Last week Derek sent me a link to an AdAge article about consulting companies like Deloitte entering the industry, armed with data, determined to compete with math. Hiring someone to run numbers for you is a great idea, and can provide insight into who cares about your organization. Consultants are a great lens to view a given marketplace through, but that perspective doesn’t matter much without execution.
Accurate research can certainly inform your message, targeting individual segments. The AdAge article seems to take for granted that concepts will simply present themselves when the numbers have been crunched. I think there’s a lot of daylight between agencies on this point.
Rock-solid data doesn’t guarantee that the needle will move, as referenced by this article on Millennial preferences online. Campaigns need to have staying power, based on the research that digital advertising isn’t a transactional experience, it’s often a long-game. We’re all looking for something to share, an affirmation, or a way to define what is important.
When it comes to communication, the best ideas win. Concepts that make people consider a point, 30-second football spots that are so well done that they bring people to tears…these are what we talk about. Comedy, whether it’s slapstick or storytelling, unites a room with a laugh—and builds the rapport that we’re all in search of.
> Audience reaction, applause.
Someone wrote that joke or choreographed a pratfall, and it’s that work that’s easily overlooked or overpowered by big data. Ideas are subjective and therefore their effectiveness isn’t easily quantified. Having said that, everyone seems to recognize a good one.
This is all terribly self-serving, a blog post about the importance of creativity on an agency website. Probably a bunch of graphic design snobs in love with their own ideas.
There are other ways that we tackle a problem that have little to do with design. Decisions we make, as a group, to determine what the best course of action will be. Ultimately there is a visual component, but there are a lot of decisions (based on data) that inform what the best course of action will be. Here are six different approaches that we stand by.
1. Customized Messaging.
Create something unique and specific to an audience that reinforces a brand, even on a local level. Don’t rely on stock content, which can be terrible to begin with. What makes you different? Does a free typeface or a system font really work to communicate that?
^ The crew at Hunter Mountain are creating a 70’s skateboard-themed event at Empire Parks. Inspiration came in the form of Steely Dan tracks with a sprinkle of Hall & Oats. We named the event for the locale, and for the competitors—who will be judged on style points.
It’s very specific, it won’t work for another mountain, and that’s the point.
Keep things familiar at each brand touchpoint with the public.
^ Big Slide Brewery & Public House contracted Trampoline to create a logo for the restaurant, some help with an exterior sign design, and a sticker. I wish they’d used us for more, but the reality is that we provided a flexible system of artwork that they’ve been able to use in their own executions from neon to socks. They have stayed true to the artwork, and have built a successful suite of repeat impressions.
3. Positioning, relation.
Aligning your brand with similar, successful entities. This falls into the category of Use What You Have.
^ Peak Resorts knows (data) that the strongest brand in their northeast portfolio of properties is Carinthia. The size and features available, content in its own right, puts the terrain park at the top of the list for skiers and riders in the east. Our strategy was to build on that brand equity and extend the imagery and color palette—black on black on black—to other mountains. The decision was a communication response to Peak’s assessment that terrain was the area that represented the most growth from a strategy standpoint. There was no need to reinvent the wheel, and ultimately it was an image pivot that embraced existing success.
Classic less-is-more. Be selective and segment messaging.
^ How quickly can you make a point? What is necessary and what is just noise? Druthers’ culinary chops are showcased here. Briefly.
5. Information Architecture.
Be clear and concise in delivery.
^ Design decisions certainly do factor into this category, but figuring out what goes where and how elements can be arranged to make communication easy and effective has to happen before layout. Understanding typography and how a [Western] eye accesses information on a screen or a page makes a difference to the success of a piece. Iconography, groupings, visual breaks, color coding. Decisions. Revisions.
Be nimble with your messaging and you’re already relevant.
^ Communication built around events, or current events, can be some of the easiest to relate to or participate in. Real-time responses and interaction can convert fans faster than the most strategic media buy, or the wittiest headline. These events for the Lake George area are specific (see #1 above) customized communication that creates a sense of importance and helps to establish immediate demand.
We have a healthy respect for data, and have been actively measuring the effectiveness of our own work, to make our subjective industry a little more certain, particularly for clients new to Trampoline. Research is crucial to getting the creative right.
We’ll dig in ourselves or partner with great organizations like Schireson in New York City or Mt. Auburn Associates in Boston to make sure we understand our challenge. Follow-up, interaction, A/B testing, responsive design all matter and improve the customer experience, but they’re nothing without a concept.