Monday, July 27, 2009

A caveman's guide to branding.

Most branding campaigns follow a time-tested architecture: an overarching brand idea, supported by individual attributes, all communicated within the context of an unifying creative idea.

And that's what intrigues me about Geico's brand campaign -- it is completely disintegrated. The insurer uses at least four distinct campaigns to land different proof points.

To be sure, Geico's overall goal is to position itself as a better value. Its USP has been unchanged for years: "15 minutes can save you 15% or more."

It uses the lovably cheeky gecko to communicate the overall value message.

It uses the caveman with a chip on his shoulder to to communicate ease and convenience.

It uses celebs right off the D-list to communicate its commitment to customer service.

And now it is using a leering pile of cash to communicate low price.

We've all seen campaigns with different spots in the mix (think McDonald's), or different campaigns tailored for specific media environments (think Nike in football vs. basketball vs. golf), or campaigns for different products within a portfolio (think Toyota Tundra vs Yaris).

But seldom do we see completely different campaigns in support of different support points.

Contrary to what one might expect -- i.e., a blurry cacophony of messages -- each of Geico's messages breaks through and stands on its own feet, is unified by a brand personality that is likable and humorous and, ultimately, supported by the 15% USP.

Is it working? I can only assume so, because Geico has pursued this model for years. We have to assume the graphs are heading in the right direction or they would have abandoned this funky model years ago.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Go Forth.

Wieden + Kennedy’s new campaign for Levis is stunning in its truth, its insight and its audacity.

The great brands are underpinned by an essential and enduring truth. By linking to the words of Walt Whitman and, on its new website, the United States Constitution, Levis has reconnected with the truth of its brand. Levis is America. And America has always been shaped by people with the courage and tenacity to dream and work towards a better tomorrow.

Its unique insight is in seeing the hollowness of most Millennial-targeted messages of hope and optimism, or perhaps more specifically, how bankrupt these messages must feel to Millennials in the current economy. Instead, “Go Forth” implies that hope and optimism are found by individuals who venture forward and work towards their dream. True of the framers of our Constitution. True of the gold miners in 1849 (the original denim crowd). True of Mr. Whitman. It must also be true of people today if we are to achieve our potential.

But the audacity, the brilliant audacity, to create a website in which citizens can co-create, edit and share their take on the Constitution is to be celebrated. It transforms the Constitution into a communal wall posting which, if you will momentarily suspend your judgment about that concept, is exactly what the Constitution needs to be: a living, shared, and debated document chronicling the will of the people.

Go forth indeed.