2020 is the big break. The year the world was forced to change things. The New Normal. Well that is the narrative we are growing used to hearing. However the more we have looked and listened, the more we realize that rather than a “new” normal the world is just moving faster in long-predicted ways. The way we approach creative advertising and other content for brands is developing, and will continue to develop the same way. Technology will always add some interesting techniques and refinements but at the end of the day great creative messaging always depends on human connection. PERKS OF STORYTELLING
Our ongoing series of Lead Talks has only reinforced our belief that, as 2020 has highlighted how fragile we are, the tone and style of communication should be more compassionate, more humane and also more relevant. People are refocusing on very personal and human needs like health, hygiene, relationships and care, so the tone of communication should be complementary and also reflect a more human touch. PERKS OF STORYTELLING
A few months ago we wrote an article in these pages suggesting that there are three types of creative message that brands should consider in these times: HOPE (communication that offers solace and encourages people to feel that they can cope), HELP (communications focused on illustrating practical ways how the brand can help people break through barriers and make life better), HI-JINKS (reminders from the brand that life has good moments, that you can get some relief, that as humans we are doing ok). More recently we held one of our Lead Talk podcasts where we further discussed how brand creatives are evolving and need to adapt to the COVID-19 world and beyond. We were joined in a wonderful discussion by: PERKS OF STORYTELLING
Of course as we write this in COVID-19 times, things are always changing. COVID-19 times, work from home, social distance, Eid, wanting to see and be close to family, monsoon, more hardships all equal to a “new” normal. Marketers not only need to navigate through this, but must also find a way to stay relevant and meaningful. The problem is that, in their need to “keep up sales,” too many marketers jump from concern to promotion and undo all credibility.
Three or four months ago we saw lots of companies saying “We are with you”, or “We support you.” Wholesome messages that all too often seemed generic, like a template had been used. Some brands did a wonderful job of illustrating how they could help solve people’s real problems; the right approach for a crisis. Or maybe, simply, the right approach?
One of our Lead Talk guests, Jeremy Perrott, highlights what he sees as the five keys to great brand creativity in future:
- Use science over fiction: be realistic with what you can do, explain the facts simply and clearly, and don’t create impossible-to-fulfill scenarios.
- With empathy: understand the concerns of your target consumer, clearly show how you empathize and can help in a way that is emotionally meaningful. Make sure that goes beyond simply advertising and is expressed in how you do point of sale, online and offline experiences.
- And Honestly: base your creativity on credible truths, and an understanding of how people really feel and recognizing that with human connections at the core of your messaging.
- Using technology when relevant, not as a gimmick: from the medium you choose, to the production techniques, to the potential to experiment with new formats, remember this is, “How you can make your story clearer, it is not the story.”
- To create real content engagement: not wallpaper generics. Forget what you see others doing, ignore the desire to just list your product attributes and focus on how you can get people engaged and creating emotional links.
Remember that your potential consumer is geared with all kinds of technology. This drives dual implications for your brand creative messaging. Firstly, make sure that whatever your message is, it is delivered consistently across all formats. Too often in recent months we have seen brands create films for television or digital formats, trying to show empathy and humanity, only to juxtapose it to their functional, utilitarian online messaging. It does more than confuse, it creates a bad feeling of distaste. People are left wondering, “do they really care?” While it’s important to drive home facts alongside feelings, it shouldn’t compromise consistency in tone and messaging structure. Secondly, remember that whatever you say will be investigated. We are constantly amazed to see brands create new advertising campaigns that are warm, touching, funny and meaningful, but don’t check their Google searches, Wikipedia entries, or their own websites to ensure consistency of tone, messaging and information. PERKS OF STORYTELLING
You don’t have to be serious. As we said, sometimes hi-jinks, a sense of entertainment and distraction come together to deliver the right messaging. However, it is all about understanding the moods and desires of the people you want to reach.
This means having some real insight and bringing alive a truth that your brand can be connected to, and that, in turn, means doing your homework. Great creative commercial messaging does not come from a flash of brilliance. The final execution may be excellent but you will find that all great campaigns are based on professionals looking long and hard at what matters to people, what is relevant about the times and the brand and digging into how your target sees the world around them. That means market research, instead of the usual, “I know my consumer” assumptions. Do your homework and look for what matters.
Creative communication planning for the next six months should be relevant and contextual. Go do more research into the way people really feel about life, about how they are coping, about how they need help. Find out what people will see as a real benefit and then communicate how your brand can help with that in an honest way. Tell stories, not just facts. Create solutions, not promotions. Touch our human side, don’t show off technique. PERKS OF STORYTELLING