Time for the part of an IMC plan that is surprisingly done by strategists and not designers or copywriters: the creative strategy. It is actually written for the designers and copywriters – the creative team – to inform and focus them for the project at hand. There are many formats for a creative strategy, every advertising agency has one. They all must tell the creative team what the message is that they have to get across.
How do you know if it’s a good creative strategy?
- Does it spark an idea?
- Does it lead us to new and original ideas?
- Does it reflect the character and positioning in the IMC plan?
- Is it honest?
- Can it be interpreted in only one single-minded way? No one likes to be confused.
- Does it answer “So what?” in every line?
- Does it clearly define the boundaries for the creative team?
- Could the consumer choose this product and/or service over all other choices based on this strategy alone?
The creative strategy is never something to gloss over, if it’s bad, then the creative will be bad. Strategists have a very important job, they need to have the “big idea” that will drive the creative team to make something beautiful. I always dread writing them because it’s hard not to write something that’s cheesy and unoriginal. Still not sure what an actual creative strategy looks like? Here’s the shortest format, and the hardest to do. It comes from the Leo Burnett Agency.
The reason I say this is the hardest format is because those four sentences have to cover a lot. It’s hard to answer everything properly. Here is an agency format that I quite like from TBWA\Chiat\Day.
- What is the opportunity and/or problem the advertising must address?
- What do we want people to do as a result of the advertising?
- Whom are we talking to?
- What’s the key response we want?
- What information/attributes might help produce this response?
- What aspect of brand personality should the advertising express?
- Are there media or budget considerations?
- This could be helpful…
With this format, I find it easier to answer all the questions the creative team may have and that they have a solid strategy to go off of. And the budget makes a big difference too – oh, Toothless just hopped onto the couch with me. Why hello!
He is very distracting, I may have to make this post a little shorter than usual. You understand, right? Anyway, we’re not done quite yet. The execution of the creative strategy must also be considered. You want all of it to be consistent, this is a key success factor as the target audience will better retain the brand position. Remember, the position is how you think of the brand, not their physical location. A girl in my class once answered our marketing professor’s question about a brand’s position after her group’s presentation and she started talking about locations…it was pretty awkward; she dropped out of the program after the first year. Back to my point about consistency, you want to really be consistent with everything in the creative execution. Expanding on that, continuity is also important. Using the same slogan, taglines, characters, etc. and using the same theme, image, tone, or attitude will make people not only remember your brand but think of the brand how you want them to. I had a whole new found respect for strategists after learning about all of this, and trust me, it’s not just the designers and copywriters who are “creative”. It’s commonly used in the industry but every position in the advertising world requires creativity.
As I enter the final year of the advertising program, I have one simple strategy:
Slay my assignments. Slay my early classes. Slay my late classes. Slay all the classes in-between. Slay my presentations. Slay my projects. Slay my group projects. Slay my portfolio. Slay the freshmen 15 I never lost. Slay my self-doubt. Slay anyone else’s doubt. Slay my interviews. Slay my internship. Slay coffee runs. Slay standing out. Then, finally, slay as a college graduate.