Beyond creative ideas, to creative BUSINESS ideas

I liked a recent piece by Dan Hulse, MD of St Lukes, in Marketing in which he wrote about the need to go beyond creative ideas to creative BUSINESS IDEAS that lead to organisational change. This is very much in tune with our philosophy of "brand-led" business, that I used to kick off this blog with back in 2006, here.

He kicks off by talking about the need for brands to brand and deliver with a focus on action, not words. He uses a nice analogy with the world of movies:

Any good screenwriter will tell you that all character is action. You don't write about who that character is. You put that character under pressure, forcing them to make a choice that reveals who they truly are… actions say more than words ever can.

The same is true for brands. Any brand can claim excellent service or superb value, but in the harsh reality of the interconnected world, the nature of that claim will be revealed by how the brand acts.

Here are a few of Dan's key points.

1. Build on brand truths

I agree 100% with Dan's point that "most successful brand agendas are rooted in the truth of the product or service". Click here to see a column from The Marketer I wrote on this topic.

As he also rightly says, these truths "may be dormant, forgotten or yet to be discovered". This is why a key part of any project is to help the team look back at what made the brand famous, in terms of marketing but also organisational capability. 

Dan uses the example of The truth in this case is that although it appears to be like any online women's fashion retailer, it help customers access a more stylish life makes stylish brands affordable through credit. St Luke's idea of "Do it in Style" placed trading-up at the heart of the brand, and drove Very's range, including a more aspirational, premium own-brand offering.

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2. Engage the team

Dan's second point is on the importance of engaging the organisation to deliver action. He's bang on when he says, "The sooner you get the people who can make change happen involved in creating the brand agenda, the easier that change becomes." This is obviously crucial for service brands, where the people are the brand. But it is also important in product brands.

St Luke's work with Majestic Wine helped define an agenda of encouraging wine discovery, expressed as "Come and explore". This led to ideas such as Explorer cases for sale online. Just as important was a programme to train every customer-facing employee, creating a customer experience that is distinctive versus supermarkets. More on Majestic Wine here. 

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3. Fresh consistency

Growing your brand needs fresh consistency: stick to the same brand story and properties, but find new and exciting ways of expressing these. Dan uses the example of Strongbow cider. The brand is still about rewarding masculine achievement. But as the market becomes more competitive and aspirational, the brand needs to remember and refresh what made it famous. He explains that "The brand has moved from simply talking about earning it to offering real guys the opportunity to rise to a challenge."

This has been brought to life in activation, with men being given the chance to face an over an England international cricketer here, or to take a penalty against the German football goalkeeper. Core range extension has seen the launch of Strongbow Dark Fruit.

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 In conclusion, a great reminder of the need for your brand idea to drive the whole business, not just communication.