Frequency and reach – the twin pillars of media planning do their best to grab as many targeted eyeballs as your budget allows. That’s the math. But how do you enable that well designed plan to have the maximum impact? How do you stimulate brand affinity in the primary target, while igniting that target to share the ad, the message, the product or service with their circle of influence?

Creative is the multiplier that not only stimulates brand affinity in the primary target, but ignites that target to share the ad, the message, and when conversion occurs, the product. There’s no recipe for creative success but there are some essential elements that contribute to it.

Strategy

Underpinning great creative is great strategy. They are generally intertwined. Why generally? There are those creatives that go off strategy and develop something so brilliant that it exposes a new advertising strategy not previously considered. On those occasions the strategy needs to be revisited and if the new strategy is superior, it needs to be the driver. Rule number one in strategic marketing is don’t fall in love with your strategy. If there’s a better strategy go for it.

Think about your favorite ads, pick one. Write the single sentence that the creatives likely used to create the ad. “This advertising will convince that target that…” Go ahead. It’s an illuminating exercise. Great strategy frames the parameters of the creative playing field allowing creatives to focus on the best creative expressions of that strategy, rather than floundering in the wide expanse of the undefined. And spending time in that geography breeds less than amazing results. It wastes time, frustrates creatives, account people, and clients. The single sentence of course isn’t the only component of the strategy, but it is the culminating summary of the strategy into a singular thought. And that singular thought is the super charger of creative focus.

Ideation

Inspiration is an interesting noun. For some creatives, it comes as a lightning bolt on a run, in the middle of the night, or after a cocktail. For others, inspiration comes through an ideation process – examining creative conventions and exploring potential concepts within those conventions. The conventions do nothing more than force the creative mind to iterate in, if you will, a genre of creative. This process aids not only the creative engaging in it, but the account team and the client. It ensures a 360 look at the possible concepts on the one theme – the single sentence. If the creative mind never explores exaggeration for example, the best idea could be overlooked. Check out this outstanding example of exaggerated benefit:

Now, wouldn’t that make you remember the company, have a positive affinity and ignite you to share it? Don’t you want your creative team to explore the landscape to get there?

Respect

There’s one aspect of the creative process that often goes unmentioned. It is respect. Why? Respect for the creative process is imperative. The surprise? It isn’t just required of the creative team to its audience, it’s required of the client and the account team. In the full court press to make great happen now, the process is often sacrificed, and guess what? The creative output likely suffers. Creative needs the research time to find priceless nuggets to build great strategy upon. It needs the ideation time to explore the possibilities, water every seed, shoot the wounded. In today’s commoditization of great ideas, respect for the creative process is in hibernation. We need to thaw it out so we can allow the percolation that brings forth the uncommon
thinking that makes advertising effective.