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modern day brand building – advertising as a byproduct?

Welcome to Detroit from Shinola on Vimeo.

This is a nice post by Edward Boches covering Shinola, a brand I myself just recently came across flipping through Men’s Style on Flipboard (ehrm), and how well they build their brand (so far).

What’s noteworthy is that this is not about building a brand in a new way, often including opinions around the death of TV, the insanity of bought media and extinction of print. And it’s not a case of proving how traditional advertising still works. It’s about how modern brands understand it’s not either/or, it all compliments each other, and that the most powerful thing is to have a purpose, and hence story, beyond – but not irrelevant to – the commercial interest.

This isn’t about going viral or driving millions of views, rather it’s more about telling the brand story, providing easily embeddable elements, and building a library of content that doesn’t feel as disposable as most advertising.


The thing with advertising being disposable and, in general, increasingly being disliked, distrusted and enjoying less acceptance is an interesting one. It’s not just that there’s more and more bad, lazy, poorly crafted advertising speaking in a voice that’s disconnected from reality, it’s that there’s often not much of a counter weight.

Advertising, at least as we tend to narrowly define it today, should be no more than a byproduct (and certainly not the sole product) of a commercially curious creative company.

Gareth Kay

People are ad literate enough to understand how advertising works – polished by agencies, constructed and often exaggerated – but if that’s all a brand is going to serve, then screw you. If a brand opens up and shows a greater depth, signs of being in sync with society, people, vision, reality, you are much more likely to enjoy a greater acceptance to your advertising.

Think about a great brand experience you’ve had, and how that affects your perception/acceptance of their advertising. That’s brand experiences in a broader sense.

Increasingly, to get meaningfully noticed is through delivering on the unexpected and over-delivering on the expected. Not very advertising centred, but very much commercial creativity.

advertising brand digital just a reflection media quote

the value, or not, of online advertising

From a brand communications perspective, some of the most interesting things happening are around new ways of connecting to people that, at least, buy or use your product. I say at least because today there’s nothing holding people back from promoting and selling your brand, if they dig it. And there’s nothing holding brands back from not making that more likely. I like what Rick Liebling touches on in this post about the future of retail, and how brand advocates can/should/will be viewed differently from an organisation-boundary-perspective. More thoughts on that in a later post.

At the other end, brands need to continue to “just lightly nudge” people into buying their services and products and display advertising is, from a user behaviour and media usage pattern perspective important. A few bits that are connected happened to pop up about the same time.

Google says that its technology could be a game-changer, in that it will create an advertising product that can command a premium.

“Display inventory to date has been limitless,” said Faville. “It could be that prices for viewable inventory become higher as advertisers’ confidence increases in the system. There is a high likelihood of these ads being seen as valuable to marketers.”

From The Guardian/technology

“The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen. The average American family hasn’t time for it, it will never be a serious competitor to radio broadcasting.”
– The New York Times in 1939, by way of Dave Trott.

Via Gustav von Sydow

“Well-informed people know that it is impossible to transmit the human voice over wires, as may be done with dots and dashes of Morse code, and that were it possible the thing would be of no practical value.”
– 1865 Boston Newspaper, by way of Dave Trott

Via Gustav von Sydow

Premiumization is likely to happen. Exclusivity formats too. And likely to work, because it actually should work. We will break free from terminology like display vs ondemand TV vs online TV vs Broadcast TV etc and see more clearly. Nobody ever clicked on a TV ad, yet we know it works. Mere exposure effect is real, etc. Just a reflection.

advertising brand creativity organizational planning video clip

brands – coming alive to the world!

There were a couple of things shared last week that just made a full circle, like a triangulation that zeroed in on an often discussed matter in advertising (and brand management). That of brands being a bit like humans. Or not. Having POVs on issues, showing humor or not, being in the know and so on. Complex like humans. But let’s not get too deep into that.

Absolute Vodka

Absolute Vodka, with their artistic heritage, doing their view on what’s available to us all; more possibilities than ever to communicate and express our individuality. Less and less must conform to furmulas, more styles are in-style at the same time than ever before. You are never more than a couple of keystrokes or swipes away from your “cultural peer groups” wherever they may be in the world. Individuality and uniqueness for everyone.

