Do You Know What Your Brand Sounds Like?

Today’s new must have – sonic branding – was born out of necessity almost one hundred years ago.

In the 1920s, nascent radio networks needed a way to alert engineers at affiliates across the United States when a new program was starting. These early attempts at switching over of the broadcast weren’t the most elegant transitions, often creating jarring audible clicks and pops. The industry adapted quickly, creating short musical sequences that hid the unwanted sounds while also signaling the beginning of a new program; a win-win for the broadcaster and the audience. The pioneering National Broadcasting Company (NBC) eventually settled on a 3-note sequence: G, E, then C. Through the rise of television and OTT, through mergers, acquisitions and infinite changing public taste the NBC chime still plays today, one of oldest and most recognized examples of sonic branding.

The radio era also gave us jingles as an aural way for brands to differentiate. Finding a true earworm has never been easy, but when it hits —think, “Nationwide is on your side”, HBO’s static TV introduction, the roar of the MGM lion— they create an almost intuitive bond with a brand.

For a while it seemed that not only did video murder the radio star, it also put a knife in the idea of sound as a stand-alone medium. In the realm of everything old is new again, audio is back in the spotlight. People are once again listening. According to eMarketer, 77 million people in the U.S. listened to podcasts in 2019, and that number is expected to grow to 85 million, nearly 40% of the digital audio listening population, by 2023. And that represents just 40% of the digital audio listening population. Spotify has an estimated 75 million U.S. listeners; Amazon Music 43 million; Apple Music 37. The global pandemic has impacted listening as of late, though data suggests audiences are coming back and – for now – shorter content is drawing more attention.

But the above is all about listening. It’s passive. Today, technology requires brand-consumer interactions to be active; they are two-way conversations. Our smartphones all have personal assistants apps who do more than just answer search queries. Our mobile apps respond to our questions and provide utility through our connected cars, Internet of Things appliances and smart speakers – and the technology responds back to us.

In the one dimensional days when communication fed only from brand-to-consumer, marketers put a lot of weight on brand sound in connection to television commercials and radio spots. As the market changed, sound took a back seat to visual design. The perception was that brands were seen more than they were heard, so much more rigor and care was put into perfecting the brand’s look and feel was consistent, leaving sound in limited roles like jingles and spokespeople.

Today, sound is back in the forefront. How a brand sounds doesn’t merely deserve the level of attention and detail given to visual branding. It demands it.

Contemporary sonic branding is the art of developing and executing consistent audio design across all channels. It addresses the intersection between the passive way a brand is heard and the active participation of how a brand converses, creating one common aural experience

A modern, effective sonic branding strategy still utilizes the legacy ways brands used to think of passive sound. Mnemonics and jingles play and important role, but consumer habits compel marketers to think more broadly. Should a brand produce owned aural content like podcasts? What is the role of sound through the entire consumer engagement journey? Is there an an opportunity for transaction or point-of-sale sound?

Brand conversations are the true test of whether or not a sonic branding strategy is effective and robust enough for the the current world. The content of these interactions is still paramount, but so is the sound. When a customer is interacting with your brand via voice command, what kind of (literal) voice does your brand have? What type of inflection, tone, verbiage, and level of playfulness or seriousness is appropriate?

The presence of sound in our lives shows no sign of slowing down. That simple fact lays out a very complex challenge for brands. Presence is dependent upon aural experience. The quality of sonic branding strategy will determine the effectiveness of overall brand strategy. It’s that important.

Building a Sustainable Way of Working: Ogilvy on ‘Managed Remote Working’

The below foreward was written by Rory Sutherland. The full paper, Building a Sustainable Way of Working: Ogilvy on ‘Managed Remote Working’” was put together by the Ogilvy UK People Team and the Ogilvy Consulting Behavioral Science Practice, led respectively by Helen Matthews and Sam Tatam.

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David Ogilvy never wrote anything in the office. “Too many distractions,” he explained.

Eventually he even adopted the practice of working from home permanently. Admittedly the home was a 50-roomed 12th Century Chateau on the banks of the Vienne, but my point still stands: in an ideas business, location needn’t matter much. From deep in rural France, David continued to send forth a constant stream of wisdom and inspiration to offices all over the world. (Such was the volume of his correspondence that his local postman received a promotion and a brand new van from La Poste.)

