Go into any brand agency creative session and pretty soon you’re likely to hear the question, ‘What’s the big idea?’ — often followed by head-scratching and an emergency call for caffeine.
But ‘What’s the big idea?’ is, appropriately, the biggest question of any brand campaign.
Answering it means finding a single, strong idea to underpin the entire campaign. An idea that makes the work memorable, consistent, targeted and easy to understand. And, of course, successful.
At least that’s the theory.
Not that a big idea guarantees success, but without one, your results are likely to be haphazard and untargeted — a case where positive outcomes are driven by luck rather than planning.
So if the Big IdeaTM is vital for marketing campaigns, the question is: should your brand have one, too?
A big idea for your brand
Imagine if every applicant, colleague and customer could understand your brand from a single sentence or one 30-second ad.
Almost immediately, they’d know if you were a brand worth investigating, if your values matched theirs and if you were worth spending money on. This is the power of a big idea — it makes you identifiable, convincing and likeable to your target market.
Likeability is a simple yet often overlooked trait of all successful brands, and it stems from conveying a singular central narrative that runs throughout the business.
Nike’s ‘Just do it’ isn’t just a slogan. It’s a gauntlet-throwing challenge to its customers. It’s a motivational rallying cry for its colleagues. It’s a brand guideline for its creative partners. It’s a summation of the entire business. And it’s only three little words.
Which makes it one heck of a big idea.
How do you find yours?
If big ideas work for brands as well as creative campaigns, how do you go about finding yours? Well, the world of marketing has no shortage of options.
Missions, visions, value propositions, finding your why and brand archetypes are the facets of brand articulation. At Woven, we craft all the above in service of one thing: uncovering the essence of what you stand for so we can get to your brand’s big idea.
For Feed Me Seymour — an ambitious start-up that sends Michelin Star-quality food tailored to your personal health requirements directly to your desk — our big idea was literally ‘DNA’: Delicious. Nutritious. Accessible.
From these three words, Feed Me Seymour will build their brand around gastronomic imagery, personalised nutrition and a pricing model that makes their product as accessible as possible.
This big idea was supported by giving Feed Me Seymour a brand archetype — a personality type that inspires the brand’s values and marketing communications and that makes them easily identifiable and relatable to their target audience. For example, Paddy Power is a Joker archetype (irreverent, chatty, silly), while Rolls Royce is a Ruler (confident, responsible, trusted).
A brand archetype helps businesses tell their stories in clearer, more single-minded ways, making them more identifiable and appealing to those who share the same values and perspectives.
We gave Seymour ‘The Explorer’ archetype to position them as a brand that champions freedom and adventure — so they can align with and appeal to those who want the same things out of life.
Big ideas are born from strategy
We opened up this piece from the perspective of a creative session — but, if done properly, a brand’s big idea is born long before such sessions take place (even if it hasn’t yet been properly articulated yet).
At Woven, big ideas are the result of taking the time to truly understand our clients — their ambitions and challenges, their audiences, and any competitor and industry insights that may influence achieving their goals. This is what a brand’s core strategy, narrative and creative output stems from.
Finding your brand’s big idea involves researchers, strategists and creatives. It involves self-reflection, workshops, interviews with your colleagues. It involves getting on the psychologist’s chaise longue and working out why you exist — and what your customers need from you.
The big ideas, after all, stem from asking yourself the big questions.
And the end result? It only has to be a few words. Sure, they’re backed up by reasoning and research and strategy, all that good stuff — but the actual thing is often just a few scant syllables. Barely even a sentence.
But it’s your brand’s big idea — and it’s priceless.
Finally, how do you tell your big brand idea?
One reason why it’s priceless is because it lets you do that ever-so-buzzwordy thing, ‘storytelling’.
As your strategic and creative guiding star, your big idea acts like a film’s director or orchestra’s conductor, focusing and funneling your thoughts and efforts into a singular — and therefore memorable — brand identity.
The alternative is a scattergun approach of random ideas, semiotics and messaging that leaves audiences confused or, worse, uncaring.
Armed with a big idea, you can convey a coherent brand message across any asset. One that speaks loud and clear to your demographic, one that represents what you stand for, and one that can be summed up in just a few words.
It’s not easy. It takes time, collaboration and introspection. But finding your big idea might be the best branding move you ever make.
Going big starts with a small step
If you want to find — and tell — your big idea, get in touch to organise a free brand archetype workshop with our strategy team.