Holistic, integrated campaigns can unlock creativity when centralized around a powerful idea, however the idea of integration can also cut off creativity—especially for digital channels– when taken too literally. In these cases, the digital executions are strictly aligned with the TV and print executions, which can limit possibilities.
Justin Cox from Periera & O’Dell, argues that the classic integrated campaign is a dying model, and that a brand doesn’t have to look the same everywhere —it just needs to feel the same. As long as all of the work is aligned with a common brand truth, then it can actually look different. He uses the Virgin brand as an example of a brand that is executing this well.
Cox explained his Seven Thoughts on Creating an Inconsistent Brand:
- Redefine Integration: Integration isn’t always beautiful – let the brand act in different ways as long as you are aligned to the brand values. All of the work should tie back to a common objective or common goal.
- Know what to expect from your product, but not from your brand: Products should be consistent—NOT the brand. The brand should be always surprising, always delighting consumers.
- Product Filter vs. Brand filter: Put the product at the center of everything you do, put the brand to the side.
- Define everything through consumer behavior: Stop thinking on the high-level segmentation level, and get very granular with insights based on behavior.
- Embrace technology: Utilize tech to facilitate the campaign in ways that are functional, all in support of the brand. One approach to this is to look at the campaign through the eyes of technology.
- Adopt a meme mentality: Be relevant in real-time. Be immediate. Respond to what’s going on in culture right away. What if we created memes out of all of our brand values. What if the brand responded to relevant, timely memes?
- Take a break from the single-minded message: A single-minded message doesn’t always work for truly integrated campaigns.
While Cox’s discussion of brands that work in this model mostly focused on brands that appeal to younger audiences, like Red Bull, much of this can also be applied to more mature brands as well. With so much innovation happening in the digital & social space, brands should not tie themselves to creating “digital advertising” that looks like the print.
Brands that do so are missing the opportunity to innovate and test ideas with their customers in real-time with current digital technologies and will be making themselves less relevant as more and more brands understand the importance of engaging always-on experiences that may not neatly fit into the standard integrated campaign model.