Truth or Proof?


According to Stewart Alter, a McCann-Erickson historian and one-time head of publicity, copy chief Ralph St. Hill, at predecessor company The H.K. McCann Company coined the term Truth Well Told. A brilliant, if simple, piece of poesy, the line illuminates McCann offices on every continent.

Talk to brand planners past and present and you are likely to hear the word “truth” many times. Words like transparency and authenticity are pop planning words, but truth has generational staying power. Truth in advertising makes lots of sense. If consumers sniff out even a hint of mistruth, they begin to shut down.

As a brand planner I’ve built a practice around proof. Proof is what delivers truth. Proof is a tangible. It’s dare I say “existential.” Branding and adverting are certainly cousins but branding is the chicken and advertising is the egg. The chicken keeps giving birth to eggs. Brand strategy, done well, keeps giving birth to ads.

The way to build a brand is to create an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging, the framework for which is one claim and three proof planks, and stick to it. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center may be the best cancer care anywhere (truth), but the fact that they get the toughest cases in the world is the why (proof).

Brand planner hard drives across the globe are filled with proofs and truths. Search out the former in order to build your brand strategies.