As many of you know, and as my colleagues have found to their irritation, I have always thought we should work from home more. I think our work is highly bifurcated: our best ideas emerge either from high energy collaboration or from long, uninterrupted periods of relative isolation. Up until today, I always thought the ratio was too skewed towards the former “Too many distractions”. Now, for a few months at least, you will find it heavily skewed the other way.

In times like this, it is incumbent on us to make this work. It is essential that those of us who can work remotely do work remotely – leaving the public realm less crowded for those who need it more. The talent of the advertising industry lies in finding hidden strengths: in turning a weakness into a strength.

“Good things come to those who wait.” Or, in the words of Salman Rushdie before he inexplicably left Ogilvy to try to make it as a novelist: “Fresh Cream Cakes – Naughty but Nice”. We should do exactly the same with this damned bug. Turn it into a feature.

First of all, if you have an idea for anything – a slogan, a rule of thumb, an entertainment, an app, a design idea that might help, an inventive use of data – pass it to us. If it’s good enough, we’ll pass it to No. 10.

Secondly, do the same for your clients. As many have shown, this is an opportunity for brands to reveal their own best selves. If you can think of a way your client’s brand can shine, say it loud. Just because you are self-isolating doesn’t mean you have to be shy.

Third, do something for your colleagues. Keep in touch. Keep each others’ spirits up. If anyone has a problem, share it. Stay connected. Today we have had several brainstorms over Zoom. Is it as good or as fun as a face-to-face meeting? No, but it’s 90% as good.

If you need more tech, say so.

Fourth, do something for your neighbours. Join or a local networking site. Keep an eye out for anyone in distress. Finally do something yourself. Something you’ve been meaning to do for ages, but have never had the time to do. Write. Lose weight (my own personal goal).

Read Proust. Learn Spanish. You’ll never have this chance again.

It will be grim. But it isn’t all bad. When this is over, we can build a better, saner commercial world and a finer society. We are hardly an anti-capitalist business: but most of us I think have had the inkling that, for the last decade or so, business and government priorities have been over-optimised along the wrong lines. This is an opportunity for everyone to start afresh with something better.

And take a shower. No, we can’t smell you, but you can smell yourself. A bit of self-respect never hurts. Then, when you’ve done that, read the following pages for more inspiration.

Click here to read the full paper, “Building a Sustainable Way of Working: Ogilvy on ‘Managed Remote Working’”.

Making brands matter in turbulent times: How to steer brands through a crisis. Beyond COVID-19

The past weeks have been filled with extraordinary challenges. But what we know for sure is that the crisis will eventually pass. Ogilvy has been working with its clients on the short term challenges but also reviewing potential learnings from past events such as SARS to explore how some brands found ways to rebound stronger, how new business models were shaped during crisis and how bold moves and timely investment enabled winning brands to gain disproportionate share. We believe, and history supports this, that agile and competitively-minded brands that get it right in the tough times, can capture competitive share and be best-placed to capitalise on the eventual rebound and beyond.


Five Social And Marketing Trends

Trend 1 – The Rise of Social Commerce

With consumers demanding a more seamless and cohesive buying journey, brands are integrating new commerce options into their marketing mix. As a result, social media is shifting from merely being an inspiration or education channel to a full storefront experience.

Creative content will take a front seat as social commerce features become increasingly popular. It is more important than ever to add value and put customer experience first through content which leads to purchase in a natural, non-invasive way.

Social channels are helping power full omni-channel experiences as companies are finding ways to link up every stage of the customer journey meaning how people interact on social can now play a role in the in-store experience as well.

Brands now blurring real world and virtual spaces through technologies like augmented reality meaning consumers can get full brand experiences wherever they are in the world

What’s going to happen next?

