Differentiation. Is the brand clearly differentiated from the competition in a campaign? Are the claims authentic, believable and unique? If not, any logo could live on the campaign and the brand equity is diminished.
Perhaps a metaphor would be helpful.
Think of a campaign as adding a second-floor addition to your home.
Before you can build a new addition to the house, the builder has to ask if the foundation is solid and the infrastructure up to code.
If the foundation isn’t stable and you add a shiny new addition, your foundation will crack and your home will sink, ultimately losing value. If you don’t have proper infrastructure, the quality of life in your home will suffer.
Think of the foundation of your home today as your brand, the infrastructure as technology and the shiny new addition as the campaign.
A second-floor addition may be awesome if the foundation of your home is solid enough and your infrastructure can support growth.
But, if the foundation and the infrastructure aren't ready, you may have to take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What are the necessary steps to strengthening your brand foundation and getting your infrastructure ready to support real growth?”
Learn more about creating a killer brand strategy here.