Building better brand ideas
Thankyou to everyone that contributed to the post on brand ideas and their seeming rarity value.
I had wanted to create a definitive set of criteria for judging whether you had a proper brand idea or not. But this exercise wasn't particularly fruitful - or at least I think its tough to try an legislate for strategic genius. And indeed as decent a list as any was included in the post I wrote about Jon Steel's Perfect Pitch - truth, beauty, excitement, significance and persuasion if you remember.
But I really like this chart - it sort of fell out of the conversations.
The problem - I am a great believer that great ideas start with big problems. And the more fundamantal the problem the better. This has always been my defintion of radical as taught to me by the great Jon Leach - radical means solving problems at their most fundamental level - or root (hence radix or radical) cause.
Your position - this is about showing that you care about the things that we care about. It is partly taken from the Cluetrain idea that people are no longer interested in your positioing only your position and partly from John Grant's idea that brands need to find a bigger enthusiasm to have. Dirt is good is about finding a bigger enthusiasm than detergent. I'm pretty keen now that all brand strategy this more opinionated approach.
Your promise - I think this is an important part of the mix. The promise is the way in which you (implicitly or explicitly) prove to the consumer your credibility in holding that position and what you intent to do about it. Implicit in the dirt is good position is the promise that Persil will get your kids' clothes clean no matter how dirty they get.
Your Brand Idea - This is an outward facing crystallisation of the postion and promise ideally exploiting the tools and tricks of edibility, memorability and transmission I am so keen on. Dirt is good works because it is bold, contrary and based on a familiar structural form. Critically this cannot simply be an idea that the brand has had but should be the idea behind the brand - or as Adrian commented, the brand ideal. Don't confuse this with an advertising idea or a creative idea. These can come out of the brand idea (and great brand ideas should yield great communications in the right hands) but they are unlikely to be the primary manifestation of the brand idea.
Incidentally there should be afollow up chart to show the way then that the activities of the brand should explode out from the brand idea creating the molecular structure Grant talks about.
Simple as that really.
And which of those would you say is the most important; or, would you claim they all are equal parts of the same equation?
For what it's worth, I think the promise is becoming more important with the day. Perhaps the most important, especially given the rise of consumer generated parody/social networking. I know it's been said before, but if the promise isn't rooted in some kind of innate truth (Persil, for example), I think the brand idea will flounder.
Posted by: Will at December 19, 2006 09:48 PM
I see them as a bit of a flow - from problem to position and promise and then onto the crystallisation of the brand idea.
The brand idea is the most important clearly but you can't get there with out a strong position on your brand, your category or the wider world in which the brand operates.
Posted by: Richard at December 19, 2006 11:47 PM
You've done it again!
Just when you think that you cannot theorise brilliant genius ideas, Richard is coming with a clear, bold definitive criteria.
Now, I still hold to my comment from the previous post that we will always have very few genius brand ideas just as we'll always have very few genius stuff in any other part of our life and culture. But this one gives you simple yet bold criteria against which to judge your ideas.
Posted by: Asi at December 20, 2006 11:07 AM
Im very wary of using charts and diagrams to footprint borderless ideas, but I think one has a lot of merit.
It fits well with good ads, and contrasts with bad ads; which shows that whilst not perfect (no formula for brand/ad ideas ever can be), it is accurate.
The problem area is particularly good. If you look at most of the great ideas of recent years, they all are rooted in a fundamental problem. ([honda]Diesel engines being rubbish, [sony] technology as a part of our humanity, etc)
Posted by: Rob Mortimer at December 20, 2006 03:31 PM
The interesting implication of all this is that you have to move closer to what would have previously been called the client, maybe so close as to actually work for the client. I give you a new concept - the marketing department.
Posted by: John Dodds at December 20, 2006 05:57 PM
I think its very good.
I used to work with just the problem and (the beginnings of) a brand idea - which we called 'the how?' in enigmatic st lukesian fashion. The other two feel like quite essential elements that come up a lot these days; in some ways the one raises the other - eg if you start quite broad what links this with any necessity to the business beyond 'we said it/did it first?
I guess there are 3 questions:
1. is there anything missing?
eg Where do the audience/people sit within this? Is it that you are covering that within each element (eg dirt is good is meaningless unless you have a type of modern parent in mind?)
2. what unites/connects up these various categories
3. is it model-of-brand neutral ie good for any project
or does it suit a certain type of market/brand/plan?
Anyway, as I said at the start it's good. eg if those were the headings of the agency creative brief and I were a young planner again, I think I'd be very happy working with it.
Posted by: John Grant at December 21, 2006 01:20 AM
This is absolutely splendid. As good a way as I have seen of approaching a brand idea. And the understanding implicit in "the problem" that at some level every heroic brand needs a dragon to slay seems truer by the day.
Posted by: Rory Sutherland at January 7, 2007 09:16 PM
Tried to post a comment on your post about John Steel's truth, beauty, excitement, significance and persuasion. But that seems to be closed. Some of the posted comments seem to keep struggling with the beauty thing. I guess because the writers explain beauty as mere aesthetics. When planning, I try to find a truth people can embrace. I guess 'beauty' is about attraction. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I think that is right. When someone feels attracted to a conceptual thought, proposition, message, story - whatever you want to call it - it is because they recognize something important from themselves in it. People don't see the world as it is; they see it the way they are. And if they feel attracted to an idea, that is because they see their truth. A truth that ties in well to their beliefs. Does this make sense?
Posted by: Robert at January 19, 2007 12:12 AM
Robert, makes perfect sense. And I love the idea of people being attracted to ideas.
Sorry I closed the post on the Perfect Pitch - it was getting spammed rather horribly.
Posted by: Richard at January 19, 2007 01:41 PM