Keep Your Eye on the Brand

by os_admin

As we approach this year’s Super Bowl, I’ve been thinking about the anticipation that will reach a crescendo just before game time. Of course, in addition to the game itself, the commercials have become an event to observe in their own right. Due to the enormous volume of eyeballs that will be glued to their screens, advertisers are seduced by the opportunity to expose their brand to consumers in creative new ways.

Some companies spend their entire year’s television advertising budget on the Super Bowl (think Tabasco’s exploding mosquito or Groupon’s controversial Tibetan commercial). For these companies, this single day is critical because it represents an enormous proportion of consumer exposure to their messaging.

The lure of entertaining all of those eyeballs sometimes proves a stumbling point for advertisers. Brand strategy and character are often sacrificed for the sake of creative license or the need to be funny or sexy. Perhaps this stems from a sense of competition around who can create the most entertaining or talked about commercial. It’s like wanting desperately to be the most popular kid in middle school—even if that means not being yourself.

This year, we have Kate Upton to look forward to as she “washes” a Mercedes Benz in slow motion. Hmmm… seems inconsistent with the character and style of other Mercedes ads. I guess she was more fun to watch than Jon Hamm.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe that breakthrough creative, provocative imagery, and fresh messaging can be extremely effective (and fun to watch!). However, advertisers risk confusing consumers and watering down the brand character that they’ve worked hard to establish when such techniques are not aligned with their overall strategy.

Here are a few things advertisers should always keep in mind to make sure that great creative is on the right track:

  1. Who is my target consumer? What do I know about this consumer’s functional and emotional needs? Connecting the brand to these needs is essential to effective brand communication.
  2. What is the long term vision for the brand? What do we want the brand to be 5 years from now? What space do we want to carve out for the brand to own?
  3. What is the character of the brand? If my brand were a person, what adjectives would I use to describe it? We might think of a brand’s character or personality as an artifact of happenstance, but great marketers are deliberate about creating and fostering that character.
  4. How will the creative build the brand? Will it take it in the right direction or does it run counter to the direction we’ve chosen?

These considerations should be reviewed for all marketing communications including promotions, digital/social, and other consumer touch points.

Please contact us for further discussion on this subject or for more information about EMM Group.