    • The platform’s walled ecosystems will get even higher as social content becomes shoppable microsites. This could lead to the proliferation of ‘dark websites’ (similar to ‘dark restaurants’) that are just a warehouse of items available for purchase through APIs.
    • There will be a boom in influencer affiliate marketing through social as their sales figures become more trackable and transparent.
  • Fueled by improvements in augmented reality and camera detection technologies the distance between inspiration and purchase will continue to shorten upending the path to purchase funnel. Everything we see will be instantly shoppable both on and offline wherever we are in the world.
  • Personalized marketing will get more personal as social media platforms track previous purchases and begin to recommend the perfect accompaniments.
  • Social platform’s digital wallets will open the internet up to the ‘unbanked’.

Trend 2 – Grown-up Influence 

Users have had enough of staged morning routines and transactional endorsements. Influencer culture isn’t ‘niche’ anymore and the authenticity of ‘influencers’ is being called into question. In 2019, we saw the rise of ‘shitposting’, a documentary about the Fyre Festival, the rise of ‘vlogpologies’, as well as audiences starting to fight back by calling out faked and photoshopped content. If we analyse influencer marketing through the lens of the Gartner Hype Cycle, it appears that influencer marketing has reached the Trough of Disillusionment. To help get to the Plateau of Productivity brands need to work with influencers to ensure there’s a clear value exchange for both the influencers and their followers.

Influencers, like brands are starting to become more purpose driven. This has led to the rise of a new niche of influencer called ‘Good Influencers’ who are looking to help their followers be better or do good. In fact, one in five UK teenagers are now using “Study Tubers” to help them revise for their GCSEs.

Brands are starting to experiment with virtual influencers (influencers who are not actually human), as a new way to reach specific audiences. This is part of the wider trend of people finding new ways to express their true selves online. The trend works particularly well for brands because the influencers are lower risk than human influencers and can work round the clock.

What’s going to happen next?

    • Advancements in CGI and AI technology will allow brands to embrace the weird and wonderful world of virtual influencers through branded storytelling.
    • Influence will become more closely associated with purpose through the rise of ‘good influencers’
  • Whilst Instagram will remain the preferred platform for influencer marketing, platforms like TikTok will go mainstream with more brands using the platform and its influencers.
  • Brands will realise that they have influencers within their walls that they have yet to discover leading to new influencer employee advocacy programs.
  • Whilst video in all its forms (Live, IGTV, YouTube, etc) will continue to grow, audio enabled influencer content like podcasts will become the powerful medium in a marketer’s toolkit.

Trend 3 – Regaining Control

Data privacy concerns, combating disinformation and a rising awareness of mental health has led to users to take more control of their social media usage. Consumers are starting to lock down their accounts and explore new closed communities. The knock-on effect for brands has been equally as stark as they respond to new regulations like GDPR and are required to re-examine their paid media strategies due to reduced retargeting capabilities.

As a result, people have started exploring alternative social networks like Minds, MeWe, Telegram and WT: Social. All of these social networks have been built of the back of current users concerns so prioritise user privacy, anonymity, or public contribution to the code base. Traditional social networks have started to up their game in response.

The number of fact-checking outlets around the world has grown to 188 in more than 60 countries amid concerns about the spread of misinformation. While politics has been a major driver, many outlets are also concentrating on viral hoaxes or other forms of misinformation such as fake health claims. Interestingly, the fact-checkers are starting to deploy more in-depth social media strategies to ensure their content gets shared more widely rather than just referenced.

What’s going to happen next?

    • Engagement rates will continue fall as more conversations and sharing shifts to private social networks. As a result the measures for what success looks likes will need to change.
    • Amidst privacy concerns (and potentially new regulations) social media targeting will become less personalised and CPMs will increase as there more competition for inventory.
  • There will be a rebirth of human curated, fact checked, slow content.
  • New privacy first social networks will start to gain traction, but most if not all will fail as the major networks copy their key USPs.
  • Consumers will start demanding direct control of their data, becoming gatekeepers of their own digital lives, so they can start to design and control their own digital ecosystem to servers up content based on how they’ve set their personal algorithms.

Trend 4 – The Democratisation of  

‘How to best utilise AI?’ is quickly becoming a key question for business so it’s of little surprise that it could have a huge impact on the marketing department as well as agencies. One of the most exciting areas of AI is how it can be used to bolster humanity creativity. AI is already being used to power customer experience through chat bots, but it’s quickly expanding into other areas such as video and copy creation.

