Creativity is about micro-moments and not necessarily big ideas. There needs to be a red line running through, but a three-word tweet can now break the internet." Speaking at the recent Campaign dinner debate co-hosted by Nominet, the official registry for .UK domain names, Russ Lidstone, chief executive of The Creative Engagement Group, believes brands have better tools than ever to help them understand consumers, and the answer to a creative issue is not always a TV commercial.
Agencies are still working on how to best break into those moments. Siloed clients, who put a hard line between online and offline, don’t help, and consumers don’t even see a line. Meanwhile, clients are totally confused, says Melissa Vodegel Matzen, managing director of Twelve. "Agencies are doing themselves no favours when they make things too complicated for clients to explain to their bosses."
Jane Asscher, chief executive of 23red, says agencies should follow suit. "There needs to be a join-up between technology and creativity. We created work on organ donation using Tinder, and the creative idea came out of that technology."
However, there must also be an acceptance that technology such as programmatic and automation introduces risk, according to Sarah De Martin, managing director at Artefact. "There needs to be constant monitoring and a human overlay."
As the digital landscape changes further, "people need to understand how much they need to own their brand online", warns Nominet business development manager Michael Twist. By opting for a .brand domain name, "brands have the opportunity to own their online presence, to be more creative and secure, and to differentiate themselves from their competitors," Steve Coaker, the company’s head of sales and account management, adds.
Massage the process
Ironically, it can be harder to action micro-ideas, as they may be presented to more timid junior staff, says Darren Savage, chief strategy officer at Tribal Worldwide. Clients have to get their own internal stakeholders to understand what the brand is trying to achieve, and use process innovation to let ideas flow. Lynx’s newsjacking of Britney Spears’ one-day marriage with a "The 24-hour Lynx effect" ad was enabled by a client arrangement to fast-track quick turnaround ideas.
Greggs is one brand that demonstrates a willingness to try things and not fear failure, according to Rachel Hatton, chief strategy officer at Oliver Group UK. "They’re on a tightrope and sometimes they’re on the right side and sometimes not. The boss embodies the brand and gives everyone confidence."
Team with tech
Technology has gone from its own niche to being a utility for all. Brands that are useful, informative and entertaining can weave themselves into consumers’ lives. The Apple Watch is the first device approved by the US FDA. In travel, easyJet’s Look and Book enables travellers to book a flight via photos on Instagram. Fintech brands like Revolut and Transferwise have adopted a fully digital approach where disruption is part of the DNA.
Free the creatives
No advertiser wants to be the next to be monstered by the Daily Mail, but they can be overanxious, says Kathy Dover, director of client services at influencer agency Billion Dollar Boy. "Clients try to make an ad out of everything rather than accepting that it’s part of a puzzle. You need to give influencers their heads."
Aoife Murphy, senior digital strategist at agency Boys and Girls, says it holds creative covenant workshops with clients. "Everyone agrees what we’re trying to achieve and it’s printed and put on the wall as a reminder of what all creative output should look like."
There’s a shift in what creativity means, notes Iain Sawbridge, chief content and digital officer at Beano Studios. "It is now about curiosity and asking the right questions."
Collaborate like crazy
No one is an island in the digital world. It’s not just agencies of different stripe that should collaborate, the agencies agree. Great ideas come from unholy alliances that would once have seemed bizarre – and non-agency people ask different questions that can provide some of the most powerful breakthroughs. Don’t forget what the brand objective is, says Dover. "You don’t have to tick every box. Know what you need to do and do it with integrity in the best channels."
A space of your own
In today’s crowded market, it’s harder than ever for brands to stand out, and controlling communications and providing online customer security are growing concerns.
With the next wave of dot brand (.brand) domain names due to come to market in the next two years, brands have an opportunity to increase brand awareness, secure their online space, and build speed and flexibility into their marketing, service and product portfolios.
Many trusted global brands have already adopted .brand strategies, including Google, Hyatt, Shell, BBC, and Gucci. By owning a .brand domain name, an organisation controls its own digital ecosystem, helping build trust and authenticity, customer service, enhanced data capture, and marketing efficiency. As one of the world’s largest domain name registries, Nominet can advise brands on how to take advantage of .brand domain.
Nominet is currently running an awareness campaign about .brand through workshops with agencies across the country. To express your interest in attending one, visit here.