April 22, 2007
Every so often we have a few, unrelated things to share which are top-of-mind—mainly because our clients bring them up during our weekly engagements. So, this week we’ll take a break from the usual single-topic e-letter and pass on these “short subjects” to you.
SS #1: How to Get Attention
Although most marketers readily talk about their need to achieve “impact” or “cut-through” as they develop new communications, our experience is that many do not really appreciate how creative people approach the challenge. The conventional marketer’s thinking expects the creative teams to do “something loud” and to “make the product bigger.” But just as many Americans in Paris have discovered over the years, raising the volume of one’s English doesn’t get French taxi drivers to understand (or even to want to listen) any better!
On the other hand, the approach most good creative people use to achieve involving impact is one that is well-highlighted in a just-released book (definitely worth reading) entitled Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. The book is fundamentally about ideas--and why some ideas take hold of people’s imagination and others do not. Here’s an excerpt that gets right to the point of creating positive, involving impact:
“The most basic way to get someone’s attention is this: Break a pattern.
Humans adapt incredibly quickly to consistent patterns. Consistent sensory stimulation makes us tune out: Think of the hum of an air conditioner, or traffic noise, or the smell of a candle, or the sight of a bookshelf. We may become consciously aware of these things only when something changes: the air conditioner shuts off. Your spouse rearranges the books.”
If you don’t believe that most communications these days in most categories are akin to an air conditioner’s hum (or worse yet, as Heath & Heath also humorously describe, an airline attendant’s safety demonstration), just pick up any weekly magazine and thumb through the ads. You’ll surely see big and bigger package shots and many recognizable models (if only you could remember their names); what you won’t see all that much, however, are ideas that break a pattern.
SS #2: The Brand Kitchen
Our colleague, Dave Roche, is fond of encouraging our clients to construct a “brand kitchen” in their office buildings. You may be wondering, as we did at first, what such a place would be
like. Actually, Dave’s notion calls to mind something out of the Mike Vance school (The Creative Thinking Association of America). Mike is a long ago Disney creative type who for the past 25 years or so has been training and consulting all kinds of companies on how to get more creative. One of his long-held recommendations is that companies provide their employees with a “kitchen of the mind.” Just as a traditional kitchen houses many types of cooking equipment, so would a kitchen of the mind house many types of creative models, tools, books, collages, games, and so on. It would literally be an in-house venue where individuals and teams could go for all kinds of creative stimulation.
Dave’s idea runs along these lines—but with focus on brand-building instead of idea-generating. So, in the brand kitchen one would surely find laminated on the walls and housed in shelves such things as: the Brand Positioning Statement; the latest Positioning Statements for key competitors (along with current versions of their communications); full-color collages of the Brand Character—who the brand IS and who it is NOT…perhaps even some DVD versions of the Brand character set to words, pictures, and music; a few mini-shelf sets, if applicable, representing the key channels of sale; a section featuring “brands to admire”—with articles and examples of marketing strategies and tactics that the brand would like to emulate. You get the idea. The key is that this brand kitchen, like the kitchen in your home, is where everyone hangs out and talks. It’s the “center of the brand house.” And whenever the brand has important meetings or assignments to achieve, it all starts here.
SS#3: Positioning Is What the Brand DOES (not just what it says)
This short subject could easily become a longer one. In fact, it’s a subject we’ve addressed many times and in various ways in these weekly DISPATCHESTM. But we saw another example recently of a brand driving its distinctive positioning in packaging and merchandising innovations (though some might call them gimmicks)…and we wanted to call attention to it. When you really think about it, after all, most fast-moving consumer goods invest the bulk of their brand positioning dollars in things like merchandising.
The brand in the spotlight is Coors Light. If you aren’t a mainstream beer drinker or simply haven’t been paying much attention to the Bud Light-Miller Lite-Coors Light battles, Coors Light has been building upon its heritage as the colder light beer. And this IS a legitimate heritage which Coors Light owns. Though perhaps many beer drinkers are unaware of it, Coors Light has always been delivered from the brewer to its distributors in refrigerated trucks and those same distributors have always stored the brew in refrigerated warehouses. The thinking being, of course, that beer kept cold tastes fresher, better. But it hasn’t been until the past couple of years or so that the brand marketers have taken this unique coldness directly to the drinker—first in the form of the advertising (“As Cold as the Rockies”), but now in even more tangible ways.
As reported in a recent Advertising Age article, the brand is implementing two “ice cold” innovations: (1) an on-counter “glacier” that pours beer to bar patrons at sub-freezing temperatures—the tap handle forms a layer of ice as it delivers the Coors Light at between 28.5 and 31 degrees farenheit, compared to the 36-40 degrees most other beers draw at; (2) and the “cold-activated” bottle with a label that turns blue when the beer reaches the perfect, sub-freezing drinking temperature. Hokey? Maybe a little…but it’s really nice to see a brand getting serious about establishing its differentiated positioning and bringing it to life in ways consumers can actually touch.
BOATS & HELICOPTERS:
We’ll make this week’s B&H real simple:
- You want impact in your communications? Break (don’t follow) a pattern.
- You want to make sure your brand is as competitive as can be? Build a brand kitchen.
- You really want to implement and own your brand positioning? Go beyond your communications and DO something innovative that makes the positioning impossible to ignore.
Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney
© 2003 Brand Development Network (BDN) International. All rights reserved.