Let's Be Clear
Updated: Aug 4
I've been judging and B2B awards show in Chicago this week and seeing lots and lots of submissions from a broad range of agencies from very small boutiques to very large global agencies. Lots of work submitted across lots of Industries for every platform imaginable.
It's been an interesting experience because I'm getting a perspective on what we as an industry are doing on behalf of our clients. It's clear there are a few things we're doing quite well, and a few things have serious room for improvement. The single thing that jumps out at me as having the biggest room for improvement is: clarity in the communication of what we're saying to the audience that we're communicating with. My goodness, I've seen some really gorgeous work. It reminds me of when I was a younger man dating, and I would spy someone from across the room . . . (if you're a woman and I'm sure the same things happen to you) and saying to yourself, "Oh my goodness what an attractive person,
I think I would like to speak to that person." And so you finagle a way a way to make their acquaintance, and introduce yourself, and all of this perfect composition, and how they carry themselves, and how they dress. and how they smell . . . all of these things just completely fall apart the moment they open their mouth, because they had nothing to say.
And that is what a lot of branding work reminds me of—the worst of it does. The best of it, when when the brand opens its mouth, it has very compelling, clear, intelligent, memorable and actionable things to say, but the weak stuff . . . I could tell that they spent lots of money on it. I could tell that they'd invested lots of time, and that the people who produced it weren't dumb—they immersed themselves in the work, but at the end of the day it was not effective work. It doesn't matter how much money we spend in creating branded assets. If they aren't effective, it is a wasted opportunity. It is wasted money, and we are wasting the time of our audience when, at the end of having interacted with one of these pieces of work, they are no better informed about what we do how we do it, what makes us better than our competitors, and what we would encourage them to do based on this new awareness that they have. Clarity: clear statements about a value proposition. It's about strategic messaging. It really is about keeping it simple. It's about continually, throughout the the process of developing the story, the communication strategy, the brand strategy . . . to continually ask the question on behalf of our audience, "Why should I care?"
And if the messaging does not continually map back to something that is meaningful to them, solving a problem they have, providing an insight they lacked before, whatever, then we are failing the test of relevance and above all we need to be relevant to the people we're speaking to. Rick Julian
Chief Creative Officer QV
Rick Julian is an award winning Creative Director and Brand Strategist at his agency QUO VADIS, a branding agency in Atlanta, GA.