Campbell Soup

Campbell Soup
image source

At first, Campbell opposed the Warhol artwork but thought again. Today, they’re recognizing that the Warhol artwork evokes so much more than a can of soup and welcome being part of pop art history by working with the Warhol Foundation to celebrate the 50 year anniversary. One can only hope they build on that and keep going beyond that, seen as it’s basically a boring ol’ can.

Oreo Cookies

Oreo Mars Rover Ad
image source

Brilliant ads with this little cookie as canvas.

“Oreo turns out to be really respiratory. When it celebrates Elvis, the Mars landings, or Bastille Day, it comes alive to the world around it. Playful, even. After all, who celebrates French holidays? And the brand has recently taken on the image of the Liberty Bell, the Dark Knight, and the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower.”

– Grant McCracken in HBR

“It comes alive to the world”, what a fitting way to express it. Brands who look outside their immediate self, recognising and tapping into the world around us.

As there is usually a long time-lag between an advertising exposure and the actual act of purchase, effective advertising requires long-term memory (Ehrenberg et al. 1997, p.9). This associations in long-term memory are built on the one hand by repetition and on the other hand through all kinds of other brand exposures, such as WOM, brand usage, POS or even recalling memories. Once associations are stored in the long-term memory, they are hardly ever completely forgotten. As people build highly individualized memory-structures, “[p]ublicizing a brand is [.] about what consumers do with the advertising rather than what advertisements do to consumers […]” (Ehrenberg et al. 1997, p.10). So with long-term memory in mind, advertising’s task is then to find creative ways to publicise the brand, refresh and build new memory traces and “to make the brand distinctive rather than differentiated” (Sharp 2010a, p.353).

Brands can act a bit human in more ways then ever before given social norms soaking the very fabric of most media technologies and platforms for communications. But brands are moved forward by organizations, and those organizations aren’t exactly littered with individuals who understand that we tend to buy more easily from brands who occupy a larger share of our memory. And that those memory structures do not have to be internally worshipped facts about exactly why to buy, and instead be thrilled that “…this ‘mere publicity’ perspective might actually be liberating for creatives, as advertising then becomes “making distinctive and memorable publicity for the brand out of next to nothing” (Ehrenberg quote from Thoma’s thesis).

advertising brand case work

Aqvia advertising running in Sweden

Aqvia – Churchhill from Gyro Scandinavia on Vimeo.

The commercials for Aqvia is running in Sweden at the time of writing. I’m part of the team behind it so I’m biased, but I love the feeling in all of them. And the voice belongs to Harry Potter’s hat…

The objective is to sell more gas and the machines is essentially a means to do that in a consumer market. But that doesn’t means it’s a case of quick and dirty manufacturing. Quite the opposite, as AGA has great heritage in stoves (now owned by another legal entity in Great Britain) and more importantly Scandinavian design.

I’ve had the chance of digging into the home appliances category/ies and in this case Sodastream is the main competitor. This Israeli company were pushing the last wave of bubble makers, around when I was 7 and everybody wanted to make their own coca-cola. They now have such a majority stake of the market you wouldn’t believe it. Touch competition.

The positon we found, although it’s fairly clear given the quality and aesthetics of the product, is about a well designed home, conscious decisions about interior design and objects. The kitchen is a good place to look when figuring out what kind of design sense the person living there has. Sodastream machines are for families where the kids make coca-cola, finger paint the walls and spray ketchup in the roof just before football practice, stressing mom out.

advertising brand

honest crazy people

There’s really someting in this. The truth part. Funny thing is that yesterday I watched Crazy People, about the copy writer who starts telling the truth (Volvo – They’re boxy but good, their not sexy but who wants to be sexy nowadays, with all diseases going around…). It’s gone from glorified truth in 30 sec with a proposition, to on demand stuff and social networks. I don’t care about the media used to get the message through, but I bet you advertising 3.0 is good looking, fun but at the same time strictly informative. Because the way things are going (on demand, what you want when you want it life style) you’ll have brand entertainment and then brand information. That’s how I want it at least. Don’t know how, but it feels right.