3rd February 2012

Mind The Gap

From TheMarketer.co.uk, 3rd February 2012

By Mark Artus, CEO

The humble “Mind the Gap” warning, that prevents people from falling off trains, is fast becoming a far wider message. Whether we look at the gap between the “haves and have nots”, the educated and the uneducated, or the north/south property divide, the warning “mind the gap” seems to be constantly ringing in our ears.

So, how does this gap relate to the world of branding? In our business of branding and design, the gap that we face is between strategy (left brain thinking) and creativity (right brain thinking). As brands strive to stay competitive, it is easy to lose sight of the reason for a brand’s existence. This is where the hard questions come in: “how do we bridge the gap between the operations, sales and marketing teams, to ensure they are all working together with the same end goal in mind”?

Great research leads to great strategy but unless the great strategic vision actually makes something happen, it remains as just a good idea. Building brands is a complex process, and if a brand like Coke can get it wrong with their disastrous launch of “New Coke”, then anyone can!

To use New Coke as an example, in 1985, when Coca-Cola introduced “the new taste of Coca-Cola”, they found out the hard way the importance of staying true to the heart of their brand.

Despite the results of the taste tests being positive, the American public rebelled against the new formulation. A number of vocal Coke drinkers resented the change and felt that a company that marketed its products as “the real thing” had lost their identity and abandoned its roots. New Coke received over 400,000 calls and letters of complaint and Coca-Cola ended up reintroducing Coke’s original formula as “Classic Coke”.

The gap between creativity and strategy is a grey area because this is where the two most important parts of brand building must overlap. This is where New Coke went wrong: in their drive to be creative and refresh their product, they overlooked the strategy which makes Coke such a success – they didn’t mind the gap.

Minding the gap between strategic thought and creative output, is where the magic happens in brand building – it is where the hard questions are asked and answered and wrapped into a creative brief that will lead to a brilliant creative and commercially successful solution. It is as simple as the phrase “mind the gap” itself.

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