Tim Burke
Brand Strategy
Why Branding Should Not Be Left Only to Brand Ads

This post was originally published on Eicoff.com.

A sure sign of a strong brand is its ability to shine in any medium. Display. Print. Audio. Video. Blimp-vertising. A solid brand should adapt to its new environment while still maintaining the core look, tone and personality that it has spent a lot time (and likely $$$) to build.

The same idea applies when the objective of your ad changes. When you bring in a more response-minded goal, or the notion of “driving sales” to your advertising, it’s very common to hear:

“But… what about the brand?”

It’s a fair question. And an important one to ask. The reality is you don’t have to ditch the spirit or feel of your brand when striving for more actionable creative. You just have to be smart about how you incorporate it. One popular tactic is simply tacking a call-to-action to the end of the current brand TV commercial. While this move won’t hurt your branding, it likely won’t generate the results you want, either. Creating an ad that motivates a response needs a grander transformation.

So, here are a few thoughts on how to carry your branding over into your response-oriented creative:

Watch your tone
While every brand voice and tone might not transition perfectly into direct response, most will be just fine. Don’t go changing. Instead, focus on the distinct aspects of your brand voice and infuse that into your direct creative. For example, if your brand is humble by nature, don’t start acting all cocky in your direct response creative. Humble will work wonderfully in the new environment. If your brand voice believes in simplicity, don’t get too technical in your DR work. Instead, work hard to explain things with brevity and clarity. A consistent tone can help distinguish your brand at every point of consumer contact.

Embrace your look
From your typeface to the types of faces you portray, there are countless ways to bridge your brand identity across your many media placements. One of the easiest connectors is through graphic design. If your brand guideline doesn’t have a design toolkit, create one. Build graphic elements that help your brand stand out from the crowd and distinguish itself – everywhere. Think about colors, patterns, any icons, sizing, caps, no caps, initial caps. You get the idea. Also, it helps to take these elements on a test drive. See how well they work with different media or platforms before you launch them into the real world.

Cue the audio
TV, digital video or radio all present the opportunity to build branding via audio. In some cases, a brand voiceover may carry over seamlessly into direct response. Other times, the talent may be totally wrong. Either way, evaluate and decide. If it works, you’ve got another brand connector. Music is similar. In brand advertising, music often can become the main takeaway from a spot. “I love the song!” In the direct world, music is vital to helping foster emotion and pacing, but it must be secondary to the message. If your brand embraces a certain music genre – country, urban, pop, cowbell-only rock – that can be a great way to create consistency, too. And lastly, an audio mnemonic (also known as an earworm) is a simple tactic to help with brand separation and recall. However, just like a design element, strive to have an audio mnemonic that can live across different types of content. For example, if your mnemonic is incredibly goofy sounding, it likely won’t work in a video that is highly emotional.

A strong brand should always be designed with a level of strictness (don’t go there!) and flexibility (let’s bend the rules a little). And whatever the goal – awareness, promotion, leads, sales – of your specific ad, it should always be seen as an opportunity to advance the brand. Believe it or not, a strong-selling, product-focused, offer-driven TV spot can still very much appeal to one’s eyes, ears and heart.

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