The anatomy of the big idea
Advertising agency. Marketing communications firm. These are the typical descriptions we’ve long assigned to our industry. Pretty dull, eh?
When you really think about our services – and the profound impact of our product – I prefer to think of SWBR as an Idea Company.
After all, that’s why our clients hire us. And ultimately, that’s the barometer of our success. We’re driven by clients that proclaim, “We’re looking for a big idea!” Sure, that’s a pressure-packed request, but it’s at the very heart of why we signed up for this business.
Robin Williams once said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” Think about that for a second and I’m sure you’ll agree with his view. The power of the idea is enormous.
The origin of the idea
The remarkable thing about ideation is that it can strike anytime. In the shower, while cutting the grass, even while sleeping. And the sheer adrenaline rush we get from one of these breakthrough thoughts is truly exhilarating.
Naturally, most people associate the idea with our creative department. Fair enough, as that’s essentially their day-in, day-out mission.
But big ideas are the ultimate goal for every member of our team. From the account executives and media planners to public relations experts and digital strategists. Every one of us has the knowledge, license and responsibility to think differently, to go beyond the expected and discover a unique solution to a client’s challenge.
I’ll always remember my first big idea in the business, while working in NYC as an account executive. I had sat down with my creative team to help them develop a second round of concepts to promote Continental Airlines’ new nonstop service from Houston to Paris.
After staring at a blank page for what seemed like an hour, it struck me. Let’s show a map of both the US and Europe. Then introduce a high, swooping line connecting Houston and Paris. The headline: Arc de Triomphe.
The client loved it (thankfully the creative team did too) and it became Continental’s theme for the new service.
A meaningful impact
So what’s the real benefit of a big idea? In the case of the above, it probably intrigued readers sufficiently that they lingered longer on the print ad. Perhaps enough that it led more folks than expected to remember and take advantage of this service.
In the case of a smart positioning idea, out-of-the-box media plan or brilliant public relations strategy, we expand the traditional barriers of communication to the point that we essentially over-deliver potential.
One of the challenges in the search for the Big Idea is knowing when you found it – versus when you might think you found it. Following the conception of a brilliant thought, there likely is some unfinished thinking or missing component that makes the idea good but not great.
That’s when you need to beat it up, discuss with others, and take it for a test drive. After all, too many seemingly smart solutions die because some key steps in the incubation process were skipped to rush forward. Smart ideas need to be polished so they shine brilliantly.
One of my favorite SWBR media ideas was our team’s recommendation to place ads on taco trucks that rolled up to construction sites every day. We were promoting a new Paslode tool and we wanted to reach Spanish-speaking roofers. The media concept was pure genius and the impact of that effort was as deep as it was cost-effective.
The source of inspiration
Without question, breakthrough ideation is most prevalent among those that are committed to discovery and navigation. Having a deep understanding of the product or challenge is essential to identifying an unexpected solution. Intellectual curiosity is a hallmark of those that typically think outside the normal construct of an idea.
Some of you may have read or know that SWBR is a deep believer in spending time with our client’s end-users. This process has been extraordinarily valuable for our associates as it enables us to get a deep understanding of customer’s needs, wants and desires – the ideal springboard to launching original, bold thinking.
For example, a few months ago our team on the Package Concierge account spoke with a number of property managers of upscale apartment buildings. Our goal was to personally understand their day-to-day responsibilities and goals related especially to the explosion of resident packages arriving every day. This greatly helped us in the crafting of authentic and meaningful messaging that will inspire and resonate with this discerning customer segment.
The old adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes still rings true. Problem-solving and idea generation flourish when we can visualize ourselves as the customer.
As long as there are new product launches, evolving customer dynamics and competitive threats, we’ll keep thinking about unexpected ways to grab attention and inspire action.
And while you can still call us an advertising agency or a marketing communications firm, we have a better idea.
If you’d like to explore a relationship with SWBR, then give me a call or contact us and we’ll get started right away on that next big idea.