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The Sound's Guide to Writing a concept

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The Sound's guide to crafting a concept... that doesn't suck.

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The Sound's Guide to Writing a concept

  1. 1. CRAFTING A CONCEPT (THAT DOESN’T SUCK) The Sound Guide - Volume 1
  2. 2. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 2 Welcome to the first monthly issue of The Sound’s Guide series. Each month, we will be publishing a simple guide to the key elements we think people who want to be good at Strategy, Innovation, and Research need to know. At The Sound, we aim to be good at Strategy, Innovation, and Research, and this is how we do it. This month we look at crafting a concept... that doesn’t suck.
  3. 3. Dear concept. I HATE YOU. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 3 At The Sound, we craft lots of marketing concepts for new brands, brand extensions and brand positionings. Sometimes the process is as smooth as a buttered Michael Buble, and then there are the times it’s like watching Vice whilst trying to feel good about the world (aka impossible). So, why is it sometimes lovely and fun and easy yet so often hard and horrible and riddled with conflict? This week in our series of Sound Guides, we identify some of the things you need to know about crafting a concept for qualitative research and indeed beyond.
  4. 4. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 4 What is a concept? Well, let’s start with what it’s not. A concept is not written in stone and therefore ready for market. It is not the new ‘reality’ that we all have to adopt as soon as its drafted or presented in a focus group. This means a concept doesn’t have to be perfect or even possible. It can be imperfect and impossible (in fact that might even be better). Rather a concept is a hypothesis to be tested and explored. It can be as wrong as buttering Michael Buble but actually, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the concept generates a deep and meaningful response and allows the research process to explore new territories and avenues. We would rather research concepts that are violently rejected than concepts that are largely inoffensive and provoke no debate. Basically we want concepts that are more Pussy Riot than Michael Buble (this is the last time we will mention Michael Buble. Promise.) So relax, be experimental, be bold... WHAT IS A CONCEPT anyway?
  5. 5. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 5 Big ideas tend to be mobilizing and perhaps disruptive - exactly the kind of things that most people want their brands to be. If it’s a small idea, a brief thought if you like, what makes you think the idea will generate big volume? The best concepts are big ideas, with the brand solving a genuine human problem. In fact, even the smallest innovation should be able to be laddered to a big human idea (in our humble opinion). For example, just asking people to dunk an Oreo in milk could be viewed as a big idea if it’s laddered to bonding time between child and parent. It’s not just about a wet cookie anymore, is it? So make sure your concept feels like a big idea. If it doesn’t, start again. BIG IDEAS ONLY please
  6. 6. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 6 Storytelling is little bit like big data. Everyone seems to be obsessed with it, but no-one really knows quite what it is or why we need to care. We need to think about storytelling when we write concepts because people engage with stories, they relate to stories, they learn from stories, and they pass on information through stories... Storytelling is key to writing a concept that generates a discussion and insightful response. So try and think of your concept as a means of telling a story (if you use The Sound to generate your concepts, the entire workshop or innovation process will be based around storytelling, but that, as they say, is another story...). So, imagine your concept as play or a movie: set the stage with the big idea, make the brand the hero, and ensure the reader feels like they've been saved / redeemed / gotten the girl/boy. TELL ME a story
  7. 7. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 7 This may be a shocker, but, in general, people don’t care about brands as much as brand managers or agency people. So, as an aside, please stop asking “what do consumers think about brands?” The answer is, “they don’t.” Firstly, they’re ‘people’ and not ‘consumers,’ and secondly, they think about their life, relationships, dreams, health, hopes and fears. And generally, they don’t tend think about these things through the lens of brands and branding. The reality is that some brands help them live their lives and facilitate moments of escape, happiness, love, connection, victory, satisfaction etc... and some brands don’t. So when it comes to creating a concept, you need to think about people first and your brand second (yes even within the context of your brand concept). If you do this, people might just appreciate that you understand them and are trying to deliver something for them (rather than your CMO). POWER TO the people
