A Giant Reset Button Was Pressed This Year
By Andy Askren, a partner and creative director at Grady Britton — a values-based marketing agency in Portland OR
Without dwelling on the obvious causes, a giant reset button was pressed this past year. We can’t expect things to ever feel positively settled, but it does feel as though there is a collective cleaning-of-the-glasses moment — a coming to terms with what surrounds us right now. A renewal of values. This has big implications for marketing. It’s an opportunity for brands with Big Ideas to really shine.
The Big Idea has always been important in the client and agency partnership. Underneath the day-to-day and what is actually produced in the relationship, that Big Idea is what drives it all. It becomes what both entities are known for, to a certain extent.
But important “then” and important “now” are two different things. Now, living in post-COVID-normal times, the Big Idea carries even more weight. More… bigness.
Now is a second chance to make a first impression. Audiences not only have fresh eyes, they also have a curiosity for perspectives that make sense, feel real, solid, and believable — optimistic, hopeful — as a way forward. It’s curiosity bordering on craving.
With consumers in a heightened state of this awareness and openness, now is the time for brands to be the best version of themselves they possibly can be. And this is where agencies excel. It is in fact, what they are here to do for their clients. Delivering a potent combination of perspective, insight and craft, an agency is often more free to tap into quickly shifting audience mindsets and cultural trends and position a brand mindfully, authentically amidst that. To set a Big Idea loose.
Companies themselves have had to navigate the — let’s call it, Great Change — inside their own walls and come to terms with their own new footing. A perspective shift like this is a prime opportunity to reconsider what’s being put out into the world, marketingwise. Is it right for the times? Right for the long term? Is it authentic, believable? Is it even something an audience wants to hear right now? Are we using channels efficiently?
An agency routinely examines these factors for clients. But add to this mix the pressure of ever more scrutinized budgets, and the need for readily quantifiable sales, and it’s easy to see the appeal of not investing the time and energy on a Big Idea. “Maybe next year,” feels more convenient, certainly safer.
Only then, it will be harder.
Audiences will have new routines in place. Their attention will be elsewhere. New distractions will draw them away from a brand’s most valuable asset: its mission. The time is right, right now, not to lose that momentum.
A Big Idea is not only a bold, arresting, undeniable, new expression; it also offers a unique opportunity to consider new paths, new channels, new ways to use budget, to reach audiences that often turn out to be more efficient, more effective for the very transactions brands need — and the brand clients are out to build.
It’s never a bad time for a Big Idea. There’s just never been a better time than now.