Expressing your brand isn't good advertising

It’s important that your advertising be an expression of your brand and purpose. But merely expressing your brand and its purpose is not good advertising.

This is one of the most common experiences I’m noticing these days (whether it’s in advertising coming out of Calgary, Edmonton or anywhere else). The importance of having a well-defined brand and understanding why you exist and what your purpose is—these are all catching on in the marketing world. Which is great. It’s important. And we fundamentally believe in them in how our firm works with our clients and their brands.

But after going through what can be a long journey to arrive at a concise and inspiring brand platform plus beautiful new design guidelines, there can a tendency to be so proud and excited of everything that you simply want to express it to the world in an ad.

This is forgetting everything we’ve learned about good advertising over the years.Things like people aren’t interested in you, they’re interested in themselves. People are busy and distracted and you need to compete for their attention. 

Simple can say a lot.

I believe the sweet spot, the most effective combination, is when an ad manages to take the modern approach of delivering the higher ideal of a brand but through good, old school, simple, effective ad making


A great example is this Lego campaign. It does an awesome job of demonstrating Lego’s brand purpose: to inspire and develop children to think creatively. But it doesn’t do it by reciting it’s brand platform in a :60 TV commercial with emotive images of imaginative children. Instead it obeys the rules we’ve all known for so long: simple stops people in their tracks; simple is all people have the time and energy to pay attention too; simple gets remembered; simple can say a lot.

This isn’t a rant by any means. Just a reminder.

I have to remind myself regularly. I love helping our clients uncover the reasons they exist. I love writing emotive manifestoes that inspire and excite.


Leave a greater mark

Our own purpose as an agency is to help good organizations make a greater mark on the world. I just try to continue to remind myself, and those around me, that a good ol’ ad when combined with a good modern brand story can leave a greater mark.

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