The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Forget Taking A Position, Give Me A Point Of View …

One of adlands favourite things is the ‘positioning statement’.

A statement that informs where a brand fits within its category.

It’s been a successful way to do things for decades and many brands continue to embrace to this day.

But it’s limiting.

It stops a brand from having a bigger role in culture.

It leads to those painful annual ‘brand relaunch’ campaigns.

It can become out-of-date in the blink of an eye.

It is for this reason I’ve always believed in the importance of a brand ‘point of view’.

A point of view transcends the category rules.

A point of view can adapt and flow with the times.

A point of view lets creativity flow, not be stifled.

Of course, to do this, you have to start with knowing who you are, who you want to be and what you stand for … but in my experience, expressing this as a point of view means you can make work that resonates with culture rather than tries to be relevant to it.

For those who don’t think resonance vs relevance is a big difference, I would say you’re missing a valuable shift in culture.

With so many brands talking at culture or making innovation that they want them to like rather than what they want, a brand that shows it truly gets it’s audience is more differentiated than any amount of brands who spend all their time trying to create a widget no other brand has, but no person actually wants.

42 Comments so far
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You’re on fire this week.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes to this post.

Comment by Pete

Yes he has. I’m not sure what has got in to him.

Comment by George

someone else is writing his fucking posts, thats whats got into him.

Comment by andy@cynic

They’re doing well aren’t they. I’m impressed.

Comment by Rob

Timely post Robert. I recently was sent a creative brief by someone working for an agency that won’t be named. They were still using a proposition statement and while it was quite good, the whole thing felt dated from the start. It may appear a very small difference and some creative teams may not like it, but the effect on the output in the correct hands is huge. I’m glad you wrote this.

Comment by George

why the fuck did you write such a fucking big response? who the fuck do you think is going to read it. so much for you knowing how people do shit these days.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yep … still shocked at how many planners and creatives don’t get it or can’t work with it.

Comment by Rob

the reason some fuckers dont like it is it makes planners need to think about what they doing from a creative perspective and makes shit creatives fucking think about doing something bigger.

Comment by andy@cynic

Positioning is all about attributes and what you’re making/selling while point of view is about emotion and how you sell it?

Comment by John

That’s a good way to define the difference but not always the case. At least from a positioning perspective.

Comment by George

youre just jealous doddsy fucking knocked it out the park. sure its a small kids park, but deal with it.

Comment by andy@cynic

To be fair George, it’s a pretty good articulation of the differences. I know there’s exceptions, but it’s pretty on the nose.

Comment by Rob

This would have nothing to do with you trying to justify you have a point of view on everything, would it?

Comment by DH

Me? Never …

Comment by Rob

Didn’t you once say that if a brand doesn’t have a point of view, it doesn’t have a hope?

Comment by Wayne Green

My point of view is it’s all bolliocks.

Comment by Billy Whizz

south fucking korea.

Comment by andy@cynic

I know. They’ve done a World Cup brexit … or germexit as it will now be known. Incredible.

Comment by Rob

What a result.

Comment by George

Yes, yes, yes

Comment by Northern

My one and only experience judging international awards, courtesy of Rob pulling a few strings, created not only the fortune of spending a week with Fred and playing tennis against his viking prowess, but also meeting Paul Josy from BBDO India.
His ‘acts not ads’ view was really, really good and echoes many of the points here

Comment by Northern

This musing is relevant to branding in music as well. I find it interesting that while the use of genre to categorize the brands of individual artists is a thoroughly entrenched tool of efficiency, the reality of the situation now has deviated away from the branding associated with the hyper-efficient philosophy of production characterizing the 20th century. The fruit of the Information Age is transformation of the entire creative environment into a web of fast, seemingly chaotic idea-space, where hybridization has exhausted our capacity to lump the sheer supply of brands into manageable units meeting relevancy requirements still upheld on the demand side of the industry. This is not to say that industry is not adapting. In fact, we hear more and more the use of resonance as a more adept tool of measuring the altered expectations of music consumers that have become so as a result of changes to the supply side. It will be interesting to see the two sides’ continuing adjustment to one another, and the resulting recreation of the genre models that are approaching obsolescence.

Comment by Brian West

Music consumers? You need to sit down and have a good hard look at yourself.

Comment by John

Hi John? I’m not sure I understand your comment. You weren’t drunk when you posted by any chance? Can you clarify what you’re trying to say?

Comment by Brian West

i don’t know what doddsy is saying either but it still makes more fucking sense than your comment. you could be on the wrong blog or you could be throwing in a bunch of big words together and hoping it makes sense. let me tell you it fucking doesnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

Okay, that I can understand. Guess I’ll tone it down for LinkinIn? Based on the running commentary on the original post, with its litany of F-bombs and outright disrespect, it may be a waste of time to post anything here for the angry people to get latched onto. Because that’s another major change in the world these days. There’s no filter. All opinions get a share of air time. Enjoy your dissatisfaction with life and intelligence generally, sir. You’re kind may be at the wheel right now, but the pendulum swings.

Comment by Brian West

im not fucking angry. this is me happy.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hey Brian, thanks for the comment and I’m sorry you feel abused by some of the commentators. I would say that if you look throughout this blog, there is always healthy challenging and good natured abuse, though I also appreciate if you’re new to it, it can seem personal and confronting.

That aside, I’m not sure I get what you’re saying about music and the music industry. I am doing a long-term project with a famous rock band, so I’d love to have a better understanding what you’re saying if you feel OK to do that.

