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Creative Brand Advertising: the secret to successful digital brand campaigns

Domino Głowacka
Marketing Manager

While most of us can pinpoint what makes up a retargeting ad (a good picture, the best price, a clear call to action that the user should click), successful branding campaigns can take a million forms.

As the saying goes, they are really only limited by our imaginations. And, good branding once again becomes a matter of finding a balance. Where is that perfect point where branding ads are creative and even provocative, but still grounded in the rules and best practices? How do we unleash creativity while harnessing data?

Here’s how… from Felipe Galiano, Global Creative Director and part of the WPP All-Stars Team based at Ogilvy Berlin.

What do you think makes a successful brand?

Remarkable and bold communication starts with a real brand value to the consumers.

You know that you succeed as a brand if it becomes part of culture somehow, either by becoming a meme, hitting mainstream media or when a “did you see…” conversation pops when you’re having a haircut.

What is the one thing that all great branding campaigns have in common?

The key to making a good brand great is to own a specific territory, untouched by others, and then keep leading the customer back to that place, time and again, to assure that they associate the brand with that idea. After establishing a solid grounding in the original space, it becomes a playground for agencies and brand managers to create whatever they want while still keeping a solid brand consistency, both locally and globally. Burger King, for example, has consistently built a refreshing, self-deprecating tone of voice, which is completely alien to other brands. They can then play upon this in any number of ways, and it works, as their ads perennially win awards and increase the brand’s share of voice.

What does the creative process behind a branding campaign look like? What are the steps and who’s involved?

The most important part of a creative process is exploration. The only way you will find the best idea is by recklessly exploring everything. Explore and explore again. Put your Indiana Jones hat on and go on a journey through all perspectives; study every angle of the brief and try to stretch the brand to the very edges of its identity. Only by mapping a full spectrum—from completely wrong to very safe ideas—can you judge what the best approach is. Since being safe is naturally easier, you should focus your energy on the other end of that spectrum.

How wrong can I go? How much risk is too much risk? How far can this brand go? These are the questions that one must consciously ask during the creative process in order to come up with something that is impactful and meaningful to consumers and will stand out in a world full of communication pollution.

How do you align campaign ideas with the client’s expectations?

There are many ways of measuring ideas against actual needs. The best approaches are to work closely with the strategy team and create a multi-criteria value point system per idea, or to conduct tests with real consumers and gather their insight. These are unarguably the most efficient and safest ways.

However, there is 10% wiggle room, where the brand specialist (who lives and breathes the brand 24/7) should take a risk and listen to their gut feeling. Otherwise, ground-breaking pieces like the Cadbury’s gorilla ad would not exist.

Looking at common pitfalls, what should you NOT do when creating a branding campaign?

The biggest mistake most brands make is mimicking competitors falling into industry cliches. In such cases, it doesn’t matter how much you invest in communication, it will all fall in a limbo of mediocrity.

The automotive industry is a prime example. Brands invest enormous amounts but very few really stand out. They all feature perfect car photography, impeccable models, and fast cuts. On the face of it, they are perfect but, in reality, we can’t distinguish one from another. The ones that stand out are the pioneers that break the mold, such as Volkswagen’s “Fun Theory” campaign which featured funny, simple ads; or the Honda “Cog” ad that turned the parts of an Accord into a mesmerizing Rube Goldberg machine; or the “Epic Split” from Volvo trucks which had Jean-Claude Van Damme doing… well, I won’t ruin it. Just check it out on YouTube if you haven’t seen it.

Thinking about digital campaigns, what do you think is the best ad format for the job right now, and why?

Never underrate the value of being in the right place at the right time. Nowadays, there is an endless number of options; however, context is still the most important thing. If your ad is not in the right place at the right time, it will pass completely unnoticed. So, don’t just follow media trends; find relevant places to reach that consumer. I probably most often click on Instagram and display ads that are relevant to my taste.

Felipe Galiano is a Global Creative Director and part of the WPP All-Stars Team based at Ogilvy Berlin, leading the Mondelez team and running campaigns in more than 40 markets.

Previously, Felipe was at AKQA Tokyo where he was responsible for building and driving the studio’s creative vision by combining technology and storytelling to bring international brands closer to Japanese customers through engaging, culturally relevant experiences.

He has led award-winning projects for brands like Google, Nike, Audi, Nivea, MINI, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Phillips, Nissan, Milka, and GE.

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