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Brand and Campaign Development

Often confused by professionals as well as non-marketing people, we often stress brand development and campaign development are not the same thing. One is the foundation for the other.


When we talk about developing a brand, we're talking about a visual and verbal language that identifies and differentiates. This work is often rooted in a Brand Positioning Statement. Brand Positioning has been around since Trout and Reis coined the term decades ago to describe the multi-dimensional nature of brands, i.e. the fact that they go beyond physical attributes and include emotional ones. The positioning statement is a clear and concise description of what makes the brand interesting and useful to the end user. Beyond features that identify the brand, it may include ones with which consumers themselves identify. These are emotional. The Positioning Statement may also spell implications for the competition. Pepsi’s “New Generation” said as much about Coke as it did about Pepsi. In order to be effective, there are three essential criteria that every positioning should meet. It should be:

1) Organic to the brand, which make’s it believable.
2) Differentiating, which makes it competitive.
3) Relevant to the target audience, which makes it compelling.

In order to increase their usefulness, agencies often turn Positioning Statements into brand stories, called Brand Articulation Documents. This is really a mash-up combining core values with a look, feel, and language that engages the target audience. Aided by a unique graphic treatment, the Articulation is a longer format. It often becomes a mantra… a philosophy, outlook or brand POV on contemporary culture. It’s no surprise that the Articulation Document is commonly referred to as the Brand Bible. While the Brand Positioning is more internally focused, the Brand Articulation is designed to resonate with the external audience. But the importance of developing them both in conjunction can’t be understated:


When it comes to Campaign Development, the strongest ideas are those that go beyond communication. The aim at transformation. Communication has become synonymous with being clever. For years, the ad industry trained its young creative people and its clients to believe that clever ideas are good. Personally, I’d rather rethink the media channel. Or rethink the way consumers interact with the content. That doesn’t mean we're against ads that entertain. We just believe that these days, they have to do more than that.

Transformation is a different mindset.

Transforming ideas seek to bring about change, by challenging internal assumptions and external perceptions. Transforming ideas aren’t trying to be clever. They’re inherently creative… based on unique insights. It’s important to note that transforming ideas can occur in any stage of the marketing program: the messaging strategy, channel selection, creative execution or the design of the user experience.

An example of a transforming idea would be the program we did for Spartanburg, SC. It seems their industrial infrastructure was a bit rusty and in decay. Especially when compared to their newly-renovated, upscale neighbor, Greenville. But the city needed more than a clever campaign. You can’t simply tell citizens to be proud. There has to be something that warrants pride. Fortunately, the city’s abandoned infrastructure was providing inspiration for artists, performing artists, creative venues and businesses. A closer look at the brick skeletons… the old warehouses and factories… uncovered a thriving subculture. Instead of a campaign, they needed tools to build this community, share their passions and promote news and local events. was born.

It remains one of the most successful, digital community development projects of the last decade. Sponsored communities typically fail the moment sponsorship dollars stop. But we executed this differently. No rules from the city government. No logos from the chamber of commerce. No corporate content or graphics. Engaged community members were given the tools and resources to build their own portal for art and culture. Years later, the success (and financial contribution) of the online community was recognized by the city, which built the Hub-Cub center for the performing arts. How often do you see a movement go from the digital world to bricks and mortar? Today people from Greenville regularly drive to Spartanburg for art and entertainment. We avoided communication and focused on transformation.