Monthly Archives: March 2014

What you can learn from Charles Darwin

images

“It’s not the strongest creative content that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin may very well be the most quoted person of the past 150 years. So, what’s the big deal? More important to us, how does he apply to creativity? At the heart of Darwin’s theory was the idea that each species adapts to its environment. From this process of change, new species arise. This theory has relevance to agencies and marketers seeking to spread their message in a changing marketplace; let’s call this the marketing evolution.

While on a journey aboard the HMS Beagle (now that would be a cool name for an ad agency), Darwin observed that every island of the Galapagos had its own type of finch. While these birds were closely familiar, they differed in subtle, but significant ways. This holds truth when a marketer attempts to distribute their message across various platforms.

Darwin theorized that organisms best suited to their environment had a greater chance of survival and reproduction. They passed along their key survival characteristics to their offspring

Today’s agencies and marketers that distribute brand messages through multiple platforms are prone to Darwin’s theory. Competing for attention in each channel, key “survival traits” are necessary for optimal success. While “content is king,” both context and relevance matter — if neglected, the message can disappear and the brand faces extinction.

Here are 5 theories Darwn outlined in On the Origin of Species, and how they apply to brand content marketing evolution:

1.  Evolution “While species come and go through time, they change during their existence” — Branding and marketing isn’t new. Brands have always relied content to survive. But, content has evolved over time. It started as stories told around the campfire to teach and entertain family and friends. Make sure your brand’s content can evolve with the times. The best way to accomplish this is to use stories about your business. Storybuilding (I don’t like the cliché “storytelling”) is how people will remember your brand.

2.  Common Descent “While organisms descend from one or more common ancestors, they diversify from the original stock” —  Diversify your content! Use various techniques – text, photos, infographics, videos, etc.. Don’t be a one trick pony.

3.  Species Multiply “Diversification involves the population of one species changing until they become two distinct species” — Allow your brand message to multiply. Create subsequent content around your core brand and products. Your brand will take on exponential lives.

4.  Gradualism “New species don’t occur suddenly. Rather evolutionary alterations happen with small incremental changes inside populations” —  Content distribution is not effective simply by getting it out there (except maybe here at mikepalma.com). Adapt it powerfully for each platform and channel. Drip it.

5.  Natural Selection “Evolution occurs due to differences between individual species’ therefore some variations provide improved chances for survival” —  Just as natural selection affects species competition, each piece of marketing content struggles for attention. Success is not about mass volume attention but about the most relevant content to the most relevant consumer. Create content that ensures that. Successful messages survive.

What you can learn from Holden Caulfield

By J.D. Salinger (written in 2009)

JD_SalingerWhile sauntering aimlessly up Madison Avenue one tepid autumnal afternoon, I could not help but think of my favorite protagonist and what he might think of the advertising industry. Holden Caulfield, the thinly veiled autobiographical character I created for “Catcher in the Rye” would have made a terrific copywriter. If you want to know the truth, he also would have made a great brand marketer, and I’m not kidding. I know what I’m talking about.

While strolling amidst these phony baloney ad execs at lunchtime, you think of all the phony messages and claims brands make and have always made: “Stronger than Dirt,” “Save Money, Live Better” (the poor Simpletons that believe that…), “Open Happiness” (me and Holden never much trusted happiness)…yeah sure. What a bastion of disingenuity this advertising game is.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s commercials. Don’t even mention them to me. The actors are phony. Holden would have written commercials that don’t rely on an actor’s talent. He would make the product and the benefit the star. He would have written honest commercials, like “We know you hate shaving, it’s a chore and time-consuming and boring. Our razor is not going to save your life, or make shaving more fun, or make you more handsome so you can have more silly girlfriends (most girls are so dumb and all)…but our razor is made right here in America and if you buy it,  you have a conscience and here’s why….” At least the company would communicate a mission and make a real emotional connection; not just an appeal to narcissism.1331226310

Holden was authentic, unlike most advertising today. It’s faked, like it’s a movie. Is there anything less authentic than this new “hidden camera” trick? However immature, Holden was true to his conscience and I know what I’m talking about.”

If you really want to hear about real creative advertising, here’s what Holden might tell you, and he’s not kidding:

  1. Be honest about your brand
  2. Be authentic
  3. Stop trying to impress everyone (know your target)
  4. Have a mission (beyond selling stuff)
  5. Communicate your mission with a humble swagger