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Be brave, be bold, be a brand-builder

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Creative frustration comes in many forms. And sometimes it’s too easy to blame others who are under pressure to narrow their marketing funnel and deliver against short-term goals. Dale Haste, head of creative at Mobas, makes the case for bolder brand-building.

I’m going to be honest here. When you work in an agency, it’s easy to get frustrated now and again. It’s certainly easy for us creative types to get up on our high horse and rage at the seeming short-sightedness when our latest ambitious and game-changing concept are quashed.

Deep down we understand that there’s always another rather more pragmatic and less adventurous side of the story. That running a marketing department, while keeping the wheels on financially and satisfying the immediate – and let’s face it rather pressing – demands of the board is no easy matter.

But that does bring us to a fundamental issue about brand-building, and the need to find the will, the energy and the bravery to instigate long-term brand-building strategies in partnership with agencies.

Over in the states, media mogul Irwin Gotlieb has been pretty vocal in the past about the short-termism that in his view leads to a “massive deficit” in brand-building, which in turn puts a drag on the western economies.

“When you become more focused on the short-term than the long-term, you need to narrow your marketing funnel because that’s where long-term effect happens. You focus on short-term ROI, but brand-building doesn’t give you short-term return, it gives you long-term return.”

He’s talking on a grand scale of course, but he’s definitely referring to an everyday practical reality that affects marketing investment which, in consequence, compromises the quality of creative campaigns.

Firms tend to report on their performance over short-term periods with the result, many say, that there is no accountability for managers’ long-term performance. So they are encouraged to focus on the short term – which makes them more ‘short-termist’ in their decision-making.

It is this culture, I’d argue, that propagates the reliance on “quick and dirty” brand communication and ineffective “me-too” generic advertising. It’s difficult to pitch a case for considered and longer-term investment in brand assets (everything from positioning and tone of voice to original photography and original thinking) when you’re being chased for – and judged by – next week’s numbers.

The conundrum is, or course, that those brand-building type things are the very things that differentiate you, make you stand out and make you more successful. We’re fortunate here at Mobas to be working with a host of clients who get that, and are working with us on differentiating and brand-centric activity to transform opportunity into success.

And don’t get me wrong. Agencies have a responsibility to be responsive, reactive and agile to help clients maximise short-term tactical opportunity. It’s just that such activity is all the more powerful and meaningful when part of a bigger plan driven by insight and focused on a coherent growth plan. In my book, being bold, brave and brand-focused is no more than good common business sense.

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