Branding in five acts

How do you win over people’s hearts and minds, and persuade them to buy into your brand? Our answer is Method Marketing, and it all starts with Planning.

Planning is nothing new. In fact, it’s nearly 50 years old. The big idea – devised by Stephen King and Stanley Pollitt – was to introduce a new agency discipline that would change the focus from purely creative, strategic work, to creative and strategic work based on customer insight. It’s a simple concept – get to the heart of the problem before doing anything else. But unbelievably, in the main, this still doesn’t happen.

We’ve been passionate about Planning for years. Indeed, we were the first to offer it in the North of England when we launched our Discovery process in 2001. But Planning is still very much a ‘creative industry’ concept. It is grounded in advertising, yet its advantages aren’t restricted to creative work – there is a much wider business benefit. In a post-Brexit, rapidly changing world, businesses need strategic direction more than ever before. So we resolved to find a way to bring this powerful idea to life outside our industry, which was when we realised that the answer lies on the stage.

Method actors deliver honest performances because they immerse themselves in the lives of their characters. They spend months living the part, gaining a rich context of the world in which their character lives, and having experiences that enable them to deliver a natural, realistic performance. Some of our best living actors apply ‘The Method’, including Daniel Day-Lewis, Robert De Niro, Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio, who, among many others, believe the only way to represent a character is to embrace and live it to the full.

We take the same approach at Propaganda, and it has consistently delivered transformative business results for our clients. So, how do we apply the Method and how could it work for you?

Act 1: Set the scene

To give advice, you have to get to know a business, warts and all. We ‘set up camp’ in our clients’ businesses and spend time understanding how their business works, what they do, who they are and what their opportunities and challenges are. We also put the market under the microscope, looking at trends to pinpoint areas of growth. And we review competitor brands so we can be clear on what exists and where the gaps in the market are.

Act 2: Speak to cast and crew

A brand is the sum of a business – it doesn’t just exist in the marketing department. It is critical to include people at all levels, from the CEO to the person answering the phone or driving the delivery lorry. To create a brand that everyone can deliver, we need to know what the business stands for from the grass roots up.

Act 3: Check the production

Even if a company has the best product in the world, if their distribution is poor they have a problem. So we need to understand the logistics of a business – how each department functions and how the business works with partners. So if there are any weak spots, we can identify and resolve them with recommendations that we know the business can deliver.

Act 4: Ask the audience

We speak to a range of people – from the fans of a business, to its critics. This is about finding out what people think and what their needs and concerns are. Brands should make an emotional impact, so it’s important to discover how they are making people feel and why.

Act 5: Give direction

We bring objectivity and a wider market perspective to our clients’ businesses. We turn everything we have learnt into clear, creative and strategic recommendations, with the aim of moving the business from where it is now, to where it wants to be.

That’s our Method. We spend months living in the world of our clients and their customers, understanding their ambitions, their challenges, what makes them unique, what they want and what they don’t. Then we translate it into work that resonates.

Method Actors ‘turn truth into drama’. We turn truth into business results.

By Cynthia Bell