A WORD FROM MRS MADLEGS HERSELF (AKA REBECCA)
I must confess a fundamental flaw. I get attached to words and ideas. When passionate about a topic, I often overwrite. That's okay except when the task at hand is a new website—not a movie, not a novel, just a website. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Colleagues tried to reign me in. Then I stopped writing, consumed by another project, and resumed when I had time and wrote some more. Colleagues tried again to reign me in, insisting brevity was best and 'don't give it all away'. Before long, the content for the new MadLegs Media website looked like the inside of my brain (the disorganised side). Since I can’t bear the thought of deleting ideas, I had solution. Here's my plan b: Move some ideas into a separate section so I don’t lose my audience entirely. Brilliant. See, here I go again. Don't worry, I don't do this with my clients. With them, I'm concise and brutal. So here they are, my darlings, the bits I moved, in random order. Happy reading.
MADLEGS ON CONTENT
Stories are as basic to humankind as the quest for survival. Cave drawings were stories. The pyramids were stories. In our pack-like DNA, we are storytellers, compelled to share in an effort to connect. Brands forgot that basic need for a long time, stuffing the aforementioned keywords and getting lazy telling their target audience what they do and why they do it. But at last, trends have welcomed the return of our hero.
The term 'storytelling' has become the 'online' of the 90s, shouted by every brand and marketer ad nauseam or at least to the point of being pushed into the background out of boredom. We'll protect the word 'storytelling' as much as the stories themselves as we urge every brand and marketer out there to stop abusing this word. Just because you call it one thing doesn’t make it so.
Another word climbing the popularity chart along with storytelling and engagement, as it rightfully should since all three concepts must collaborate and cooperate to work, is authentic.
What does an authentic voice look like and sound like? It’s like having a long lunch with an old friend, it’s the thrill after running your first 12k, it’s your child’s graduation, it’s whatever moments in your life that are the most meaningful. Authentic makes your target audience connect with your brand, making them feel like you understand their unique needs and personality. It shifts the focus from the masses to personal.
Without an authentic voice to engage your customers and breakthrough noise, your sales and marketing efforts will be wasted, supporting our CONTENT IS KING contention.
MADLEGS ON BRAND
EMOTIONS IN BRAND
We talk a lot about the ‘wow’ because it’s more valuable than gold as it signals emotional engagement and the first hint of breaking through and shaping behaviour. No formula exists. The key to ‘wow’ is authenticity and innovation.
HOW TO BUILD A BRAND
There are many approaches to building a brand—each suitable for different situations—but the family approach works well for start-ups (and can be a fun ice-breaker with new clients). Think of it like this: Your brand is a person. Name it, describe it, give it a personality. That doesn’t mean your brand is only one person, it’s a starting point. Now give it a sibling, then a friend, then a partner. Add parents. Where would they go on holiday? How would they decide? What would be the highlight of the trip? Would they tell everyone about the holiday? Who and how? Answer those questions and you will understand your target audience and how to break-through.
VISUAL ELEMENTS OF A BRAND
Emotions are closely tied with visual, and visual with behaviour. Colours project feelings of calm, strength, excitement or anger. Faces either draw you in (feeling a connection) or turn you away (feeling misunderstood or even insulted). Typeface has similar powers. If the typeface is difficult to read, people become frustrated and move on. If it looks like every other corporate brochure, the words fade into a sea of mediocrity. Most of this is obvious, but shouldn't be taken for granted. Know your brand, competitive forces and your audience before selecting colour palettes, typefaces or imagery.
MADLEGS ON STRATEGY
Yet another buzz word over the last few years. Every brand was talking about ‘digital disruption’ (meaning the new technology customers were quickly adopting) to now they’re talking about ‘disruptive brands’. Connotations of the word 'disrupt' may be negative (think noise or trouble), but in brand terms, disruption celebrates the best in human ingenuity and strategic vision.
