There’s a nice threaded conversation on LinkedIn started by a recent college grad asking for good books on account planning. (Account planning is market and consumer research packaged in a way that helps creative people develop ads and such.) Most every book on account planning favors strategy that breaks from the norm. If your strategy challenges the category norm, while offering a special consumer connection to your brand, it is a great starting point for the work.
On the creative side of the business, there is a similar point of view. Well-respected creative directors often say great creative makes clients feel a bit uncomfortable; it needs to in order to break from the commonplace. There’s a bi-polar thing going on with great creative that attracts and repels clients as they judge it. If the work disrupts, is unexpected or simply startles (“Hail to the V”, for instance) it gets seen, processed and acted upon.
Back to strategy. Many of my best brand strategies contain a word that makes clients uncomfortable. They get the idea, they know its meaning and expected effect, but they often ask “Do we have to use that word?” My answer is always no. It’s a strategy, not a tagline. It’s an idea to have an idea. But then I know I’ve got them. A great brand strategy hits a client right between the eyes. A leg starts to tap. The eyes dart. The breath quickens. All because of the possibilities. The different between presenting strategy and creative is huge. Present creative and the client’s mind is on yes or no. Present strategy the clients mind is on the future. Big diff. I love my job! Peace.