Throw People Into A Campaign

The development of technology has enabled more and more creative branding campaigns that appeal to all five senses of the customers. However, a key step towards a successful campaign is to lure customers onboard.

It sounds easier than it really is, as customers are always smart in detecting the branding intention in the activities and don’t want to be manipulated by companies. Therefore, embedding the campaign into a real-life situation may be a possible solution, where people would find it too late to say no before they realize they’ve participated in a campaign.

The Choose Beautiful campaign by Dove is an example. With only two labels above two entrance gates, the campaign managed to attract over five million views on Youtube. People have to open the door to get in the shop, which left them with no choice but to take part in the campaign.

However, the move is also challenged for going to far. It may anger people who don’t want to make a choice at all. Meanwhile, the categorization of “beautiful” and “average” is criticized for neglecting other human features. It also excluded the male customers, leaving it sexually biased.

Will CGC Always Work?

As Dorito’s campaign of co-creating ads with customers turns out a great success, more and more companies have jumped on the bandwagon of customer-generated contents (CGC) in hope of boosting brand loyalty. However, companies should be aware of what kind of loyalty they are talking about when launching such a campaign.

Prashant Malaviya suggests that the CGC strategy may turn into a hype of existing loyal customers and not necessarily helps to promote the brand among new customers. The reason is that loyal customers will love the brand regardless the quality of the advertisement, while customers who are not familiar with the brand will still be skeptical of the ads. Therefore, the CGC strategy will only intensify the bond between the brand and its loyal customers.

I think this bond is actually a powerful weapon for companies to expand their influences. In a CGC campaign, companies should promote the ad creators as well. As customers themselves, they are taken as “one of us”, which makes their contents more credible and persuasive. Therefore, companies should provide sufficient background information together with the customer-generated ads.

The Trap of Gamification

Adapting to the interactive feature of digital environment, advertisements can include games elements in them to engage customers. A study by Celtra suggests gaming ads beat displaying ads in almost every way in boosting engagements. While ads in traditional forms passively beg customers for their attention, the game feature can tie people to the ads even for hours, because it expands customers’ experience and offers them more pleasure.gamification2

However, the link between engagement and brand loyalty still need to be carefully examined. Brands should be aware of the risks that the popularity of the game itself may lead the campaign away from the original aim. That’s why the form and rule of the game is important for brands to make sure each step is made the most use of to promote the products. An example would be the Dropquest by Dropbox.

It’s a multi-step scavenger hunt that has customers solve a series of puzzles in reward for free Dropbox spaces. The tasks are actually clues that lead customers to explore Dropbox’s different features. The quest is a good combination of game and advertising as it fulfilled the goal of informing by engaging.

Show It, But ‘Beautifully’

A good ad starts from a creative concept, but visualizing ideas also requires designs. People are presented with ads just the way they look like. What they don’t know is why it uses this font, color, or the hand-drawing image rather than the picture of real stuffs, etc. They are all parts of the design work, which involves a series of decisions around the arrangement of elements to communicate the idea efficiently and precisely.

Poor design may undermine a good idea. Take a look at this poster.

poor design

The ad want to show that this handcrafted guitar is endorsed by many people. The problem is that it just crammed all the stuffs into a limited space without a particular stress. That will make it hard to direct viewers’ sight flow. Though the big guitar stands out to grab viewer’s attention, the headlines and other important information are buried in those colorful “names”. It would take longer time for the viewers to cast their eyes on the most important information.

Great Ad Copy: Only ‘You’ Matters

Copy is an integral part of an advertising concept. It interprets the visual to make it meaningful to the viewers and makes sure they get the message promoted by the brands. Ad guru David Ogilvy made a strong point on how to produce an appealing ad copy – use the customers’ languages. That is so true yet something neglected by many ads men, who are obsessed with the twists and rhymes in the language itself but forget to address customers’ real needs.

I’m not rejecting all the twists and fun of playing with words, but words must say something and drive at taking the customers aboard. Forget about those brilliant features of the product and think on behalf of the customers – How would these features benefit me?

Compare the following headlines.

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The first line speaks out of the mind of the beggar, but people may find it irrelevant to their own life. The second line just builds the connection by putting the customers into the beggar’s situation, so that people can relate themselves to the issue.

A good copy is not necessarily made up of splendid words, but it must be specifically focused.

“Cheap” Or “Good”? A Real Question

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When we buy something, we want them to be good, and desirably, cheap. That’s why many companies are willing to attach their products to the concept of “affordable luxury”. But such idea is a headache for me as an advertisement designer, as it asks the design to deliver two contradictory messages.

Typically, “affordable” means the product is cheaper, or less costly, while “luxury” is always linked to wealth, stylish or extravagance. It’s not hard to present each side, but negotiating the two ends is an art based on a clear understanding of the dynamic between brands and consumers.

Do companies want to promote “cheap”, or “good”, as the main selling point of their products? Answer to this tricky question is highly linked to the brand image. Actually you can’t go too far with “cheap”, as one negative implication of “cheap” is “poor quality”. Most companies would like to have their products compared with the leaders in their fields rather than those living on bulky and cheap sales. Customers, too, want the products to elevate their personal images and social status. For most of the times, they would prefer “the cheap product” as a secret only between they and the brands.

The Creative Leap and Divergent Thinking

Back to the discussion about creativity…

Since the first class we’ve been encouraged to take a “creative leap” in presenting ideas. After another brief task and several in-class practices, I seem to have a growing sense of its meaning.

The base square of the leap, in my viewpoint, is your first impression or intuitive thoughts of something. The leap occurred when you find the inner connections between two seemingly irrelevant things. For example, Newton diverged his thoughts when seeing a falling apple, thus he found the law of gravity.

The leap usually takes the form of inspiration, but in fact, it’s the result of an appropriate connection. A way that helps us to find the connection is divergent thinking. When we break down a brief, don’t rush in with the first idea that pops out. Try to come up with more keywords that are related to the core theme and develop more connections for each keyword. The next step is to rewind the process by examining those on the outside layer of the tree map. Then choose one branch that’s suitable to answer the brief. Bingo! You have a concept.

divergent thinking

Divergent thinking help you to shake out the stereotypes and clichés of an object. The more you practice, the more you’ll find how your concept goes beyond literarily showing what the proposition says towards interpreting the message in a more funny, clever and creative way.