While AI has the potential to make a huge positive impact, there are also real concerns around its misuse. Brands and agencies will need to tread very carefully when using AI to avoid creating even more distrust and disillusionment amongst consumers.

One of the biggest areas of contention at the moment is ‘deepfakes’. Deepfakes are where a person in a video is replaced with someone else’s likeness using AI neural networks. The potential negative connotations are clear, as it will become even more difficult to assess if a video is real or not, but the technology isn’t inherently bad. Agencies and companies are also using similar technology to translate speak more naturally to a different language than it was originally captured in. This could create massive efficiencies for brands and agencies looking to create global assets from the same master file. What remains to be seen is how accepting consumers will be of clearly altered videos.

AI copywriting is still in its infancy be there’s help scope for development for brands and agencies. The biggest benefit will likely come the ability to input one or two source lines of copy which will allow the AI to create the variations needed to create more personalised experiences for consumers. It will also help challenge the accidental preconceived notations we have about our target audiences the usage of big data will be able to determine what consumers are actually interested in.

What’s going to happen next?

    • Organizations will need new, systematic approaches for unlocking the full potential of human collaboration with AI. People will soon need to learn how to work with the machines and how to better communicate with them.
    • Big data will unlock previously incomprehensible insights for brands meaning they can narrow the gap between what brands think consumers want and what they actually want.
  • First touch customers service will become increasingly automated and most consumers won’t be able to tell the difference. Humans will only become involved in outlier cases.
  • AI will become a go-to resource for iterative creative executions especially if multiple languages are involved. Programmatic media buying solutions will port into social content as turnkey SAAS solutions for personalised messaging campaigns.
  • People will begin to demand proof of digital provenance in the content they’re consuming.

Trend 5 – The Evolution of Content

People are consuming more content than ever before. In fact, we spend more than 142 minutes just on social media a day. As people’s content consumption continues to rise, they are finding new ways to engage with content throughout their lives. Last year saw the explosion of new content types such as podcast and longer form video content. Most importantly, total brand immersion through experiences and technology are becoming mainstream.

Brands are taking adventure of new technologies to create longer, more interactive story telling experiences. Currently these experiences are coming to life as ‘choose your own adventures’ with a set amount of outcomes but that will likely continue to evolve to full-fledged experiences that are unique to every individual.

While overall attention spans appear to be getting shorter, people are showing that they are willing view longer content if it captures there attention. This change isn’t just being seen in video content as audio, in particular podcast listening has exploded. The rise in podcasts offers an exciting new space for marketers to explore. According to Ofcom, 7.1 million people in the UK listen to podcasts each week and this is predicted to increase by 20% each year.

What’s going to happen next?

  • Audio and voice will becoming an increasingly important part of the marketing mix as brands explore audio driven content narratives.
  • Interactive storytelling will unlock more personalized content experiences based on user choices. The opt-in nature of the experience will lead a greater acceptance of future personalized content from the brand.
  • Immersive content will blur the lines between offline and online allowing brands to increase engagement and build affinity through interactive experiences.
  • Event driven cultural moments will become integrated viewing experiences that see audience participation on a level playing field with the content itself.

Shelly Lazarus: In the Digital World, Brands Are More Important Than Ever

Shelly Lazarus: In the Digital World, Brands Are More Important Than Ever

This article first appeared in the INTA Bulletin and was reprinted with permission from the International Trademark Association.

Shelly Lazarus, Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy, has spent years spearheading campaigns and championing the many brands she has represented. She has been named one of the world’s most powerful women in business numerous times by such publications as Forbes and Fortune. Here, Ms. Lazarus shares insight on her career, the world of advertising, and what it means to build value for brands with the International Trademark Association (INTA). She will be the featured speaker at the Association’s 2019 Leadership Meeting, which will take place November 19–22, in Austin, Texas, USA.


What inspired you to pursue a career in advertising?

This is a particularly pivotal question for me because my whole career has been driven by the fact that I fell in love with a discipline and an industry—and everything else happened because of that.

