Brand Noir: Crafting a Who-Why-How Dunnit
Sapient’s Director of Global Marketing, Charles Sayers spoke about this concept during SXSW. His panel was titled “Brand Noir: Crafting a Who-Why-How Dunnit”. Sayers worked on both the Coca-Cola and AutoTrader campaigns. He said that most companies take months to come up with their campaigns, but he said strategies should only take a couple of weeks. One of the examples he gave us was the Coca-Cola campaign. Sayers and a bunch of interns strategized for weeks. He would not allow anyone to throw away a piece of paper if it had writings or drawings on it.
Sayers said there shouldn’t be a formula for creating a brand. He said that companies don’t want anything that’s stale and structured. He also said to start out by saying “there is no perfect”. I like this idea. It frees up everyone in the group from coming up with “the big idea”. Sayers said that people should feel free to voice their opinions. Too often, people are too scared to say what they want to out of fear of being criticized. Freeing up the group in this way, pushes people in new, creative directions.
Some of the ideas he talked about were using the rule of opposites, use imagery, make people feel uncomfortable, define yourself in a way that no one else can and decide how you want people to perceive your product (for example, is Coke a vessel or a stream?). He also said it’s very important for people to make choices. Most of the time groups don’t want to do this but, they need to so they can move on. Sayers said the faster the story is created, the better. He went on to say that it’s better “to have it a little rough and charged with enthusiasm, than to have it perfect and polished — it loses its bite”. I like this idea because, to me, it makes the process more exciting.
Sayers said a lot can be conveyed through imagery. For AutoTrader, he came up with a list of famous people who exemplified some of the characteristics of the AutoTrader company. He called it “The Personality Spectrum”. Sayers said the AutoTrader group wanted someone like George Clooney. They felt that he was intelligent, self-assured, and he knows what he is talking about. They also like Amanda Peet because she is assured, wholesome, strong and approachable. They then used this information to craft their brand.
Here is Sayers talking a little about the Coke project: