In a marketplace awash with product offerings, product extensions, and product parity, brands today must know exactly what they are and how they add value for consumers. Until brands recognize precisely where their most valued strengths lie, they can’t determine their mission. And these days, a brand without a mission is a short term investment (Pat Boone’s metal album anyone?).
This may seem incredibly basic, but it’s not. Today’s world changes with dizzying speed, forcing brands to respond quickly and intelligently, and that’s an inordinately difficult task. Frankly, most brands are not prepared to constructively and objectively criticize themselves.
Back in the early 80’s, a few years after long-reigning metal pioneers Led Zeppelin broke up, their lead singer Robert Plant began the first of his post Zeppelin musical projects. Understandably anxious to be starting over after years of multi-platinum success, he spoke of being lost and fumbling for his identity now that drummer John Bonham was dead and he was no longer playing with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. But he related how a friend clarified everything for him by saying “Robert–you’ve always been more of a blues singer than a rock singer.” That simple definition helped him launch a vibrant post-Zeppelin career that includes solo work, the Honeydrippers, Afro Celt Sound System and most recently, collaborations with bluegrass star Alison Krauss.
At Element 79, we were forced to learn a bit about self definition ourselves. For years we were simply ‘the Gatorade agency’ but a new Pepsi regime hellbent on massive change pulled that and all of their other accounts from us a little over year ago. That one stunning move cost us our easy identity and yet it ultimately gave us the necessary impetus to step back, reassess, and define what we truly are, what we can offer potential clients, and how we can continue to bring value in a changing marketplace.
We have a long, proud legacy of excellence in television creativity and production ( stuff like this, this, and the second one here). And while some reactionary Chicken Little’s may believe television is dead, we recognize it’s merely diversified. Telling a story with moving pictures happens on PC’s and cell phones, in games, virals, and user generated content. So we remain committed to that strength, but have intentionally evolved with a mind to develop new capabilities in idea centricity and platform agnosticism. We have forced creative convergence with an intensity we never would have had we not faced this disruptive loss. And in many ways, we are stronger for it.
We still face the challenges of the recession, but we already began addressing them a year ago when all that business walked out the door. As odd as it sounds, we actually had a head start which gives us a leg up in addressing these challenges.
Because today, more than any time in our seven year history, we know who we are, what we offer, and what our mission must be: to help define and then advance our clients’ missions.
And that’s a pretty cool job.