I went to college at a time when women didn’t really have careers very much in business. And I was invited to attend a half-day seminar given by Advertising Women of New York about careers in advertising. It had never occurred to me that there was any sort of an art or science behind advertising! So I went to the four-hour session and I was completely mesmerized. I loved the idea that when you see an advertisement there’s a strategy behind it, and that there is a set of assumptions about what people think and what you’re trying to get them to believe. I was a psychology major, so the whole idea of stimulus and response was something I found absolutely fascinating. So I was in love.

I entered Columbia Business school about five days after I graduated from college—and once again, I fell in love with marketing and advertising. You had to take required courses, and when I took my first marketing course, I loved that too.

When I graduated and took my first job, I was on the client side working for Clairol. Once again, I found I just loved it. One day, I got a call from a headhunter saying that Ogilvy was looking for an account person who knew something about hair, as they had a shampoo brand that was being launched. I thought I’d stay for a few years, and then I’d leave and do something else. And I never left.

I fell in love with the art and science of it at the beginning. I found it to be a great intellectual puzzle. But what I also discovered when I got to the agency was the amazing, brilliant, and creative people. It was all about words and music, and film and pictures. I was surrounded by people who thought about solving problems in ways that never occurred to me. It never felt like work to me. It was just fun. It was fun to think with them; and to bring clients ideas and say, “I think we’ve solved it.”

In what ways do you see yourself as a role model for women in today’s business world?

I never considered myself a role model. That’s something that happens here and there along the way. I think what I did show women was that you can fit into your life everything that you love.

I was never afraid to let people know what my priorities were. I would sometimes see women sneaking out to the school play or the teacher conference, or the pediatrician appointment. I always walked straight down the center of the office. I was just doing what I needed to do. And the truth is, all these years later, there was not one time in my whole career when anybody questioned where I was going or how I was spending my time. I just got it done. If there is anything I would tell women, it would be that. Set your priorities. Don’t hide them. Live them. And then deliver beyond what anybody expects.

It’s also about making good choices. You have to figure out what you’re not going to do. You have to decide what’s not important so you can get rid of all the stuff that gets in the way and you can focus on things that are important.

Research suggests that today’s young consumers expect brands to stand for something. If so, what advice would you give to a brand looking to assume this responsibility?

I do think that brands are more important than ever. I was in a meeting the other day when someone stood up and said, “Brands have much less meaning now in a digital world.” I would disagree. I think brands are infinitely more important as we experience things digitally, and online; it becomes increasingly important.

With so much choice and availability, it becomes increasingly important that brands define themselves in a way that lets people make choices based on what they know about these brands. When you have a sea of 100 choices, there’s almost no way to edit, or to arrive at a group of things that you want to consider, without brands. So I think brands are more important than ever!

In terms of young people, I think they are much more attuned, and want to know who the good guys and the bad guys are, and they will make these judgements. So it’s no longer just about the functionality of a product or service. It has more to do with the values, the ethics, and the points of view of the makers of those products and services. And if you don’t share them with those audiences, they will deduce them without you. And these judgments won’t necessarily be correctly based on fact. But they will make those judgments. So it behooves anyone who’s talking to younger audiences to make sure that their audiences know and understand the company’s values, beliefs, ethos, points of view, and the role of the company in society. All of these things are increasingly important.

I like to quote Jeremy Bullmore, who was the creative director of J. Walter Thompson, who said, “People build brands the way birds build nests—from scraps and straws they chance upon.” So every little bit adds up to what the brand is. And people are paying more and more attention to those societal bits. And the younger you are, the bigger the impact. Young people will not accept the idea that you have to accept things as they are. They want to change things for the better.

In what ways are issues relating to intellectual property (IP) and trademarks relevant to the work you do, and to Ogilvy? Have you seen this change over time?

I think these issues are a corollary of the increasing importance and value of brands. I believe that a brand is the single most valuable asset that any organization has. There is nothing that comes close to it. So you have to pay increased attention to protecting it.

I always say the CEO must protect the brand. That is his or her responsibility. At the end of the day, the CEO has to be the brand owner and he or she has to be the protector. And so much of IP and trademarking has to do with that protection.

