In the golden age of advertising, things were different. Clients showed up with tons of money to spend on paid advertising. Well-groomed men in suits would charge the client for hours spent sipping scotch, smoking cigarettes and talking about the affair they wish they were having.
Then, there would be the client pitch meeting. And the agency would win or lose based on how well they could dazzle someone with their creative minds – usually a print ad or television spot would lead the discussion.
The good old days.
Most agency folks think that those days are all but gone. Traditional advertising campaigns and other printed collateral pieces are not the cornerstone of marketing any longer. Now there are lots of ways that brands can tell their stories.
However, I would argue that there is an underestimated value in what can happen when tangible marketing collateral is at the forefront of a branding effort. There is something to that Mad Men approach of rolling out a piece of creative work.
Luckily for us, we recently had a small taste of the Mad Men approach. True North Management Company, LLC is a telecommunications contractor in St. Louis. They have been experiencing rapid growth which they attribute to their focus on company culture. The leadership has made their company into a welcoming place for veterans and reservists. They look out for each other. They have each other’s backs, and they are hyper-focused on results.
Over the course of weeks, we worked with them on their brand, key messages and unique selling proposition. But then it came time for making all those great ideas tangible. That was when I was brought into the project.
When it comes to creating a great collateral piece, it is important to respect the delicate balance that marries the key messaging with a visual image and creates a deep, emotional impact on the audience you are trying to reach.
Previous to this project, True North did not yet have many visual representations of their brand. After looking over the branding documents and learning more about who these men are, what their business really is, the purpose of the piece – I was able to get a picture of how I saw them being represented. I drafted a brochure mock up that I felt spoke to who they are and what they want to represent to their customers.
I chose a strong male image on the cover that delivered a message of confidence and knowledge that gets jobs done as well as pulling in a more subliminal drive element of their logo. I chose accent colors to be used throughout the piece that would serve to highlight their values and work ethic and give visual appeal.
What happened next was a Mad Men moment for sure. Our vision for the brochure inspired the leadership at True North to embrace their brand message on a deeper level, and it created energy around what was possible and where their brand can go.
What could be viewed as another collateral piece became a launching point into deeper marketing questions and actions.
The brochure is a clean, contemporary piece that speaks to the company’s strengths and embodies who this company is, their mission and their personal attitudes. True North also invested in custom photography with Bill Sawalich.
Sometimes the best inspiration for where a company’s brand can go comes from an unlikely place. But the value of collateral – brochures, ads, displays – is that you get the opportunity to take all your brilliant ideas of about your brand and make them tactile. That is branding you can feel, touch and experience.