Cracked Rubber by Grunge Textures at http://www.grungetextures.com

Cracked Rubber by Grunge Textures at http://www.grungetextures.com

Agencies advise brand management executives to find the one, simple, memorable brand-building idea and stick with it. They use a spider chart to demonstrate how to distribute the message across media channels and marketing disciplines. But it’s a media-centered, channel-specific approach. And for some categories it still works; by which I mean it moves the sales needle while increasing brand favorability.

The Corona beer campaign comes to mind. It’s a “brand world” with a seemingly endless supply of stories inherent in its creation. However, advertising campaigns bedevil marketing services professionals because — time and time again — the “idea” either doesn’t translate or doesn’t translate well into promotions, direct response and digital best practices. But why not?!

Advertising ideas are still created in a relative vacuum. Agency creative and account management directors pay little more than lip service to marketing services “partners.” I’m not here to complain about it. In fact, I’ve been among the agency management directors who has upheld the orthodoxy of this approach. But I’ve also been a guerilla in the trenches of the advertising version of urban warfare.

There’s a big change happening now. It’s slow but steady. And it’s called Elasticity.

Advertising and marketing ideas need elasticity in order to operate as social objects in the Consumer Decision Journey that pull consumers toward the brand. Once engaged by the brand’s content and applications — its useful and relevant social objects — consumers are primed to favor the brand at the moment and point of decision, which is still mostly at a retail store location.

The downside of elasticity is dilution. When a brand-building idea is opened to interpretation and stretched by the needs of competing advocates of marketing services disciplines — “This won’t work at shelf, that’s why we needed to change the color to blue … Coca-Cola …” (yes, I’m exaggerating) — its impact and effectiveness is quickly diluted. The singularity of a “truth, well told” brand idea should outlast time, place and temperament.

Nevertheless, people inhabit the world differently now. Digital networks have fundamentally changed how we discover “new news,” actively evaluate our options, share our thoughts with others and make the final, fateful decision to buy (or not).

Elasticity allows for best practices based on marketing disciplines to be reinterpreted based on the desired marketing outcomes sought within the context of how, when, where and what the consumer experiences in the Consumer Decision Journey. The purpose of an integrated campaign is to fulfill the greatest opportunity for the consumer to discovery the brand — via branded content and/or branding applications — throughout that journey.

The rigidity of attempting to push people through the linear, sequential marketing funnel required brand-building ideas to conform to a singular, inalterable interpretation. The very nature of the Consumer Decision Journey and the need for the magnetic pull of Social Objects in a media space that affords consumers plenty of cover from unwanted interruptions requires brand-building ideas to comply with the shifting sands of context throughout the path to purchase.

It’s like the old saying about rules: If treated like stalks of corn, they break when challenged by the winds of change. But if they bend like stalks of wheat, they thrive.


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