  8. 8. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 8 First up, we need to draw the reader in. We need them to see a headline that gets their attention (see above). Then, we need to start with a sentence, written in the first person, that seeks to connect at a broader human level and has some kind of tension within it that introduces the problem the brand will ultimately solve. No tension, then no role for the brand to play... For example “I love writing brand concepts, and they’re are really important part of my job but sometimes I get so stressed out writing them that I go home all grumpy, my partner hates me, and I can no longer make sweet love.” Now this is a big problem that needs to be solved... THE BETTER THE CONCEPT, the better the lover
  9. 9. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 9 OK, we’ve drawn them in, shown them we understand their life, and presented a problem that needs solving. So, now we need to solve it in a way that’s persuasive without being ‘douchey,’ compelling without being ‘salesy.’ In other words, no one in a group should read this and say, “that was written by someone who works in marketing...” Next, we need to describe the product’s functional attributes so the reader begins to see how our amazing product is going to solve this real and genuine problem (that we made them focus on in the opening sentence). For example, we might say something like, “At The Sound, we try and make concept generation kind of fun and painless. We facilitate face-to-face and online approaches, where consumers and experts tell stories about their lives, the future, brands and products, and then we turn these into provocative brand ideas that disrupt categories and move people.” Actually, this does sound like it was written by a marketer, doesn’t it? Oh well, no one’s perfect... SOLVING THE lack of love
  10. 10. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 10 We’ve set the problem, we’ve solved the problem functionally, and now we need to wrap it all up with a bow and sign off with something that evokes emotion and makes people want to do something (like buy the product). We need to finish our concept with a rallying cry if you like. This needs to be big and bold and exciting and catchy. Something like, ‘Make Concepts Not War’ THE money shot
  11. 11. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 11 SO NOW YOU NEED TO READ IT THROUGH AND IF IT’S BORING start again... The better the concept, the better the lover I love writing brand concepts, and they are a really important part of my job, but sometimes I get so stressed out writing them that I go home all grumpy, my partner hates me, and I can no longer make sweet love. At The Sound, we try and make concept generation kind of fun and painless. We facilitate face-to-face and online approaches, where consumers and experts tell stories about their lives, the future, brands and products, and then we turn these into provocative brand ideas that disrupt categories and move people. Make Concepts Not War
  12. 12. THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1 THE SOUND 12 SO GO WRITE a concept… Thank you for reading the first of The Sound Guides. We hope you enjoyed the experience, and please come back next month when we’ll be publishing the next slightly offensive, but never boring, guide to strategy, innovation, and research. Remember, no matter what anyone tells you, insight is art. Go on, contact us at info@thesoundhq.com. We’d love to hear from you!
  13. 13. V A N C O U V E R | N E W Y O R K | L O N D O N | T O R O N T O | C H I C A G O | M U M B A I W W W . T H E S O U N D H Q . C O M
  14. 14. IMAGE REFERENCES SLIDE SITE 1 http://futurecontent.co/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marketing-white-board.jpg 3 http://sites.psu.edu/siowfa15/wp-content/uploads/sites/29639/2015/12/frustrated-boy-studying.bmp 4 http://www.ufunk.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/lego-art-marco-sodano-1.jpg http://www.reddotad.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Mere-Kraft-Featured.jpg http://adsoftheworld.com/sites/default/files/images/matchbox_fly.JPG http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1569659/images/o-DOVE-REAL-BEAUTY-facebook.jpg 5 http://ciphermagazine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Big-Idea-photo-final.jpg 6 http://static.srcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/Scary-TV-American-Horror-Story.jpg 7 http://sharpeye.london/product/all-power-to-the-people-image-black-white-canvas-print 8 https://d12vb6dvkz909q.cloudfront.net/uploads/galleries/27625/the-notebook-4.jpg 9 http://internationalschoolparent.com/wp-content/uploads/man-couple-people-woman-1024x683.jpg 10 https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/60/1d/cb/601dcb0c3d633e00791c0fb258c82215.jpg 11 http://www.entwellbeing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/speech-therapy-articulation-vs-phonology-therapy.jpg 12 http://gallery.yopriceville.com/var/albums/Free-Clipart-Pictures/School-Clipart/Quill_and_Ink_Pot_Transparent_PNG_Vector_Clipart.png?m=1433761424 14THE SOUND THE SOUND GUIDE - VOLUME 1

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