‘We think branding deserves a better name.’ This simple slogan is interesting on a number of counts.
First, just about every branding consultancy will agree with it. It is particularly relevant now, given the deluge of bad feeling about branding in the wake of BP’s ‘Beyond Petroleum’ positioning by Landor Associates that has followed the Gulf of Mexico debacle – another case of the messenger has been shot.
Second, it is great to read wording so refreshingly direct in a sector renowned for its jargon. Marketing speak can so easily constitute empty claims in the eyes of an increasingly astute and cynical public.
But third, and perhaps most pertinently for design, it represents a rare bid by a branding group – in this case Heavenly – to promote itself through the medium of print advertising in the national media.
Recruitment ads apart, very few have taken this route. Jones Knowles Ritchie is a regular advertiser in the marketing press and others may tout their wares in titles appropriate to particular client sectors, but most prefer the cheaper options of conference appearances and media coverage. Indeed, when Coley Porter Bell took an ad in a national newspaper in the 1990s it caused a bit of a sensation within the design community.
But taking the view that branding expertise, with its blend of visual and strategic creativity is on a par with management consultancies such as Accenture and McKinsey, Heavenly’s directors decided to put the consultancy out there where business clientele expect to see other professional services groups. And, with a couple of ads already out there, they maintain it is already working.
A recent display ad in Design Week generated several leads with clients, they say, but the hope is that by extending out into the blue-chip business world, they might attract the attention of chief executives who will put their oar in when marketing directors present their pitch lists.
The Financial Times is a key target for Heavenly and the same direct approach is paramount. Slogans such as the one above, ‘We think you should invest in your brand’ and ‘We think too much nonsense is talked about’ form the basis of the campaign’ have been devised for different sections of the paper.
In this, the Heavenly team is building on a direct approach the consultancy made to the chief executive of a major betting chain to say it could do with rebranding. That won the consultancy a place on the pitch, alongside eventual winner Wolff Olins and incumbent group Elmwood and resulted in a commission by another betting business.
If Heavenly is successful in this approach it could changes attitudes to advertising within the design sector. Certainly, the slogans themselves should provoke a long-overdue debate about definitions and the efficacy of good branding. But that’s another story.