Please think generously


Image courtesy of Sagasurfer.

Much of my time is spent at the moment thinking about the nature of brand ideas - how to build them, and critically how to spot whether what you have got is good enough.

To date I have been unable to create a fail safe ready reckoner for great brand ideas - although regular readers will know I have a very particular approach to building them. The truth is that there is no process that you can follow that will churn out great brand ideas, you just sort of, have to have them. And please do not be fooled by charlatans that claim to have a special product, process or workshop to generate these ideas, any hardware is only as good as the software that runs on it.

However, I think that there is one thing that is absolutely true of great brand ideas - they are generous.

I don't mean generous to their customers, though this is always nice, but generous to the other organisations collaborating on the project.

Generosity is clearly not the be all and end all but when you brief your partners (whether creative, media, digital, PR, instore or anyone else) if you can see them literally salivate at the thought of the work that they are going to be able to produce...

If the moment they understand the idea, they can already see that it will show off their prowess, allow them to meet the expectations the client has of them, give them a great case study and make working on the project enjoyable...

And if what you have is a proper 24 carat brand idea not just an advertisinng conceit or an executional flourish then you are probably onto a winner.

One gets a real sense that the people that have got to work with the campaign for real beauty, in whatever field, have got to produce the best work of their lives. That is a generous idea.

Short commerical break because I love this online ad.
Now, you make think is all decidedly wet. But I assure you it is a shortcut to knowing whether what you have is any good.

Of course it helps if this generosity of thinking is matched with a generosity of spirit - a little humility goes a long way. It may be your idea but it will only live with their enthustic delivery.

So please think genersously.


Great post. Does any body have any idea if dove has been able to capitalise from the campaign? i.e. results.

Posted by: Jay at April 6, 2007 09:26 AM

No hard numbers, but around me (in the Netherlands) I hear a lot about women who know use or at least consider Dove as part of their beauty "portfolio".

So I think there are definitely some results.

Posted by: Scott at April 6, 2007 10:40 AM

another way of measuring this: doesn;t it make your most cyncial creative in the agency smile.

Posted by: mark at April 6, 2007 05:46 PM

i love this idea. been using it pretty much daily since you coined it at the summit thing.

Posted by: beeker at April 7, 2007 11:55 AM

Generosity of spirit is an interesting space for agencies to occupy between public companies (legally obliged to consider profit over all other considerations) and people/the world.

I had this conversation with Frank Lowe (I had just presented my 'gift economy' thing) and he said its always been a gift; eg 'they didnt have to make it that good'. To clients frustration at times we really care about the ideas and their reception and not just the sales targets or bottom line.

One thing which comes up a lot in the new green marketing book is 'beautiful coincidences' - a situation where meeting green or social objectives is also a breakthrough for the business. Like computers for schools or O2's keeping your old mobile phone with a new contract.

Posted by: John Grant at April 17, 2007 09:51 AM

I'm sorry. I find that view quite vacuous, twee and meaningless.

Posted by: Tony at April 18, 2007 11:21 AM

Sorry - my bad - I meant to write

I find I'm quite vacuous twee and meaningless. I'm sorry.

Posted by: tony at April 19, 2007 09:01 AM

Sorry - my good - your bad

The idea of brand ideas being generous I find really dull and camp. It's the kind of thing I'd expect to find in an equally uninsightful publication LoveMarks.

But, herrr herrr herr, go on, pretend to be me and reword my post, that's worthy of loads of cool points.

Posted by: Tony at April 19, 2007 10:32 AM

Question: does Virgin have a great and generous brand idea (something to do with loving their customers?)or it is just a 'tone of voice' thing? My poor old cable company ntl has been taken over and you can instantly see the difference in 'brandiness' (a kind of business randiness). I think that Virgin pioneered brands talking to us in 'matey' language. Even Barclays are doing it now with the 'hole in the wall' thing (ugh) but Virgin have gone on to address me in language that implies they want to go to bed with me not just be my mate. Hello you, indeed. Anyway, my question is, does Virgin have a brand idea or is this something else?

Posted by: Dominic at April 20, 2007 01:24 PM

i like this, but in some ways i hate this.

Being generous seems like such a nice idea. But you've got to mean it. And if it comes from the marketing department, that probably means the brand doesn't mean it, just someone read it on a blog someplace.

that's hopelessly cynical i know but it's late.

Posted by: sidekick at April 29, 2007 09:48 PM