Advertising Guide


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Advertising is one of the most frequently used and powerful communications mediums for brand building. How then does one maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of this medium?

The first step is to confirm that you have designed and positioned the brand to leverage all three of the following: (a) a compelling point of difference in the customer’s mind, (b) your organization’s unique strengths and (c) your competitors’ vulnerabilities. This implies that you have identified the brand’s target customer, essence, promise and personality. The brand promise, in turn, implies that you understand your brand’s competitive frame of reference and the customer’s benefit structure within that frame of reference. The brand design and positioning will drive brand advertising and every other brand marketing activity. Make sure your ad agency thoroughly understands and embraces your brand’s design. (While you should take the lead in crafting your brand’s design, ideally your advertising agency should be actively involved in the process, including immersing themselves in the underlying customer research.)

Effective advertising accomplishes the following:

•It reinforces your brand’s essence, promise and personality
•It delivers tangible results against the specified marketing objective
•It is relevant, believable, ownable and memorable
•It has staying power. That is, it has the ability to achieve your marketing objectives over time

The next step in advertising development is specifying the marketing objective for the advertising. That is, what do you want the advertising to achieve? Do you want it to increase brand awareness, attract new customers, increase brand loyalty, encourage add-on purchases, motivate people to switch from competitive brands to your brand, increase frequency of use, etc.?

Next up is creating the ad strategy statement. Again, you (the client) should take the lead in this process, but with significant input from your advertising agency. Following are the key elements of an ad strategy statement:

Convince: “Who” (Target Customer)
That: “What” (Relevant Differentiating Benefit)
Because: “Reason Why” (Proof Points)

You will arrive at the benefit through an intimate knowledge of the customer including his or her beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. The most powerful benefits will exploit your competitors’ vulnerabilities or overcome previous concerns people had about your brand, its product/service category or its usage.

Proof points include the following:

•Product features and attributes (including the design itself or its formula or ingredients)
•Performance features, statistics and research results
•Performance guarantees
•Service claims
•Side-by-side comparisons
•Third party endorsements

The marketing objective and the ad strategy statement are key elements of the Agency Brief, a document that communicates the strategic direction of a new advertising campaign. Below I outline all of the elements of the Agency Brief:

Marketing Objective: (desired tangible result)

Assignment: (deliverable and timing)

Customer Insight: (key insight that could lead to changed brand attitudes or behaviors)

Ad Strategy Statement: (differentiating benefit promised to the target customer)

Brand Personality: (from the brand positioning statement)

Mandatories: (those items that are givens)

The agency brief provides the direction that the ad agency needs to develop the campaign idea, storyboards, print ads, ad production, etc. In a future post, I will outline the most important components of strong brand advertising, focusing on steps subsequent to the creation of the agency brief.

Derrick Daye
The Blake Project
Derrick Daye, is the Managing Partner of The Blake Project, a leading brand consultancy. He helps large and small growth oriented companies design, manage and build brands that drive revenue through differentiated customer experiences. He co-authors the branding blog Branding Strategy Insider, has worked with the White House Press Corps, the National Basketball Association and Johnson & Johnson.


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