It’s often said that what goes on in the creative department defies explanation. That the thin sliver of black light under the door, where the fingers of smoke slowly curl out in front of the strobe lights behind it, is the only glimpse most mortals will ever see of the mysteries within. No rules, only wild yahoos dancing on tables and sketching feverishly on walls— banging their heads and throwing artisanal cupcakes at each other like a vision from the final days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
And while I signed a pledge of secrecy when I decided to become a member of “Creative,” I will now reveal some of the rules on which all branding agency creative can be made stronger and more effective. If you’re a client, and feel that these equip you to take on the work yourself, I apologize to my creative collaborators and cohorts everywhere.
1) Humans don’t read.
I’m actually amazed you’ve made it this far. Truth is, that aside from the flammability warnings on the can of air freshener next to the toilet, humans will not read much to understand what you’re trying to tell them. So any creative team worth their salt knows to keep it sharp, to allow the target to get it at-a-glance, and to avoid trying to explain too much once you get their attention. We know the secret is to earn participation by pulling your target in with a lure before you can get them into your boat. Which is a metaphor, unless you are selling watercraft.
2) We are in the brainwash business. We are in the brainwash business.
Brands are built on consistency. The more someone hears you, the higher chance they may actually listen to what you’re trying to tell them. And eventually, they may even start telling other people. The key is to be consistent without becoming boring. Great brands thread their positioning through many types of executions in a way that stays fresh and potent. Being “on-brand” without being repetitive is the balance, and finding and maintaining that balance is the Holy Grail.
3) The 4 C’s: Cleverness Can Cill Clarity.
Finding the smart hook that makes a message powerful, rather than confusing, is the key to creative that has both stopping power and meaning. We know we’re here to communicate a message, not win the “look I’m an artist even though I’m not” award. Trying to be too clever can hide the original point, and that sucks for everyone; the client gets no value, the agency loses the client, and the art director becomes sad and listens to Depeche Mode. So make sure it makes sense. Much to the eye rolls of my team, I often refer to this balance of creativity and logic as a ‘bridgeable gap,’ where the creative is provocative, but most everyone it’s targeted to gets the point.
Ok well that’s it for Vol. 1 of my salacious series outing some of the industry’s hidden secrets. Stay tuned for more as the series continues. Until then, good luck out there.
Jordan Goldenberg, Creative Director