When It Comes to a Branding Campaign, It's About Location, Location, Location
by Houston Howard
In case you haven’t noticed, effective branding and marketing is no longer a one way conversation and the old interruptive approach to advertising is failing.
Don’t fight it. It’s true.
So, what’s the way forward for brands, both entertainment brands as well as traditional? In addition to their commitment to the core product or service of the brand, brands are now being forced to also view themselves as publishers and entertainers in an attempt to connect with consumers in a new way. This, in turn, forces brands to create and design content around original concepts that continually support their brand messages and engage audiences on a true, meaningful emotional level. Not only that, the content needs to be pervasive, be able to be extended into a host of mediums and withstand different levels of scrutiny and exploration from a variety of demographics.
“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...so how does one do that?”
As I discuss in my book, Make Your Story Really Stinkin’ Big, there are actually very defined creative steps you can take when you’re developing that optimizes your creative content on backend. One of those steps is being very location-minded when developing the creative concepts around your branding campaigns.
Admittedly, you may have created great characters, written funny lines for them to say or mapped out awesmoe things for them to do. However, you also need to think of what kind of location will house them. Is it a town? Is it a world? Is it a building? Is it a galaxy? This is extremely important, because this will create the “world” aspect of the “storyworld”, give your characters context and allow both your characters and audience room to explore.
In the pure entertainment space, you see this quite frequently. In the Harry Potter series, the people groups are wizards, witches, students, teachers, etc., and the location is Hogwarts. Batman has Gotham City. Lost has an island. However, you also see this materialize in your branding campaigns as well. For example, the SportsCenter commercials have great character groups - athletes, mascots and SportsCenter anchors - but they also have created a perfect location to house them and have them interact: the ESPN office building. Similarly, the Terry Tate, Office Linebacker campaign expertly utilized the fictional Felcher & Sons office building in its campaign. The Progressive commercials have that weird stark white insurance shop. The Happiness Factory campaign has the world that exists inside the soda machines. All great locations that house great character groups made up of great characters.
Some campaigns even have great settings and don’t even realize it. The Man Your Man Could Smell Like campaign, for example, admittedly has a great character in the spotlight, but after the Isaiah Mustafa’s character is played out, couldn’t they continue to explore a crazy world where shower walls fall down and you’re on a boat and then you fall on a horse, etc.? If you just think about that world for a second, you realize that the world itself could be mined by a host of other interesting characters, giving the concept more shelf life and longer legs.
That really is one of the major benefits of building out a location-based world for your brand - campaign life.
When you pitch a television executive a concept for a show, you will always get the question of whether it can be sustained for multiple seasons. Shouldn’t marketers and brands look through the same lens and be invested on how to scale a concept to something that can exist and continue to be mined for quality creativity for multiple years?
I say ‘yes.’
Thinking of a location is just one way for you create an enduring, pervasive world for your brand. Trust me - if you make it a dedicated part of your creative process, you’ll be more equipped to rapidly deploy ideas for your brand. Plus, who knows, you just might create a campaign that will endure for years to come.