Years ago I had a conversation with a highly creative Marketing Director from a top flight car company. He knew the secrets to engaging people and making his brands popular, and his success was obvious. His Company was No 1. When I looked back on the work he commissioned, the common denominator was that every bit of it made me smile, and sometimes chuckle. I analysed it all and humour was the common denominator.
I became obsessed with creating brand platforms built around laconic, dry humour. To learn how it worked I interviewed comedians, went to comedy nights at the pub, organised comedy workshops for clients and agency creatives, and even started to pen a bit of it.
Writing comedy is hard. It takes an inordinate amount of time to craft, simplify, reduce, all the while enhancing the puns and jokes, site gags or situations. It’s too easy to delve into cynicism, create a comic foil who is the butt of the joke, rather than create a funny joke of itself. Cynicism and sarcasm is inherently mean-spirited, and that isn’t going to make someone like the butt of the joke. They just laugh at whoever or whatever it is.
But I digress.
Being funny wasn’t what my all-too-ahead-of-the-game client focused on. Sure, he wanted to entertain but that was secondary to making people like his brand. The core of his genius was to be liked. He judged creative work by its ability to make people like or love the brand.
Have you ever bought something from a business you despise? Me neither.
Even when it comes to grudge purchases, like insurance or telco’s, you’ll go with the one you “hate the least”. Buying goods and services is not a process of indifference, it is a process of preference. Brand preference.
And how do you build ‘preference’? Remember, brands don’t exist in the physical 3 dimensional world. They are intangible entities that exist only in the heads of the consumer. It’s in there that they earn their stripes. Values and personality traits are overlaid with brand imagery and experience to coalesce into a brand of note, or if the process of building preference is poorly executed, a brand that means nothing.
Preference comes from imparting the right values and personality traits in communications, creating a positive user and shopping experience, cool POS, clever staff sales training, and attractive packaging. Probably in that order of importance.
And the objective should, at the very least, to be liked.
But I think there is more to just being liked. I think brands need to be loved. Creating Brand Love. That is my goal for each and every client I work on, and perhaps just as important for my own brand, elemental.
When I look back at the work I have done and brands I have worked on, the best of it makes you smile, sometimes makes you laugh and like the brand in question. But its time to elevate the game. I reckon we are all in the “love” game now.
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