Thursday, December 10, 2009

A quick reason not to skip 1b

Somewhere between the Red X wine tasting to giggly pizza, Nikki and Dennis and Josh and Kim and I talked about this whole personality and identity thing, and something came up.

Part of the reason Step 1b is important is this: In good advertising and marketing, one of the rules is "show, don't tell."

I worked for a client one who wanted to communicate that their mortgage company was trustworthy. Great—but we're not going to put "trustworthy" or worse, "you can trust us" anywhere in the copy, because the more you say it, the less you look it. In my current job, we struggle whenever it's time to promote humor product, because you can't just say something is funny—you have to prove it.

The biggest challenge in transforming the words that describe your brand personality into creative direction that inspires your marketing is figuring out how to show, not tell.

Sure—Spite can describe their shows as ballsy, and there's might even be a time and a place it's appropriate to use the word. Even better, though, would be to communicate it in the way we do everything—the way we dress, the way we play, the way we blog, the way we Tweet, the way we design our posters. We can say it all we want, but for an audience, it's seeing that's believing. (Which is why we'll get to brand image—your audience's perception vs. your description.)

I sat in on a pal's rehearsal in Chicago one night when they were being coached by then-Annoyance player Scot Robinson (the group included kick-ass improvisers Debra Downing-Grosz and Rob Reese, among others). The cast was doing some pretty clever, verbal stuff, but it didn't sing. After one player said "I love you" to another, Scot told him to stop just saying it and prove it to her with his behavior instead. Suddenly things got much more interesting.

Because, like Annoyance instructors tell us, how you do what you do is who you are. It turns out it works in marketing, too.

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