The concept of disruption is not new. Many of today’s global giants started by disrupting. Think of GE with Thomas Edison and the lightbulb. Today, we’re talking about Uber and AirBnB. Disruptors never happen overnight. They are always there, but many brands don’t know where to look or don’t believe they should bother to look. It's usually the small guy who captures attention and changes the conversation. It doesn’t happen by accident. It’s deliberate.
Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, defined “disruption” in The Innovator’s Dilemma. In short, a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served — a new-market disruption — or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product — a low-end disruption.
Anyone and any industry can be disrupted. We champion the challenge. We help disruptors disrupt.
The lessons we learn from disruption? Don't be complacent. Innovate or die. Thank your customers. Simple.
LITERAL THINKERS TAKE NOTICE
It’s easy to get lost in words and ideas, hypothesise about the future and let opportunities multiply to the point your business plans look like a map of the London Underground system (both old and new). The reasons for this tangled weave of what is, what could be and no limit scenarios are simple: 1. Creatives get excited about what ‘could be’ and sometimes let emotions rule. 2. Sales managers focus on their sales targets and become nervous to deviate from ‘what is’. 3. There are thousands of vehicles and tools to get your message out, making ‘no limit’ turn into overwhelming paralysis. The exercise starts innocently and fun, but rarely results in an actionable and measurable plan to meet your goals. We've been part of these exercises and know they don't belong in productive strategy building, so we'll keep the team focused and nudge in the right direction.
MADLEGS ON DIGITAL
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE DIGITAL
The rise of digital technology has changed the game forever (we know, we're stating the obvious here). How consumers interact with brands is fundamentally different, obliterating the once clean customer journey line from discovery to purchase. Just going 'digital' won't cut it. You need a brand, you need a plan and you need to engage your target audience.
With mobile phones undoubtedly the centre of one’s life, an extension of identity and a tool of convenience, brands both big and small had to shift their thinking and how they connected with their target audience. Of course many big brands failed to see the obvious future and then flayed about miserably trying to catch up while many small brands looked at mobile as their saviour and not only embraced it, but also set the terms and lead the way.
THE APPLE FACTOR
Apple created an expectation that every two years, an all-new, must-have, ground-breaking mobile phone is launched. Wise to commercially advantageous opportunities, mobile networks quickly followed Apple’s lead, offering customers upgrades every two years to capitalise on the Apple hunger craze and keep their customers loyal. That mentality has now seeped over to tablets and laptops. And so the cycle begins where want effortlessly becomes need. The need is created out of nothing but expectation and fancy marketing, which then accelerates consumer boredom, which then drives demand, which then creates a captive audience.
What’s even more artful about this need is looking at how large brands tap into it and influence behaviour months before the consumer has the first thought about a new tech gadget. Incredible and oh so brilliant.
Apple got it right. Introducing a new model every two years that promises the next generation technology — 80% of which we don't use, but it sounds cool — drives consumer behaviour. Of course we want the next best, shiny thing because technology has become an extension of our identity. Like fashion, we buy new with each season. To keep their customers happy, mobile phone carriers offer upgrades every two years. Now the pressure is on tablets to keep up too. Both Apple and Microsoft launch new tablets and laptops every two years too. And thus, the cycle continues.
MADLEGS ON BEING MADLEGS
STRENGTH IN COVERAGE
If it's specifics you want to understand and jargon you want to skip, then know that we cover everything from your brand personality to brand identity, from your content strategy to content creation, from your online reputation to online sales, from your digital campaigns to digital frontiers, from the first frame of your website to your entire story, and from your brand's first breath to its exit strategy. Our hands and our brains touch it all.
Our approach helps us see opportunities most miss while they are busily plotting Venn diagrams or getting lost in internet research, too tentative to act. Our approach is also different because we work on many elements at the same time. We know from experience that brands are living, breathing entities with a pulse. You can’t dissect into separate pieces without killing, so we take that holistic view. Sorry classically trained marketers. We were there once too, but the old models are too rigid and unresponsive. The four P's still exist and are critical — it's the tactics that have changed.