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What makes a good brand campaign?

tom lovegroveSuccessful brands don’t just sell a product, they sell an identity too. Read on as Tom Lovegrove from RPM reveals how to get into your customers’ imaginations as well as their wallets.

What is your role at RPM?

RPM is a creative marketing agency based in London.   The services we offer adapt according to every new campaign brief but our specialisms include brand and campaign planning, live brand experience and digital activation.  Amongst many others, our clients include Sky, Diageo, Nissan, GSK, E.ON and Marks and Spencer. 

I work as an Account Director on our campaigns for Sky. An Account Director’s role can be described as being the client’s day-to-day representative amongst the different departments within the agency. Ultimately we’re responsible for ensuring that the client’s ambitions for the brand campaign are effectively realised in the marketplace.

What inspired you to go into marketing?

I actually started out as an actor. During the lean times I found work with various marketing agencies. Part of my love of acting was my passion to participate in storytelling. As I became more involved in marketing I started to see parallels between my old and new job.  Marketing is, if nothing else, the art of telling stories about a brand. In fact I’ve recently written a short blog that explores this.

Why are brands important?

A brand is the identity that an organisation or product presents to the world.  It goes beyond just a logo.  It’s the values that the product or organization stands by. From a consumer’s perspective, brands are about personality. Who are you? What do you represent? How do I relate to you?

What makes a good brand? Can you give some examples?

Three things: clarity, endurance and the ability to evolve.  By clarity, I mean how easily and quickly I can understand who you are and what you represent.  Endurance is the ability to rise above all the noise in a media saturated world; for the brand to stands strong and last longer than the competition. As for the ability to evolve, I shouldn’t need to explain. Darwin’s done that!

There are many examples but two that always stand out for me are BMW and Apple.

When most people think of BMW, they think of quality and precision engineering and they have done for decades.  BMW have earned an enormous amount of trust and loyalty from their consumers.  This belief in quality is brand, not product, specific. It applies across their range from the entry level 1 series to the super luxury 7 series.

Apple has managed a unique trick.  They are seen as being anti-corporate, yet they are one of the most established and largest corporations in the world of technology. Their products are perceived as being beautifully engineered, individual, fun and brimming with personality and, best of all, they have an international army of advocates who are as passionate about the brand as Apple is.

What do you need to think about before beginning a brand campaign?

Number one: Who is your audience?  Who is most likely to buy your product or service?  Second: What are the values of the brand? What do you stand for and how will this relate to your audience. Finally:  How are you going to communicate to them in a way that will grab their attention?

What’s the most important thing for a good brand campaign?

Two things: Originality and Participation.

Originality. Easy to say, hard to do! It’s been said that there’s no such thing as an original idea anymore. Try approaching from a different angle to save time banging your head against a creative wall and take an existing idea then twist it and turn it to something never seen before. The next step is to communicate the idea. True originality is easier at this stage because new media is still in its infancy. Every day there are new and inspiring ways that the message can be delivered. 

Participation is a newer concept. Given the increasing dominance of both online and experiential activity as marketing tools, participation has become integral to judging the success of a campaign. There are myriad new online and experiential marketing tools that mean consumers can now interact directly with brands. Interactive brand engagement gives the consumer a voice and the right to express their opinion about what that brand represents.  When brands listen, acknowledge and adapt to the feedback, then not only does the brand identity evolve to fit the market, but it will also recruit people who will spread the word on the brand’s behalf.  Win-win!

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different marketing methods?

  • Online

Online activation is probably the most important campaign tool available to a brand. It enables consumer participation and instant feedback from the consumer.  It’s adaptable and can be tailored to grab the attention of your specific audience. Utilised imaginatively it can generate word of mouth where the consumer becomes the brand’s best advocate.

  • Print, TV, Radio, Billboards

These are all representative of Above the Line (ATL) marketing, or campaigns directed at a mass audience. They are all vital tools to raise awareness of a brand and still dominate the marketing budgets of big brands because they do this so successfully. Used effectively they can reach vast numbers of people. It is, however, a ‘scatter gun’ approach. This means there is limited ability to discriminate who views the ad. Inevitably a substantial proportion will not necessarily be the target audience.  ATL is also an expensive and a passive experience, because the audience experiences the ad but not the brand or product itself. More and more ATL campaigns are now integrated with Below the Line (BTL) campaigns that utilize more direct interaction with the brand. This is known as Through the Line or TTL.

  • Live or experiential

When executed well, experiential marketing is one of the most effective ways to give the consumer a direct interactive experience of a brand, which can lead to deeper brand advocacy. It also allows specific targeting of a brand’s core consumer, but it can be expensive from a ‘cost per contact’ perspective

  • Guerrilla or ambient

This is another form of experiential and, in isolation, is useful if the execution of the idea is big enough to gain media attention. If it’s done right, it can be a cost effective tool to add PR value to a campaign.

Ultimately though, word of mouth is the goal all brands should be aiming for.  A campaign or brand identity so compelling that it gets people talking creates evangelists for the brand

What’s the biggest challenge in a brand campaign?

Standing out from the crowd.  The modern consumer’s attention is divided across multiple media and their attention is getting harder to attract.  They’re new media-savvy, have seen every idea under the sun and demand more from brands than a mission statement.  They want truth and will sniff out and expose any hint of dishonesty in a heartbeat.

What skills do people need to be successful in brand marketing?

Creativity, Flexibility and Discipline.  Creativity is having an open heart and an open mind. Flexibility is the ability to change your mind and direction to suit shifting circumstances. Discipline is the ability to focus on what works, edit out what doesn’t and remain committed to the end.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Absorb everything around you. Listen more, speak less and remember that inspiration can come from anywhere. Spend more nights going out than staying in. Visit galleries, read books, watch TV, listen to the radio, surf the internet and look out for what’s new and what the world’s excited by. It’s what everyone else is doing so you need to be a leader. Finally never be afraid to ask for help. In my experience most people will willingly give their time to support another’s passion.

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