Adnalysis: Brand strategists, don’t blink
by Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) In a world where everything is in a flux, there’s no time to take a break. Things and ways of doing things keep changing all the time, and there’s always a better way. This is true for brand marketing, too. There’s always something new to learn, something to update yourself on.
Trying to make your brand more attractive to people is a full-time job. Much like raising a baby. When you have a three-year old, you realise how active and aware you constantly need to be as a parent. There’s no time to have ‘off-peak’ moments, unless your child’s being minded by someone else but, even then, your mind is constantly at work.
That’s how managing and trying to grow a brand should be — no rest. You have to constantly keep thinking about how best you can present your brand to people or the market, and ways to be a better brand manager or agency.
Typical life-cycle of a brief in ad agency
A brief comes into the system, depending on the size of the business/brand/client; a team will be assembled; and the work commences. This is usually an intense period, right until the end of the project. When the brief is complete and all material deadlines have been met, the job is closed —but who keeps thinking about the brand or client in question?
In ad agencies, brands or clients experience ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ moments. A peak is when there are active briefs in the system (people actually working and thinking about the brand or problem at hand) and off-peak, which is post or the coming to an end of a brief. The latter is what I refer to as the ‘blink’ moment.
The blink moment may vary for different brands in different industries. Some brands are retail and they seem to be active but. in truth, the activity is almost robotic and it’s just a matter of churning out material. Which isn’t necessarily bad in principle, but what a brand needs is constant active participation.
Strategy is always on (or at least should be)
A strategy only comes to life once there are executions; until then, strategy is just theory. The focus es always on creative executions. Whilst the executions are the tangibles you see, strategy needs to always be at work. When brands or clients aren’t executing, strategic thinking needs to be active in the background.
When the dust settles and the job is closed, strategists should keep active and working: continue thinking about ways to improve the brand, crystalise a brand’s value proposition and clarify a brand’s role not just in people’s minds but also within the competitive landscape. Strategists should keep asking and probing so that brands as concepts are articulated better.
Strategy is the launchpad for all creative exploration and should always be consulted.
As mentioned above, things are constantly in a flux; it’s therefore nonsensical to think that a brand can remain the same in the midst of this inevitable unpredictability. It takes a really long time for anybody working on a brand to truly understand the complexities that lie therein, hence the required ‘always-on’ mentality. When a brief is complete, the brand is still on. Never take your eyes off the ball. Brand-building is as delicate as raising a baby; you can’t afford to take anything for granted. The market place is competitive and so you can’t afford to have off-peak moments.
“Ska ba hemisa. Ska bafa chance. Ska ba forgiva” (Don’t blink) — African proverb
Bogosi Motshegwa (@Thinkerneur) truly believes that advertising can really change the world. He believes that brands, marketers and ad agencies can do even better branding building and advertising. He shares his thoughts on the industry and sometimes has unconventional views. A former committee member of AMASA, an Advisory Council member, a guest speaker and lecturer at Vega, Rosebank College and Red & Yellow, he also does speaker management at TEDxJohannesburg. He is currently a freelance strategist and has founded Thinkerneur, a brand consultancy firm, and is also the co-founder of Melanoid Éclat (for finding black entrepreneurs). He contributes the monthly column, “Adnalysis”, which analyses adland from a strategist’s point of view, to MarkLives.com.
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