By Alan Graner
The following is adapted from What’s the Big Idea? by George Lois with Bill Pitts (1991).
Great advertising should have the impact of a punch in the mouth. It should unhinge your nervous system. It should knock you out!
This can only be accomplished if your advertising is based on one great idea.
Developing the big idea
Begin by reducing your marketing problem into one simple sentence.
- For FedEx that sentence was we guarantee overnight delivery worldwide. Their ad: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
- Apple’s sentence was we create technology that changes the world. Their ad: Think Different.
Logical thinking leads to boring advertising.
Logic handcuffs creativity. To develop a big idea you must find a surprisingly creative solution. For example:
The logical, rational solution for tourism to Greece was: Tell the world it’s safe to travel to Greece.
The surprising solution was: Show famous Americans of non-Greek lineage traveling to Greece, unconcerned about terrorism because they are responding to that deep emotional attraction of Greece as the cradle of Western civilization.
Just say no to conventional ideas
The solution to each new marketing challenge should begin with an open mind, not by borrowing what’s been done in the past.
Say NO to conventional rules, traditions and trends. If others are moving in the same direction, find a new direction—one that defies trends and isn’t constrained by precedents.
Deliver a knockout punch
A great idea compresses everything into one knockout punch. It creates an indelible image but, ironically, a big idea isn’t based on images. Rather, it’s constructed from three to five words that express your big idea.
The right words focus the market’s attention on your brand by communicating a powerful, attractive big idea. That idea about your brand helps build front-of-mind, unaided awareness. The right words that communicate this unexpected idea give your brand a vitality and a freshness that continues long after the advertising campaign ends.
How do you get your big ideas?
Alan Graner is Chief Creative Officer at Daly-Swartz Public Relations, an Orange County, CA business public relations and marketing content firm. For content that makes you stand out from the crowd, email Jeffrey Swartz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.dsprel.com.