As I mentioned earlier, people are paying attention to the actions of a company. If other actors take your IP and start to suggest that they have some connection to your brand—but you have no control over their actions or their ethics—you are all of a sudden in a heap of trouble as an organization. I think this has become more intense over time, and that people today see how significant this is.

The other thing that’s changed enormously is that we now can see everything immediately. With today’s technology, if someone is encroaching on a brand’s equity in another country we can see it right away. So the work that IP professionals are engaged in is more important than ever and will be more so increasingly as time goes on.

What advice would you give to young professionals entering the world of brands and advertising today?

You need to understand how important brands are, and how far-reaching. I think there are too many people who equate brands with advertising. That’s much too narrow. The truth is that everything you do affects the brand (hopefully, in a positive way).

I love to talk to people who are doing startups, because you can, and should, use a brand as an organizing principle. When you’re founding a company and you’re starting out, you have a point of view about what you’re bringing to the world. That impacts who you hire, the space you take, your website, the way you answer the telephone, who you choose as your customers, who your partners are—every little bit of that adds up to the brand. And anyone who wants to work in this area has to understand how far-reaching the concept of a brand is.

There are some businesses that understand this brilliantly. For example, I love to go into a W Hotel. Everything they have is branded. Down to the little coasters under the glasses. Or the Virgin Atlantic lounge in the airport, where everything has a distinct quality. These are instances where you see such a profound understanding of brand, and such a broad application of it. That’s when it becomes so powerful. And if you’re going to play this game, that’s the way you should play it.

How do you foresee the profession changing over the next decade?

The core stays the same. There are so many different ways of communicating now, and ways of getting out your point of view and sharing it and building it and modifying it. So the means of dissemination has changed dramatically. But the core, which is finding the essence, the DNA of a brand, understanding what drives it, what differentiates it, what makes it unique—that is more important than ever.

I hear people continuously talking about technology. Sure it’s great, because once you get a great idea, there are a thousand ways you can disseminate it. There are a thousand ways to share it. But if you don’t have an idea in the first place, it doesn’t matter how many ways there are to send it out. So I think the essence of what we do, the value of an idea, I think that will never change.

Making Brands Matter for the Generations to Come

Making Brands Matter for the Generations to Come


Sustainable Enough is Not Good Enough. While the youth of today continue to be catalysts in the drive toward environmental action, brands have been busy getting involved in environmental and other social good issues through ongoing or sporadic corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.

Making Brands Matter for the Generations to Come intends to help brands understand how they can help make the world, and their business, better faster by intentionally making CSR efforts grounded in their brand’s core.

Leveraging frameworks and data from experts in the field, academia, as well as by observing over a dozen brands, this paper tells the story of the origins of CSR, the evolution of consumers in their demand for sustainable goods and services, and brands’ pitfalls and success stories in executing CSR activities.

From Conspicuous Consumption through to modern day Conscious Consumption, this paper examines how consumers have shifted over the years which has driven brands to embark on CSR in different ways. From one-off projects through to business models built on circular design, brands have been active participants in CSR but there’s still a long way to go.

The paper closes with key actions brands can take to expediently make CSR a genuine and authentic component of their brand’s core going forward.

Key takeaways from the paper:

  • Brands are dabbling in CSR across a spectrum – from one-off initiatives, to those who have managed to become fully purpose driven ecosystems
  • There’s a price tag that often comes with sustainability – the future state of conscious consumption is when sustainable products are affordable and attainable across spending power
  • A brand’s core embodies a brand’s purpose, positioning, and action plans – any and all CSR initiatives need to stem from this core and be felt internally as well as externally
  • There’s an abundance of sustainable activity happening in the world today – brands that matter will take a hard look in mirror and spend the time to intentionally align their CSR activities to their brand’s core

to brand or not to brand

To Brand or Not To Brand: From Symbols and Stories to Systems

to brand or not to brand

To Brand or Not To Brand: From Symbols and Stories to Systems


The marketing industry is in the midst of a period of change that is both absolutely terrifying and very exciting.

