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Creative Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

Winning hearts and minds: how to get buy-in on a creative brand strategy

By James Addlestone | Chief Strategy Officer

Journey Further

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April 26, 2023 | 8 min read

James Addlestone of performance brand agency Journey Further explains why brand marketing strategies often fail, and how to get senior leaders on-side for long-lasting creative campaigns.

3D render of glass head with red heart inside

The best creative campaigns are rarely born out of rational thinking, says Journey Furher's James Addlestone. / Niklas Liniger

Without strong change management, marketing strategists are effectively useless. And, in a fragile and volatile economic environment, we need to be able to win hearts and minds at pace.

As most historic innovation in science tells us, even the most stunning step-changes are often met with harsh skepticism (just look at the reaction to ChatGPT or VR).

From Galileo to Mendel, when wisdom is challenged with an idea that isn’t immediately intuitive, it can take decades for change to be accepted. And decades more for it to be adopted.

But marketing strategists don’t have decades. These days, we rarely have weeks. A strategy needs to be developed, tested, agreed upon by senior stakeholders, rolled out, measured, and tweaked within short timeframes. And if it doesn’t, it’s ditched.

I repeatedly see three reasons why marketing strategy fails to be agreed and rolled out effectively, even when the strategy itself is ‘right’:

  • Short-termism combined with over-agility

  • The gap between intuition and rationality

  • The gap between hearts and minds

Short-termism combined with over-agility

Short-termism is probably the biggest obstacle to meaningful change in individuals, businesses, governments, nations and the whole of humankind. It might sound dramatic, but when you break down the biggest challenges of today and ask yourself, “why is this happening” – from global warming to lack of planning for public health crises – short-termism is often the answer.

For businesses, short-term thinking propagated by short buying cycles can be further exacerbated by the rise of ‘agile’. Any activity with long-lasting effects that can’t instantly be measured suffers.

Successful marketing requires building and reinforcing memory structures of category buyers, to ideally be front of mind at the point of purchase. Prompting customers who already have the brand front of mind to purchase is both easier to measure – and easier to execute.

So, the success of the hare quickly draws further investment, while the tortoise is left to fend for itself. And in a world where daily trading reports, budget agility, and short-term experimentation are commonplace, the barriers to shifting budget away from brand growth into performance, are no longer there. Those beautiful constraints: gone.

So how can we help senior leaders do what’s right for the brand today, and tomorrow? The answer is two-fold.

Clarity on measurement across the board: what are the leading indicators of, say, memory (Romaniuk’s ‘Better Brand Health’ is a great place to start).

Locking in an untouchable budget: specify how much will be invested to create long-term effects, and agree to strict parameters before this budget is shifted based on the leading indicators above.

The gap between intuition and rationality

Art supported by science, creativity supported by data – it feels unoriginal. But the ramifications of working in a discipline that leans heavily on intuition supported by rationality (rather than vice versa) are often not thought through.

Attention-grabbing, memorable, resonant campaigns requiring significant budget are guided by intuition and creative brilliance, and rarely by rational thought processes. But chief financial officers (CFOs) and financial directors (FDs) are. Piecing together a business case for a brand-focused budget can be truly painful.

Bridging the gap requires the confidence to look externally for case studies to build the right business cases.

It requires the following framework:

We know from external research that shifting metric ‘a’ (say, prompted brand recall) will impact sales by £x.

We know from external research that shifting metric ‘b’ (say, memorability one week after seeing an ad) and ‘c’ (say, frequency) and ‘d’ (say, reach) tends to have this impact on metric ‘a’.

We know from internal testing and planning that our campaign will drive the following for ‘b’, ‘c’, and ‘d’, and therefore this impact on ‘a’.

Therefore, we can expect the following impact on sales, and the leading indicators this is working will be ‘e’, ‘f’, ‘g’.

Often it’s only by building powerful externally (i.e. from industry rather than internal data) validated assumption-led business cases can you win the minds of budget holders.

The gap between hearts and minds

Showing the impact of long-term brand investment on all aspects of the business, and persuading individuals that they will derive benefits from this activity is key. The sales team will find it easier to earn commission when the brand is top of mind. The performance marketing team will have lower CPAs. The finance team will have efficiencies all around, from procurement (who may be able to harness a stronger brand to lower costs) to lower long-term marketing costs, etc.

The role of a good marketing strategist – internal and external – is to help deliver the above, as much as to deliver step-changing direction and ideas. Without changing behavior internally, how can you influence behavior externally?

Creative Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

Content by The Drum Network member:

Journey Further

Journey Further is a performance brand agency based in Leeds, Manchester, London and New York.

Designed to deliver Clarity at Speed for the world’s leading brands and ambitious start-ups, the agency connects clients directly with a senior team, working in real-time and with complete transparency to deliver previously unthinkable results.

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