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    God Is In The Detail.


    “Nothing matches the holiness and fascination of accurate and intricate detail.”   Stephen Jay Gould

    Great historical fiction pays attention to cultural and environmental detail. I eat that stuff up. It fires the synapses and slaps me awake — learning about different era’s behaviors and adaptations to environs. As a yout (youth), I flexed my creative muscles writing fiction by making up things. It was fun.

    Today, I counsel marketers on brand strategy…which is mainly brought to life in the form of content. Sadly, much content today is delivered at the hands of copywriters unattached to the products they’re selling. They are attached to words and grammar, maybe even selling poesy, but it’s rare to find one more than a few inches down in the dirt when it comes to product and service detail. Therefore, their words ring flat. Think writing a historical Roman novel from your Brooklyn condo with sirens and horns blaring outside.

    Details, intricate details, are what get attention. Details reinforced truth. They convince. If the word “authenticity” weren’t so over-used in branding today, I’d say details deliver authenticity.

    Storytelling is a pop marketing tool today; but stories are only as good as the details they bring to life. My brand strategy framework is all about claim and proof. Detail your proof, me droogies. God is in the detail.



    Problem Vs. Insight.


    So, many brand planners will tell you to start out looking for the main business or brand problem as you begin your planning efforts. It’s a great place to start. Brand planning savant Mark Pollard of Sweathead is a big advocate of identifying the problem. And it’s hard to argue with Mark. But another approach is to simply mine business, brand and behavioral insights in a more free-form way. The issue is, most brands seek help when there is a business problem. Conundrum much? 

    For me the latter approach wins out. Ever the optimist, I like to think the brand strategy needn’t be built on a problem. Better to seek an opportunity. A positive. It can open more doors. Reading the faces of consumers is always more fun when they are juiced and smiling than when harangued and frowny (afrown is not a word?). Also, riffing and pursuing the positive is a way to extend the interview, maybe make it even more creative. We aren’t psychiatrists after all.

    Any good listener knows people will go to complaint land. That’s okay. Let them. But if there’s an opportunity to go all Pollyanna, take it and fly.




    Deepening Brand Insights;


    I was just reading that of all the forests in the USA, only4-6% are considered old growth. That means when Europeans landed we’ve cut down 95% of the trees — many of which have regrown over the last 3-4 hundred years. (We’re lucky to have some old growth forests in the Smokies Mountains.)

    Ever in search of metaphors for my branding practice, today I’ll turn to old growth forests. AKA origins. Many brand planners — especially those who learned the craft since the advent of the web, search technology and ecommerce — are doing brand strategy using new growth forests. Sure, they look at brand heritage, founders, and naming. And sure, they delve into the company brand archives. But they’re really only evaluating yellowing artifacts. Rarely strategy. Were they to be dealing with old growth evidence, they’d be planning and strategizing using the people, culture and psychology of the day.

    Let’s face it, in America most products and services aren’t (themselves) old growth. If your product has been around 50 years plus you are in the micro-minority. Even so, planners need to be aware of the brands they study over time. Rather than mine physical artifacts, they should be thinking about the people, their motivations, and existential desires longitudinally. This is how we get to insights. This is how we understand and change behavior.

    Ask yourself when planning, what are the old growth factors, the functional/behavioral factors the brand will fulfill. And deepen your insights.