Faster, more intuitive technology is creating increasingly high expectations. People demand more control and transactional power from their personal data, which changes their notion of being a consumer.

Today there are more channels, more choice, more speed, more confusion, more noise — and less signal. In this fractured, fast-as-the-speed-of-an-algorithm environment, it’s fair to ask:

To Brand or Not To Brand?

Here’s a truth: many in our industry don’t quite understand brands. Some think that “brand” and “product” are different. Or that brand is a layer of communications. But that is the stuff of blowhard manifestos or “anthem” films. Too high-minded to sell anything, too lofty to be useful. To make brands more valuable to people and people more valuable to brands, we need to know how the concept of branding evolved and what role in the modern marketplace it holds.

Marketers forget that their trade stems from the practice of livestock branding, the act of marking an animal to signify ownership. But how did we come to adopt this method in the commercial world?

Simply put, the need for branding is a matter of choice and consistency. As many objects of the same ilk emerge, the only way to distinguish between alternatives is by adding a distinct mark. When cattle look the same, we add burn-marks, tattoos, or tags. When wine glasses at a holiday party look the same, we (rather unfortunately) add tacky stem charms depicting Frosty the Snowman, or worse. Whatever the added ‘brand’ may be, it serves as a shortcut. It communicates a wealth of information in a single glance. So it goes with commercial products and services too; brands help consumers navigate the paradox of choice.

The evolution of branding is a by-product of the intersection of culture and commerce. As the marketplace evolves, so must brands evolve to satisfy ever-changing consumer needs and wants. As much as brands and companies may wish it to be otherwise, brand is a reaction to consumer culture – not the reverse. Not convinced? In this paper, we will explore the evolution of branding as it follows a socio-economic timeline. This will demonstrate how major historical events and technological advancements demanded that brands continuously alter, adapt, and modify the way they interact with consumers.

Click here to read the full paper, “To Brand or Not To Brand”.

Why Branding Should Not Be Left Only to Brand Ads

Why Branding Should Not Be Left Only to Brand Ads

By Tim Burke, Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director at Eicoff

A sure sign of a strong brand is its ability to shine in any medium. Display. Print. Audio. Video. Blimp-vertising. A solid brand should adapt to its new environment while still maintaining the core look, tone and personality that it has spent a lot time (and likely $$$) to build.

The same idea applies when the objective of your ad changes. When you bring in a more response-minded goal, or the notion of “driving sales” to your advertising, it’s very common to hear:

“But… what about the brand?”

It’s a fair question. And an important one to ask. The reality is you don’t have to ditch the spirit or feel of your brand when striving for more actionable creative. You just have to be smart about how you incorporate it. One popular tactic is simply tacking a call-to-action to the end of the current brand TV commercial. While this move won’t hurt your branding, it likely won’t generate the results you want, either. Creating an ad that motivates a response needs a grander transformation.

So, here are a few thoughts on how to carry your branding over into your response-oriented creative:

Watch your tone
While every brand voice and tone might not transition perfectly into direct response, most will be just fine. Don’t go changing. Instead, focus on the distinct aspects of your brand voice and infuse that into your direct creative. For example, if your brand is humble by nature, don’t start acting all cocky in your direct response creative. Humble will work wonderfully in the new environment. If your brand voice believes in simplicity, don’t get too technical in your DR work. Instead, work hard to explain things with brevity and clarity. A consistent tone can help distinguish your brand at every point of consumer contact.

Embrace your look
From your typeface to the types of faces you portray, there are countless ways to bridge your brand identity across your many media placements. One of the easiest connectors is through graphic design. If your brand guideline doesn’t have a design toolkit, create one. Build graphic elements that help your brand stand out from the crowd and distinguish itself – everywhere. Think about colors, patterns, any icons, sizing, caps, no caps, initial caps. You get the idea. Also, it helps to take these elements on a test drive. See how well they work with different media or platforms before you launch them into the real world.

