Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cohesion not consistency... comes from knitting it together



In the world of communications (connections etc) planning, there has been many different models, styles or ways to go about planning all your communications. Every man and his dog have brought to bare their version of events. Whether its the specialist Michaledis and Bednash, to Naked, to media agencies catching up, to creative agencies adding to their own planning offering.

It all started with media neutral planning. Taking everything into consideration and the brand being consistent across a number of channels to increase frequency and drive the message home hard. Then it was about Trans-Media Planning which talks about the common idea, but the different narratives that are expressed and built through different channels and works to drive communities of people around their own expression of the narrative.

Where I think this starts to fall down a bit is that as a brand there could be multiple streams of activity in market at any one time. Media Neutral and Transmedia Planning highlight all the elements that the agency identify and recommend as apart of their 'Campaign' within their budget or the elements they can control. What about things they cant control but will still have an influence on the consumer and in turn their view of the brand.

No matter what area of the business you come from you will be throwing around statements like 'we need to move upstream'(I hate that term, my nickname at school was fish due to my swimming abilities and it just reminds me to doing laps... its useless as an expression).

In order for anyone to do this its not just about one off campaign ideas. Its about truly driving how the brands we work with behave in every thing they do, not just if its linked to a campaign idea or not. Ive been working a lot with social media strategies lately and the outlay of what futurist Ben Hourahine has highlighted as 'Thread Marketing' or ways to diffuse your messages throughout mutliple contexts, entry points or expression points across the web or in real life is powerful but can lead to a lot of fragmented pieces that may have little effect. But the use of simple short codes or logos can connect everything through more content, other people, additional services or possibly something we dont know yet. This is another element that will expand out but could happenn separately to a campaign. The ability to now connect everything could add in delivering their cohesion but also give agencies a broader role outside just the campaigns they deliver.

It is hard because our roles are very one by one campaign by campaign. HP have used their youtube channel to start to utilise their creative for their sales team which is a simple way to start. But the next question is what about when the sales staff go out to speak to the channel (sorry its an IT industry term for IT wholesale companies). How can the brand baheviour be cohesive across B2B and B2c. Its more than using the same character from the ad. What if their business cards has codes to link to 'How to Buy' guides that were delivered in a humorous way similar to the videos. What if tools or widgets were given to staff to share on their intranet. Digital tools can now embed code in them to track all the pass on effects and comments around videos and other tools. So we could compare the greater lasting effect of the B2B video vs the B2C video online and compare that to the television ad, vs the outdoor that might have a code that connects people together via location based software.

Its getting more complex but the interesting part is how they connect and work together to make the brand stand for something. From the qualitative angle of how we can build the brand story through all these different experiences or threads, be it paid, owned or earned to the ability to measure the individual elements and their entirety will be the value of comms planners. I see their role as a way of 'knitting' everything together. Then seeing what the jumper looks like at the end.