Why are we here?
The first 9 articles on the Stack Blog and Newsletter have largely focused on process. We’re trying something new with Stack, and part of that is our willingness to openly share our hypotheses and processes.
But for the 10th one, I want to shift the focus in a new direction, because we’ve largely skipped over what agencies are actually here to do: move people.
We exist to elicit one or several emotions that drive human activity and behaviour at any part of the customer journey. As Dan Wieden said in the fun and fascinating documentary on advertising, Art & Copy, “Move me, dude.”
If 95% of what goes into building a business is centered on product, operations, sales, process, and team, then that leaves only the last 5% to focus on creative, marketing, or brand. But that 5% is the lever that can most dramatically impact everything else.
So much of the “10X” conversation is centred on habits, practices, and thinking— but concepts, ideas, and emotions are the forces that drive those tactics. On an individual level, if you truly don’t want to accomplish something, it doesn’t really matter how structured your approach is, and this scales up to the company level too.
If your brand doesn’t stand for much, it doesn’t matter how well coded your website is.
Your back-of-the-house operations might be optimized to a tee, but if old customers are leaving as often as new ones come in the front door, there won’t be much to optimize for very long.
Your website’s analytics might be housed in the clearest dashboard imaginable, but if you’re spending all your energy optimizing current content, you’ll miss out on the larger opportunities beyond what’s already there.
To borrow from Eisenhower’s quip on planning, marketing is simply a vertical, but the practice of marketing can do far more to impact a company’s success than just generating leads and customers. The functions of art direction, copywriting, and design are simply the tools, but the things you can build with those tools are profound and limitless.
Wit. Seriousness. Humour. Sincerity. Fun. Security. Limits. Freedom. Serenity. Joy. Sadness. Clarity.
These, and countless other, emotions and concepts are the raw materials that 10X the impact of whatever it is that you’re working on, selling, operationalizing, or promoting.
Whether we’re talking about a tangible emotion that we want someone to feel when they see an ad, or whether we’re simply aiming for an emotional state for them to feel when they use your product, isn’t the point. The point is that people don’t buy logic, and they don’t stick around because of it either.
If you were to build an internal corporate web application that is simple, easy to use, and functional, it should lead to productivity gains — and those productivity gains should hopefully fulfill whatever business goals you set. But it only stands a chance of beneficial long-term adoption if it makes your staff feel more in control and more fulfilled in their day-to-day responsibilities. A consistent, strong emotional resonance is what eventually defines the success of a product, platform or brand, not the technical aspects.
Advertising gets a bad rap for covering over the warts of a product or service. But what the advertising profession nailed was the idea that a product feature is only as good as its benefit — and its benefit is only as good as the way you tell people about it.
This is why creativity matters: not in recklessly re-imagining how to run a business, or just slapping a coat of paint on a set of product feature bullet-points — but in putting thoughts, words, pictures to what makes your business tick.
And that is why we call ourselves a creative agency, because that’s our north star: helping a business out through creative impact.
Sure, we focus on efficient delivery of work, a clear process, proper checkpoints, and the million and one other functional tasks that keep everything running.
But that’s not why we’re here.
And if we dig deep enough, I’m sure that the specific widget your business sells is not why you’re here either — but something that lays just beneath the surface.
Let’s tell that story.