Totally understand if you don’t.

Comment by Rob

Hi Rob – I’ve had talks with musicians over the last few years who have a hard time identifying with the standard genres that they have to try and select in order to brand their music on platforms like CD Baby, as an example. And CD Baby has a ton of genre and sub-genre options. Nielsen Sound Registry, on the other hand, does not. On SoundCloud, one can craft one’s own hashtags, but the fact is, people still are more likely to find music using the genre hashtags they know.

Industries such as film and TV also tend to set listings for submissions based on a pretty limited set of genres. You won’t find “mixed” very often as a genre category – but more and more of today’s musicians are absolutely mixed as far as genre. The result is you have a huge supply of music that runs up against a lack of lanes to peg to when getting the music to an end-user.

Brand is everything to a musician. The reason I like your musing is that for the increasing number of musicians putting out music that straddles two or more categories of influence, we are struggling to position and place our music in a way that maximizes the efficiency with which we try to market ourselves. If I instead look to market my music from the point-of-view I’m expressing – in my case, the point-of-view is making lemonade from lemons in these trying times – branding myself becomes easier.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sure how the industry gets away from the standard genre set, or how a new system of music identification would even look. I, too, am musing. My apologies if I didn’t fill in the lines real well, and maybe I still haven’t. But I made assumptions about the audience for a thread like yours. I won’t make that assumption again. Thanks for shedding some light and helping me make a clearer point-of-view! 😀

Comment by Brian West

fucking showoff campbell.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks Brian – for both your understanding and explanation.

I think the situation you describe is has 2 implications coming out of it for musicians.

1. If a musician cares about what genre they write to – or are defined by – then they probably are approaching their craft with a view on profit rather than expression. While that’s fine, it does imply they are chasing an audience rather than attracting which makes success even harder for them.

2. When I worked with Spotify, we discovered many people no longer define music in terms of the genres we use … preferring to express it in via mood or feelings … so this means musicians who are focusing on writing or defining by genre, are never going to connect to a new audience, especially if they are trying to establish themselves.

Could be wrong, but that’s the perspective I have on both having been a musician [albeit in the session guitarist world] and working with musicians and Spotify in the present.

Thanks again for writing.

Comment by Rob

No Brian I wasn’t drunk. The point I was making that if you think of music consumers rather than fans, then you’re doomed to fail. Even the most calculating pop bands think in terms of fans rather than consumers.

It’s that mentality of shifting units rather than nurturing talent which led to the industry missing the boat when digital techonlogy emerged. They brought in P&G marketers who didn’t understand the market – their professionalism was needed (I worked in the music industry in the distant past) but the purchase decision and customer realtionship is not an FMCG one. The only similarity is that in both sectors the vast majority of product launches fail.

Comment by John

That is a lot clearer. We have what amounts to a misunderstanding of language, in that your experience informs you of something that I wasn’t really aware of, namely the distinction between identifying listeners as blips on a graph as opposed to living, breathing human beings – fans. Your insight here I appreciate.

When I refer to a consumer, I don’t mean it in that sterile way, however sterile my post is. I’m not experienced enough to know the difference. I do now. I think of listening and experiencing of music as a consumption of it, like food for the mind, heart, and soul. The big picture I am looking at is how the kitchen has really changed, in terms not only of musical creation but cost.

Stanley McCrystal’s book, “Team of Teams,” is a really great read on how different theaters of activity have changed drastically in a short period of time. He starts with his experience of this global change through his experience having to adapt to the changes in the theater of war. He ends up covering a number of other areas where the phenomenon of rapid informational response and super-saturation of information itself have completely altered how people approach things. Nothing new there – that’s just history at work.

For me, what I have found as a musician is that not only can I assemble a team from virtually anywhere in the world, to create a song, but I can also produce a song at a strikingly lower cost than in the past. Using a platform like SoundBetter, to name just one example, I can develop working relationships with musicians, get quality tracks into my editing bay, and move the material to an engineer for mixing and mastering for under $750. This has reduced my risk to the point that I can put my ear to the ground, listening to what’s on people’s minds, and craft something that bypasses genre entirely for the sake of meeting the fan directly at the intersection of what they want to hear and what team I can assemble to match that want.

As it pertains to branding, all of those people in the team have their own brands that they want to be preserved from confusion with my brand, when it comes to distribution, which is also now easier than ever. That’s why the idea of branding has been on my mind. Whether there is some Brand of Brands approach that relates to aiming professionally in the direction of creating a Team of Teams, well that’s what I intend to explore. And I know I’m not inventing or even reinventing the wheel here. I’m just trying to find my place in it.

As for my comment about asking whether or not you were drunk, that’s a knee-jerk reaction to another confusion of language, namely that I need to take a good hard look at myself. That statement hit me as an assault on my integrity. I’ve done an absurd amount of inward thinking and self-correction over my 45 years of life, to the point that it is toxic to the outward looking that I now need to do what I do professionally. But I now think I understand you didn’t mean it in a personal way, and I very much appreciate your feedback. I value what helps me grow 👍

Comment by Brian West

No personal attack was intended. Those only occur on this blog between people who know each other and never on the basis of someone’s opinion (unless for example it was bigoted etc).

As for the branding point, my perspective is that you start by meeting a user need and the users (fans in this case) determine what your brand is. It’s hard enough to write a great song without expending mental resources on deciding for whom it’s being written before you start.

Comment by John

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