“Communication is unlikely . . .

If you get what I’m saying.” -- Chairman Jimmy.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

My post from last week elicited several comments, which was heartening. On the other hand, most of these comments revealed my apparently total failure to communicate the point I was trying to make. I’m trying to view this as an instructive failure.

So where did I go so terribly wrong?

The first and main mistake I made was to assume a shared experience with you, the devoted readers of AFP. As it turns out, either many of you have in fact shared the experience to which I was referring, but I was so cryptic or unclear in alluding to or characterizing this experience that no one had the slightest idea what I was talking about.

Or, the experience I was talking about is not as common as I had assumed.

Or both.

Whichever the case, it has been a very humbling reminder of just how much more careful I need to be about taking into consideration who one’s readers are, what they do, where they’ve been, etc.

I guess the good news is that I’ve never experienced such a total miscommunication before.

Or have I? How would I know?

In any case, to set the record straight, let me try to at least clarify the phenomenon about which I devoted last week’s post.

In my experience, when I’ve gone into a meeting with a creative director, in which my art director partner and I are to present initial concepts for, let’s say, a print ad, sometimes the following takes place.

We show a rough layout, (Remember rough layouts? No? Yikes.), with some visual, a headline, and the client’s logo and tag down at the bottom somewhere.

In critiquing the concept, the CD often reaches into his quiver and pulls out some standard deflating arrow, like, “Um, I feel like I’ve seen this before” or something similar.

Another such arrow, the one about which my whole post was concerned, involves the CD saying, “I feel like if I removed our client’s logo and replaced it with a competitor’s logo, it would work just as well.” The point of this comment being that the concept isn’t distinctly reflective or expressive of our client’s brand voice or look or whatever. It’s too generic.

This arrow, like so many in the CD’s quiver, is totally unhelpful and, in my view, wrong-headed.
If it’s a great ad idea, who cares if a competitor could, hypothetically, have done the ad. The fact is, they haven’t, so it’s available for us to do it for our client.

So, unless the concept carries a particular competitor’s actual brand look, feel, voice, what’s the problem?

See, now my confidence has been so undermined that I feel like I’m still not making myself clear.

It seems as if some of the people who posted comments were mostly responding to the idea of showing a client’s competitor’s logo within the client’s ad, and the value/advisability/effectiveness of this ploy.

Which is a whole different topic, about which I’m not prepared to opine at the moment. Maybe once I get over my despair regarding this recent communication breakdown, I’ll be able to assemble a coherent thought regarding this issue.

39 comments:

Scamp said...

Good question. I might answer it by making the analogy with a person. Some people say funny or clever things. And some people say funny or clever things, but in a way that's totally imbued with their own personality. "Only Kevin could have said that!" That's what makes Kevin so memorable. And that's what we want for our brands. Tone of voice is probably more important than what is being said, and mustn't be neglected. Do you remember any headline from a brand like Innocent? No. But you know the brand inside-out.

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