Cue the audio
TV, digital video or radio all present the opportunity to build branding via audio. In some cases, a brand voiceover may carry over seamlessly into direct response. Other times, the talent may be totally wrong. Either way, evaluate and decide. If it works, you’ve got another brand connector. Music is similar. In brand advertising, music often can become the main takeaway from a spot. “I love the song!” In the direct world, music is vital to helping foster emotion and pacing, but it must be secondary to the message. If your brand embraces a certain music genre – country, urban, pop, cowbell-only rock – that can be a great way to create consistency, too. And lastly, an audio mnemonic (also known as an earworm) is a simple tactic to help with brand separation and recall. However, just like a design element, strive to have an audio mnemonic that can live across different types of content. For example, if your mnemonic is incredibly goofy sounding, it likely won’t work in a video that is highly emotional.

A strong brand should always be designed with a level of strictness (don’t go there!) and flexibility (let’s bend the rules a little). And whatever the goal – awareness, promotion, leads, sales – of your specific ad, it should always be seen as an opportunity to advance the brand. Believe it or not, a strong-selling, product-focused, offer-driven TV spot can still very much appeal to one’s eyes, ears and heart.

Add some magic to your customer experience

Add some magic to your customer experience

By David Hofmeyr, Strategy Partner at Ogilvy UK

“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

These lines are from the last page of The Minpins, a book published in 1991, a few months after Dahl’s death. The book is the author’s final contribution to an astonishing literary career. Roald Dahl, the beloved author of children’s books, was a subversive genius. His gift? An uncanny ability to make kids feel that here was someone who truly understood them.

At least, that’s the way it was for me.

Whacky, batty and barmy, his stories held me in thrall when I was a boy. Without James and the Giant Peach, The B.F.G., Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, Matilda, Danny the Champion of the World and so many others, I’m not sure I’d be the person I am today. His words transported me, made me laugh, left me breathless for more. They gave me an enduring love of reading and writing. But their true wonder, was that they made me feel as if he knew me. This giant of a man, in his English writing hut, understood me – a boy in South Africa, thousands of miles away.

I think the reason he connected with me, was able to carry me away – beyond his obvious genius – is that he was innately curious. Dahl was able to look at the world, really look at it, and see the ordinary, everyday things that make life magical and absurd.

This ability – to absorb the world around us, to see and listen, and find inspiration – is the essence of how we begin the process of creating memorable and compelling customer experiences.

A book is perhaps the simplest example of a customer experience. We draw it out the shelf and we begin to page through, wondering what adventures lie ahead. And, if the author is skilled, we find ourselves absorbed, utterly compelled to turn the page. Why?

Because stories, from Beowulf to The B.F.G, are deeply-rooted in our psychology and our DNA. Neuroscientists claim emotion is the fastest path to the brain and that stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone. That’s because the brain releases dopamine when it experiences an emotionally-charged event, making it easier to remember.

Stories are powerful because they speak to us directly, on an emotional level. They make us feel less alone in the world. As if our needs, desires and fears are completely understood.

This doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by design. Creating an emotional connection with someone requires listening and looking and learning. This is as true of writing a book as it is of creating compelling customer experiences for brands.

And it begins with the customer, not the brand.

It’s the same way all stories begin – with a hero in their ordinary world – like Charlie Bucket. Dahl, in showing us Charlie in his small house with his parents and four grandparents, tells us so much about him and his problem – wanting to rise up out of poverty.

Without a problem facing our hero, there is no story. It’s the same with brands. Unless brands can demonstrate they understand the one key problem their customers face, and offer to resolve it in surprising ways, they will make no lasting impact.

Brands must show they understand the problem their customer faces and then offer advice and expertise to resolve it, that no one else can. In story terms, who is the brand? Well, if the customer is Charlie Bucket, then the brand is Willy Wonka – the guide and mentor – offering credible, authentic and unique solutions to the problem the customer cares most about.

Where success is measured by engagement, and customer satisfaction, storytelling is not only an effective tool, it can be transformational. Re-energizing and re-wiring the way we think, plan and talk about brands. And it begins with the customer.

As a published author, a student of storytelling and a planner with over 20 years in advertising, I aspire to Roald Dahl’s idea of watching the world with glittering eyes. Because, it might well be the only way of really seeing things – and finding that magical insight.

After all, what’s a customer experience without magic?