SS24 brand campaign essentials
Strategy director, Caroline Whittaker, on fail-proof campaign essentials, making a big splash, and her timeless advice to all brands
Secret sauces, winning formulas, and special ingredients – these are the components of every effective brand campaign. Said no one.
But, according to Strategy Director at Continuous, Caroline Whittaker, going back to basics is the timeless trend guaranteed to turn heads and empty pockets season after season.
Caroline – who began her career in marketing at BAFTA in Los Angeles – has extensive experience straight-shooting strategic and creative direction with a diverse range of clients from Primark, Ideal Standard, Fever-Tree, Diageo, and PlayStation.
So, next time you're dressing your brand in a meaningful, customer-centric campaign, review it with our cheat sheet below.
01 – Plant the brain-worm.
With the likes of McDonalds and Coca-Cola flying the flag for always-on brand activity, being memorable and recognisable has never been more fashionable.
And with good reason too: not only does it help these players stay in the spotlight, but it keeps them front of mind in spaces they don't occupy.
Meaning we don't even need to see the full picture or experience them directly to think of them. The seed is planted.
Renowned for her big-picture thinking, Caroline confirms it's not just about having your fifteen minutes of fame: "With brand, you see the benefits in the long-term, not necessarily the short-term.
"So, when creating a great brand campaign, it has to be memorable. It's got to generate and lodge positive associations with the brand inside the minds of the consumers.
"Not a direct shout-out to go and do something immediately, but it has to give the consumer that mental availability and that sense of recall.
"It's about building memorable associations to create the 'brain worm' so when someone says 'Coca Cola' for example, you immediately think 'refreshing', or 'freedom', or 'happiness'."
02 – Give them the feels.
We've all been there, getting all choked up in the middle of your reality TV marathon because an insurance ad — yes, an insurance ad — somehow hit all the right buttons. What kind of wet-wipe are you? Our kind.
The reality is, we all love to feel those mushy feels and connect with something that makes us feel seen, heard and, better yet, cared for.
Caroline explains: "To be a memorable brand campaign – it has to be emotional. It's got to provoke quite a strong emotional reaction with the consumer because of the system 1 system 2 elements of the brain.
"Harnessing emotion in your campaign will solidify that longer-term connection with your consumer, helping with the recall of the brand beyond the duration of the campaign."
And there you have it, making people feel something, even if it's a cheeky chortle on the commute, will probably mean some post-dinner suddy sink conversation with their partner about grabbing that broadband deal. Romance eh?
03 – Sharing is caring.
Recall your brain and past toe-curls back to the days of Pepsi and Kendall Jenner saga, Balenciaga's BDSM Teddy Bears, or even more recently, BrewDog's 'World F*cup' and influencer Lydia Millen's trip to the Savoy thanks to broken heating during the energy crisis.
Shockvertising, misaligned values or a face-plant into inauthentic, cringe-worthy virtue signalling?
Marketers are swapping fleeting trend-led activity and limelight for lasting, purposeful ideas as they continue to battle it out for ever-increasing socially conscious consumers.
"It's important that you strive to be memorable and evoke emotion in your campaign in a way that feels truly authentic to your brand," says Caroline.
"It's not always about being controversial or making a big splash, it's about clearly communicating what your brand is really about and what your brand stands for in a way that builds a memorable, emotional connection.
"It's about sharing your brand values – not explicitly but with implications that, again, go back to the positive associations you want people to take away.
"Especially with younger generations like Gen-Z, we're seeing that need for value share between them and the brand, whereas, with previous generations, it's been more of a transactional relationship.
"Previously, potential consumers may question what the brand can do for them or what buying into the brand says about them on a more superficial level.
"Whereas now, there's a much deeper connection when it comes to that sharing of value – whether that's environmental, ethical, political, or other.
"With campaigns, there's no point in creating something that doesn't align with the values of your potential customers in a rich and authentic way.
"It has to be a real value share and your consumers will immediately see through the entire campaign – if not the entire brand – if it lacks authenticity."
04 – Make it personal.
A homemade cake is always better than a store-bought.
'Why the hell are we talking about cakes?' you may ask.
It's the effort, time and dedication to making something delicious just for you - clumpy bits and all.
Marketers could learn a thing or two from a sloppy cake analogy.
Yes, you can blow minds with a big budget, but you can bring more memorable wow moments with something just as thoughtful.
"On a commercial level, you also need to think about how scalable your campaign is.
"Traditionally, in the past, we've always seen brand campaigns as having a lot of money behind them and using high-cost channels like TV or big sponsorships at events.
"But now, it's more about how you scale it to the specific audience you're targeting. It's not necessarily that you need to solely use those traditional channels, it's more of a mix.
"It's about being clever with how you choose to target."
05 – Add a little bit of spice.
You show your mum a meme. They ask, 'Who's that, love?', it's a digital tale as old as, well, 2008. Content for content's sake is just that.
As Caroline explains: "Another really important element to think about when it comes to creating a great brand campaign is understanding the customer experience and how they use media.
"Before creating, stop and ask yourself what that journey point is? That's the key element.
"Do you have a real understanding of how your customers are experiencing and interacting with your brand? Do you understand that journey?
If you're not as strong as you'd like to be in this area, that's a great place to start."
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