By Rachael Simoes
Poetry in Brands
Last Friday was all about brands and brand statements, and Tuesday about performance poetry. We learnt that every move a brand makes, down to their choice in lorry design and carrier bag graphics, sends a message about who they are. When done right, everything a brand does says the same thing.
This reminded me of my time on Commercial Break (a short advertising course) when 7 of us aged 19-24 worked for HSBC. Specifically, we were helping them appeal to young people. Their brand was clear and they gave us a hefty deck explaining it, but getting our own understanding of HSBC’s brand was no walk in the park.
In poetry, we were told to choose any object to later perform a piece on. For preparation we were told to feel the object with our eyes closed, write down what personal memories we had with the object, and overall become one with our objects. This way when we were left to our own devices with a 5-hour deadline, it was easier to write.
When asked what we thought of HSBC, the room fell silent. There was the obvious “it seems like a bank for rich foreign people” but there was a lack of sentiment towards the brand. No one had a strong feeling towards it, bad or good. We eventually came to the conclusion that it was difficult to feel anything for the brand, it had no place in our lives and we were indifferent about it.
An opinion, however, is needed to guide the strategy and creative of a campaign for the brand. A great exercise our mentors came up with was putting a famous face to a brand. From there we were able to better associate our feelings and understanding of a brand without words first. For the sake of giggles in this SCAB, we did this exercise with banks and Nationwide was Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell).
Gradually over lots of conversations about wider concerns and specific research into HSBC (how we felt about banks overall, how we felt about the HSBC’s website layout, if fin-techs would be the death of banking etc.) we gathered feelings and opinions for HSBC. More importantly, we knew exactly what would make sense coming from HSBC in a campaign and what would make us lose interest in what they were doing – even if the campaign in isolation might be a great idea.
We needed to know what we were willing to hear from HSBC. Why, for example, did the Richard Ayoade campaigns sit well with us, but not the Lady Leshurr ones. Their tone of voice sits well with handsomeness intelligence and wit – UK rap about current accounts doesn’t exactly fit in with their wider message. After Tuesday, it occurred to us that we need to be as familiar with our brands as we are with our subject of our poetry. Giving the same emotional status to a campaign as a poem about your crush at 16 years old, is a recipe for great work.