I use the guidance and wisdom of many industry luminaries in my work, one of whom is Ken Carbone, chief creative director of the Carbone Smolan design firm in New York. He brilliantly summarized, in just three words, the formula for how the world’s best brands tell their stories. That formula is: Unify. Simplify. Amplify.
UNIFY is about achieving consensus around a brand’s vision, its values and voice. Skipping this step is a common and costly mistake.
SYMPTOM: I work with ad agencies across the country, and I often hear this heart-breaking story from creative directors. “After a month of 80-hour work weeks our team presented an incredible campaign to our client’s marketing committee. It’s some of the best work we’ve ever done. And you know what one of them said at the end of our presentation? “I like where you’re going with this, but that style of humor just doesn’t feel like our brand.” That was it. Our great work died right then and there.” The creative director clenches his fists and says, “Can you believe that? What a stupid thing for our client to say, right?!” I answer, “I hear you and I feel your pain, and the work you did is amazing. But what I have to say next will be hard to hear. “Maybe your client didn’t have such a stupid thing to say. Maybe it was just a really stupid time to say it.”
UNIFY is how to stop this from happening again.
Ad agencies and design firms need to work side-by-side with their clients and together explore key messages, emotional triggers, tone of voice, and graphic treatments before they scurry off and start creating the next great campaign. It’s much more effective to discuss, argue about, and finally agree upon styles, tone, messaging and so on, in the safety of a closed conference room.
SIMPLIFY is about creating a clear, concise and memorable brand promise. Keeping your message simple, sells. And your customers will be more likely to share your message with others.
AMPLIFY is the fun stuff. It’s about activating your brand through advertising, sales presentations, and social media and embedding your brand into virtually every customer touch point.
TREATMENT: Because it’s the fun stuff, ad agencies, design firms, content creators and internal marketing departments are tempted to jump to Amplify before they nail down Unify and Simplify. You need to follow this formula in the correct order to get the results you’re looking for. Want your B2B brand to kick butt? Unify. Simply. Amplify.
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