I can’t believe I’m still fighting this F****!

What’s on your list of “I can’t believe I’m still fighting this fluff in 2023!”?

Here’s mine (in no particular order):
👉Generation-focused marketing (millennials, y, z…)
👉 Brand archetypes (and most Jungian psychographics)
👉 “Start with the why” + “GrOw”schools of purpose
👉 Lovemarks (and generally “brand love” residue)
👉 Maslow (honestly!)
👉 “We’re different because we’re customer-centric”
👉 Brand frameworks that are a mashup of other frameworks
👉 Get/To/By creative briefs with no strategy in the “By” (or, often, anywhere else. Post coming soon.)
👉 “Brand is dead” (or TV is dead, or any “X is dead”)
👉 “We need to go viral.” / “create a movement” (in head: “here’s a movement. [flips the bird]”)
👉 “Marketing vs Branding”


Add yours in the comments!


Understanding Creative Strategy, Part 4: Further out

A roundup of examples before we move on.

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By now, gentle reader, you probably think I’m like that kid in The Sixth Sense. Only instead of ghosts, I see triangles.

(a visual refresh, or find the other parts on my profile)

Last time I demonstrated how the same (or similar) three win-conditions of marketing (Integrity, Relevance, Difference) show up across other advertising frameworks and brand valuation models. This time, we’re going further. From advertising to brand strategy and beyond. Starting with two of the world’s most popular marketing writers.

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Understanding Creative Strategy, part 3: The paradigm in the wild (advertising)

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The Paradigm

At the heart of our creative strategy model are the ‘marketing win conditions’ of Integrity, Relevance and Difference. I often refer to that part of the model as ‘The Paradigm’.

I use ‘paradigm’ because I believe it reflects one of the most prevalent and fundamental concepts in business and marketing. I admit that is an outlandish claim. Probably second only to attempting to create a unified model of creative strategy. But I stand by it.

A quick reminder: the paradigm defines how brands win in markets. Typically, they use aspects of their core competence to create a proposition for an audience that stands out from the alternatives (and against the general noise of the world). To do that, you need to get as close as you can to the audience (Relevance) and as far away from the rest (Difference). Often a balancing act. It’s deceptively simple.

(if you missed the visual summary, it’s here.)

Examples of the paradigm in advertising thinking

Here is a small collection of quotes and references that may sound different at first, but all reflect the same or quite similar three factors/aspects. This time we start with examples from Advertising and next time we’ll move beyond (it was too much for one post). Emphasises are mine.

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Understanding Creative Strategy, part 2: model walkthrough and footnotes

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So, to recap — last time I had the cheek to suggest a unified model of creative strategy. This time, I’m going to get a little bit nerdy to unpack that model and the thinking behind it.

That model (name pending I guess, any ideas?) didn’t come out of thin air. I have complained in the past about our industry’s tendency to present models as orphans. So on some level part 2 is me being the change I want to see in the world…

I could have tagged all the people mentioned, many are on LinkedIn, but I’d like to think I’m not THAT kind of LinkedIn user. 🙂

Notes on the shoulders of giants:

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Understanding Strategy, part 1: a simple unified model for creative strategy

Building a simple unified model for creative strategy — in three layers (and triangles)

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Marketing and advertising are suffering an effectiveness crisis. Experts and practitioners both agree that creativity plays an important part of the solution.

But to make it work, we need to bridge a rarely addressed gap.

People often think creative strategy is ‘fluffy’ or irrational. Especially compared to business strategy, marketing strategy or other X strategies. The worst examples certainly are. Still, the best practices of creative strategy are deeply rooted in marketing and align perfectly with classic business strategy. Here’s how I believe it works, looking back on my practise, while standing on the shoulders of giants*.

(* See notes in a separate post, where I also expand on some of my choices. Leaving the ‘scaffolding’ in made this post too long)

Layer 1: Fundamental market elements (Company, Customer, Context)

At a fundamental level, brands meet their audiences and stakeholders within a market context (typically including a competitive landscape). This concept is close to the well-known 3Cs model of strategic thinking popularised by management consultancies: Company, Customer and Competition. Small tweaks can be made to match sectors. For consumer brands, for example, the interaction is typically between Brand, Consumer, and Competition/Category (which sadly ruins the 3Cs memetic, unless we rename ‘Customer’ as ‘Audience(s)’ and get ABC). In our model, context replaces ‘Competition’ to expand into the wider category and broader cultural landscape.

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