When Strategy and Execution Are Incompatible, Magic Happens
Magic? Isn’t it more like mayhem?
Have no doubt about it: A clash between individuals responsible for creative ideation and those concerned with strategic development can be debilitating to the brand-building process.
But must it?
With a dollop of sarcasm, I suggest that “butting heads” produces a greater result. And I’ll go further: It’s out of sparks of friction that new ideas are shaped – by eager minds determined to leave an indelible brand mark on an audience.
Yes, it’s this friction that leads to better work. The give-and-take exchange results in unfamiliar directions for more surprising brand communications.
In this corner – the creative; and in that corner – the brand planner
Theoretically, a wild-eyed creative director is looking to push the boundaries of a surprising and ironic execution in hopes of grabbing the attention of a consumer. Then there is the brand planner, who develops the strategy for which the foundation of the brand story is to be built, and also is responsible for the underpinnings of the message – but not necessarily the delivery in which it is expressed.
It is not uncommon – even on well-known accounts – for the planner to stridently determine the “way in” to influence an audience with “the brief.” But the creative team sees no way to express that insight – or even agrees with its relevance. So, what do we do?
Keep calm in conflicts and clashes – with the goal to convince
Argue. Politely. And influence each other before attempting to influence an audience. That’s right. Convince each other first, and it will be so much easier to persuade the targeted audience to purchase a client’s products or fall in love with their brand. Which is no easy task, as anyone who’s done it will tell you.
It is through this clash that the magic happens in this business – whether it’s between a creative and planner or two individuals comprising a creative team. The social media team who wears the hat of “knowing” what the best practices are for every social platform, or the account manager, who knows the client better than anyone. The point is that the exchange of ideas and the heat from the challenge of a different point of view pushes the diamond to the surface. That’s how the best ideas are unearthed. Without opposing views constantly challenging ideas, nothing new will be born.
It's the nature of the business
It’s who we – as professionals in advertising – are, anyway. Ever wonder why we are a business of skeptics, cynics, and doubting Thomases? We are because we challenge each other’s ideas. Constantly. We have to. (But, then again, maybe we are born with this personality trait and it’s what leads us into this business. Who knows?) The point is – we challenge ideas before they are for public consumption. We spend hours questioning our ideas, executions, strategies, and positions to try and make them as effective as they can be. We second-guess ourselves, and even third-guess ourselves. We examine conceptual nuggets until we are blue in the face or until research budgets dwindle to potato flakes in a bowl where chips used to be.
But this exhaustive grind is a good thing. The audience will challenge our work, won’t they? And they will ultimately decide who was right or wrong.
One thing is for certain, though: Without that spark of conflict, there won’t be many ideas that will stand out and magically hold an audience, propelling them to act differently.
Eliminating the stress of the ideation process will more likely lead to campaigns that are too familiar to audiences. Surprise will be taken out of the recipe. The work can be good, but not remarkable.
So why not agree to politely butt heads? That’s where the magic resides.
Do you want ideas strong enough to make it through a rigorous internal process? We happily bang our heads together every day for brands to tell better stories.