April 30, 2015

The “Happyish” Truth Behind Building Brand Strategies

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“It’s Lord of the Flies out there folks — and everyone over 18 is Piggy,” says Thom Payne in the series opener of Showtime’s “Happyish.” The character, played by Steve Coogan, is an executive at a New York agency, and through him we explore tensions between millennial and 40-something worldviews through the prism of the advertising industry. Though the show lampoons the industry in some exaggerated ways, there some real truths and critical takeaways when it comes to branding.

As the “Mad Men” finale looms ever nearer, “Happyish” pulls back the curtain on the world of brand development in an equally probing if not less glamorous way. In the pilot episode, Thom has his Jerry Maguire moment in a TED-esque staff meeting led by the agency’s two new (millennial) creative directors, who wax poetic about all the latest social media platforms. Why, Thom asks, should Keebler, one of their biggest accounts, have a social media presence at all? What’s the objective of a cookie on Twitter? And furthermore, he continues, why does Pepto-Bismol’s product label ask consumers to follow it in the social space?

Behind the scenes, Thom’s colleague offers this advice: “Times have changed, Thom. Thinking is not as important as tweeting.” That is, after all, one of the easiest ways to dismiss the industry: chalk it up to those crazy millennial and their obsession with social media everything!

In reality, the brand development process requires a substantial amount of thinking before we even begin to make social media platform and content recommendations. Working closely with our insights and strategy team, the Delucchi Plus brand team must answer a series of questions before we can produce a solid brand strategy, including:

  • Who is the brand targeting and what are the demographic, psychographic and geographic characteristics of those targets?
  • What personas can we derive from this information and what needs does the brand fulfill for them?
  • What is the brand’s ultimate business objective and how does its team describe the offering?
  • What makes the brand most unique relative to the competition?
  • What touch points do each of our personas have with the brand and what does their journey look like along this conversion funnel, from awareness to purchase?
  • How does our message change along that journey?

Have times changed? Of course, and they will continue to do so. Who knows what new social media platforms tomorrow brings? One thing that won’t change: The research and thinking required to pair those platforms with a strategy aligned with real business objectives. So, while marketing delivery channels will continue to evolve, the process that gets us there remains constant. Staying sane amongst the change is just about how you position it! Or, in the words of another “Happyish” character to Thom in reference to how he deal with his office angst: “So marketer, rebrand thyself!”


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