This post is by Evening UST MBA student Vitaly Demin, a strategy consultant at Eames Management Group and co-founder of the Russian technology blog Gridder.ru.
Al Ries, one of the world's top marketing strategists today, wrote in his best-selling book "Positioning" back in 1981 that the purpose of advertising is to support the position of your brand. It's not about throwing around fancy words that people will never believe in and remember, it's simply about reinforcing your brand position in your prospects' minds.
If you listen to most ads today, they all scream how great the subjects of their advertising are. And this might be ok, as long as it falls into your brand strategy and connects with the recipients of the information. Unfortunately, most companies fail at this.
Let's compare a couple of examples.
Apple in their ads consistently tells how easy and intuitive it is to use their products. They showcase their devices and describe them with down to earth words and phrases. This allows Apple to keep reinforcing their brand promise of making easy to use technology products and this simple message does connect with the consumer.
Now let's look at Verizon Wireless and Droid smartphone manufacturers. This whole intergalactic star wars space monster robot show started about two years ago with the release of the very first Droid smartphone and it doesn't seem like the world will see the end of it any time soon. Let's take the most recent example, Droid Razr, which according to Verizon and Motorola, is too powerful to fall into the wrong hands. Now, that's a thinker. Many viewers of the ad might easily ask what is meant by that. It would be interesting to watch the executive who approved this ad try to answer this question. Would he say that the smartphone can be used as a weapon and that some bad guys might use it against the US government? Or may be this phone is so powerful and fast that it can help robbers blow up a bank vault and fly away with the money? For those who love stories like that the amount of potential Droid Razr applications can be endless. But the most important question remains. Does it make any sense in the mind of the consumer and does it connect them to the brand?
Forbes recently considered a similar effect in Apple vs. Droid browser use.
The biggest challenge for advertisers today is to make their message stick but it's not about making people remember how funny or full of special effects an ad was. It's about making them remember the story about your brand and the qualities of your products when they go shopping. Every year we see many ads take top spots in Super Bowl funniest commercial lists but the reality is that most of them neither sell much nor connect with people the way they should.
Decision makers in companies that spend hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars on ads should sit down and think through every single word in a commercial they are about to approve. Will the word "awesome" register with my prospects? Will the phrase "blazing fast" mean anything at all to them? And so on. The reality is that people don't react to fancy words anymore. They need a distinct message about your brand or product to be able to process it and hopefully remember. Almost every single company on earth claims to be the greatest, the coolest and with the hottest products and that's why they fail. Picking the right and unique words for your message and communicating it clearly to your existing and potential customers will go a long way. You will enable the consumer to understand the language of your brand which will help you get the most out of your ad. All your message really needs to convey is your brand position and your simplicity.
Nevertheless, every year companies around the world keep spending millions and billions of dollars producing flashy and confusing advertisements. The reality is that all it takes to start doing it the right way is to believe it. Sounds so easy yet so difficult to do.