Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Integration is not the answer or even the question

I have always thought an obsession with integration from a brand owner is a good indicator that their brand lacks salience and personality.
The word integration encourages us to think in terms of events and campaigns. When mathematicians talk integration, it is often in relation to time. And that is the main point. The best integration is something you do over time. It is a brand rather than a campaign thing.

We tend to integrate campaigns for all the wrong reasons – safety rather than the conviction that dovetailing messages or replication of a message in different media somehow communicates better. A fear of failing rather than a desire to just do it better. Everyone understands and learns better if they are exposed to different stimuli, whether it is learning to ski or speak Spanish. Too often we forget, conveniently, the basic virtues of different media – TV (one message to the masses), Direct Mail (tells a longer story to people we think are more interested), Poster (presence and stature), Digital (depth of engagement).
The most powerful communications display brand connectivity. The tone, style and flavour of the brand are consistent and shine through. It is a brand conversation. It is how you do it. Not what you do or say that’s important; More brand essence than brand values. I still think the best example is Honda. The integrational device is the brand. In every communication they demonstrate the ‘maverick obsession’ that lies at the heart of the brand. They have been consistent over several years now.

So perhaps we should stop fussing about integration and talk about brand consistency. This allows you to ignore a medium if it is not working/required for a particular campaign. You’ll talk again, there is always next time. The brand becomes more important than the proposition. We should carry on using integrational devices, but call them integrational devices not integration. They are tools rather than philosophies.
So when clients create cross discipline briefs the two most important elements are – the brand what it looks like, what it feels like, what it sounds like, how it does things and the integrational devices. So in the case of Coco Pops - and i am paraphrasing someone else here - its chocolatey breakfast fun for kids ... and don't forget the chimp.

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United Kingdom
Just curious about marketing, psychology, economics, business, irrational behaviour, people, models, communications, advertising, market imperfections, b2b marketing. I work in the marketing communications industry for OgilvyOne.