Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ads are like a first date - Branding is about LIFE

After a week at Cannes Lion it´s easy to be drawn in to the feeling that the way to sell a product is to use an AS. Perhaps a digital ad, a TV ad or an iphone ad - but still... an AD. The adworld love ads. Of course.

But branding is broader; it´s about the product, the consumer experience, the way you interact with the product a year on, the design, the LIFE you have with the brand. It´s not about the first date; it´s about the LIFE.

I believe every good relationship should have a beautiful or interesting story; it´s healthy to have a mysterious or crazy "first moment" that you can look back at years later, when the fireworks have stopped and the boredom becomes a part of LIFE. When you look back at the first weeks, the first glance or the shine around your first date, your heart will remember, and you will look at your partner with a smile - suddenly in love again...

A great ad campaign gives you the story, the fantastic first date that is like a base for your stable partnership for LIFE. But branding is about more than that. It´s about the small gestures, the micro moments, the care, concern and vulnerability of the day-after-day LIFE you create together.

Great branding does not focus on an expensive dinner at your anniversary; it does not forget about the other 364 days of the year - instead those days are the centre of attention. That´s where love grows. Or dies.

Last night I had dinner at a new hot place in Stockholm (Gården Grill och Bar) and was stunned by how we got treated by the staff. Apparently the kitchen was so busy you could not order food, but the boys in the bar came out and told us when we could, did it with a smile and happy energy, and tried their best to feed us. The food was simple but presented in a lovely way, and it tasted as a burger should. THAT is good branding.

This morning I was waiting for the bus - together with a growing number of people getting more and more stressed. A man from Buslink stood there, but he kind of forgot to tell us all that the bus would not show up, due to some traffic drama. He told you if you came up to him, and when I suggested that he should put up a sign since this had been an issue for days, he said "there will probably be one soon, if this continues". Uh. 40 people waiting for the bus (probably thousands since the problem began) and he is not informing us, and can´t even write a sign as a courtesy for us? That is BAD branding. No ad campaign can save Buslink Stockholm from people´s dislike.

Marketing managers need to think about all those tiny meetings us consumers have with the brand. When you spend millions on ad campaigns, but forget to clean the bathroom or let people stand in horrendous queues, your money might be wasted.

A first date can be a profound story to tell your grand children - or simply a first date that you forget, since the next one sucked.

Focus on LIFE, not on the first glance.

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