Bob died of a massive heart attack. The funeral director bathed him, brushed back his hair, touched up his face and dressed him up in a finely cut suit and Gucci shoes. Bob was ready to face the world one last time. But Bob is as dead as a door nail. And if he were left out any longer, rigor mortis would kick in and he would rot and stink. Sadly, the suit and the shoes will not help (Sorry, Gucci).
Now let me tell you that Bob is actually an ad, a TVC or a direct mailer. And the soul is an idea. Without the soul, no matter what it wears, it will stink and get buried in the graveyard of sameness.
Such is the power of an idea. You can cloak its absence with gimmicks, execution style, and with a litany of rationales. But let’s not kid ourselves – it’s dead.
So why is it so difficult to instil ideas? Believe you me, it’s not rocket science to come up with one. It takes the same amount of time to do a ‘crappy’ ad as it does to do something that’s memorable and stands out. You hunt for images and fonts. You spend hours trying different backgrounds. What’s the point in flogging a dead horse?
If a client’s aversion to ideas is what’s stopping you from infusing an idea into your every day work then you need to understand the true meaning of an idea.
An idea is not a bizarre, abstract and cryptic puzzle that you pride yourself in while everyone around you doesn’t get it. If that’s your definition of an idea then you are in the wrong profession. Maybe you should paint. There’s a huge market for abstract art – people don’t understand it but pay a king’s ransom to own it.
The ideas that I am talking about are simple truths born out of insights. It’s the originality and power of how it is presented.
It’s what happens when we shed all the frills that adorn our egos and start looking at consumers as real people. We tell stories, we make them laugh, cry, sing, question the status quo.
When your core idea is steeped in the essence of the brand, chances are the client wouldn’t reject it. But you cannot arrive at path-breaking ideas if you haven’t understood the brief. Don’t just read it. Question it. Believe in it. A brief is like a stereogram, if you look at it long and hard you will see an idea taking shape. And the more you immerse yourself in it, the clearer it will get. Look for gold nuggets. Push for insights. Find the many ways in which the product can enrich lives then dramatise them.
Breathe life into your work and it will live in people’s minds.
And, if you do it with all your heart, become immortal in a hall of fame…