Brand embodiment will transform the way you strategise

Agencies that can achieve full brand embodiment when acting as extensions of their clients team will deliver exceptional strategies and thus strengthen the client-agency relationship.

However, marketers often overlook the foundational aspects before developing strategies for their clients, writes Clarissa Harris.

It’s no surprise that the last 12 months of economic uncertainty coupled with brands relooking marketing spends for better or for worse, has resulted in strong competition as marketers battle it out in tender. Which is why when you do score a win, marketers must first prioritise embodying their client’s brand if they want to produce a groundbreaking strategy.

The secret to every good relationship is a strong foundation. However, brand introductions are far too often glanced over in the name of rushed deliverables and need-it-done-yesterday deadlines.

In order to set your client up with a strategy for long-term success and an equally rewarding retainer, marketers must challenge the status quo when it comes to client onboarding. So, what does that look like exactly?

Be inducted into your client’s business just as any other team member.

Set aside time for a thorough induction using the same internal documents, processes and systems a new team member would be provided with. Take it back to basics by learning about the brand’s origin story, mission, vision and values. Absorb everything ever documented to have a good understanding of what worked and didn’t work. You’d be surprised how many good ideas never make it to fruition, or the opposite – how many bad ideas did and weren’t examined.

Be sure to look beyond communications too. The way people do business is etched into their operations. Here is where you may find your client’s trouble points. Take some time to meet with the broader team and stakeholders. Read into the nuances and let this deep background work set up a solid base for your strategy. It is here where the true tone of voice can start to reveal itself before even flexing a creative muscle.

Experience the brand the same way as a consumer.

There’s something beneath the layer of the hazy line – ‘experience the experience’. Whether that be a product or service, I’m a big believer that everyone involved on an account must have engaged with the brand’s product or service before commencing work. To sit down at a client’s venue and sample a menu, walk through a showroom and try on a collection or test drive their newest car – this is where you’ll form original ideas that break new ground.

You cannot expect creatives to freely think about a brand and bring their most innovative thoughts if you do not provide an opportunity to experience it for themselves. We create bespoke moments for the media and VIPs at famils – so why not for the people most intimate with a brand? Give your team the chance to build their memory bank. This will put you in touch with who you’re trying to reach intuitively.

Say your client’s key messages in more ways than one.

Taglines, mission statements and slogans are effective in the right context but can you articulate them in more ways than one? Can you sit down with someone who knows absolutely nothing about the brand and break down these messages in simple terms? Flash one liners are a marketer’s dream but are also mere jargon unless you can expand on what those words truly mean.

Now onto your final challenge. Pick three completely different personalities you know in your world. Write their names down and think, ‘Am I able to explain what this brand is about effectively?’ When you can do that, you’ve reached the full brand embodiment. From here your infinite brand knowledge will filter out any creative doubt and you’ll deliver an exceptionally more insightful and imaginative strategy.

Clarissa Harris is the managing director at True Tribe, where she has created numerous strategies for companies including Lion, Vue Group, and Marriott.


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