by Stefan Mumaw
As creatives, our job is to generate useful, novel ideas for our clients, ideas that will help make our client’s product or service famous. In short, we make a living generating monster ideas.
We typically start with the project we’re hired to create, generating ideas to make it as successful towards our goal of unmitigated famousness as possible. We do everything within our power to communicate everything the client desires, whether that’s through pictures, words or both. But in the end, regardless of how good of an idea we’ve generated and executed, we still have a hurdle to overcome, one for which we, as creatives, rarely account.
We still have to take that message to the audience.
There’s an innate wall that exists between the media we use to communicate and the audience to whom we are communicating. That wall is experience, or a lack thereof. A brochure, ad, TV spot, logo, website, package, catalog…all communication vehicles from which our message is transported, but have we considered how that message is transported? How are we communicating to the audience? Are we telling them our message and asking them to believe us, or are we showing them our value and proving what we say?
How many of us would buy a car without test driving it? Seems silly, right? That car may be beautiful in pictures and video, it may perform amazingly in comparative research, be priced perfectly in the market, but none of that matters if we don’t have a positive experience driving it. Yet, that’s exactly what we do in our creative work, we create a wonderful brochure or ad or logo, say all the right things and expect the audience to take our word for it. The problem is, we haven’t created an experience for that audience, and it’s experience that changes behavior.
There are two types of experience we should be looking to create as we generate ideas (if we want those ideas to go all hairy and monstrous):
The Original Mashup: Brand Experience
A healthy brand experience effectively mashes together the value propositions of the product or service with the character of the brand itself. If either are inauthentic to the audience, the experience is nullified. Apple has created a natural brand experience with their retail environments. When you walk into an Apple store, both the products and the culture of the store reflect a lifestyle Apple is selling to you. When we generate ideas for our clients, do we take into account brand character as part of the equation or do we strictly focus on the value propositions of the product or service?
Taking The Fight to Their Doorstep: Physical Experience
When we create ideas, we often focus on getting the audience to come to us—when they do, we hit them with our idea; brochures that sit on counters, websites that wait for visitors, ads that vie for attention between shows. What if our ideas didn’t wait to be played with but instead, actively and authentically sought out the audience where they are most apt to have an authentic exchange? What physical experience can we create, with our audience, that proves what we say? Instead of just a brochure, can we create an event—something people would experience and remember, something that proves brand character? L’Oréal did this in 2010 when they created digital “mirrors” in stores, kiosks that allowed people to try on make-up digitally to see if they liked the color or shade before committing to the purchase.
Experience takes time and energy to create, but the result is worth it. Use our own behavior as a guide: what brands do you “bond” with? Are you an Apple person? Do you drive a Jeep? Do you ‘get’ Nike? Will you drive out of your way to find a Starbucks? These brands have all created an experience, and I’m betting there’s a brand out there with which you have had an experience that still alters your behavior. Monster ideas typically do.
What would touch you more: a well-designed postcard advertising the London Sea-Life Aquarium that dropped out of your newspaper or a salt-water-sprayed temporary stencil you encountered multiple times along your walk down the street?
Images courtesy of Stefan Mumaw
1. Take the time to discover the brand character of your client, and let that brand character become a catalyst for your ideas.
2. Mix the value propositions of the product or service you are communicating with the brand character to generate ideas that not only communicate but resonate with the audience.
3. Generate ideas that get off the couch and get into the fight by meeting the audience with a physical experience that authentically proves the character of the brand or the value of the product or service.
1. Read all about the 7 characteristics of monster ideas in Stefan Mumaw’s book Chasing the Monster Idea: The Marketer’s Almanac for Predicting Idea Epicness.
2. Check out a great example of experience by Domino’s Pizza in Amsterdam with their Delivery Points campaign called “Man Hungry”
3. Read about the ultimate in experiential marketing in Jay Conrad Levinson’s seminal book Guerilla Marketing.