Drop the Key Visual, Create Campaigns.

In communication, many drinks’ brands focus on “Key Visuals”, i.e. a very beautiful photo which glorifies a bottle in an ideal set. Yet, the pursuit of this perfect image is often very resource demanding and leaves no energies or budget to develop other messages. And after a while, the same photos will become boring. In the case of medium and small brands, there may not be enough budget left to buy media presence, thus condemning the brand to stay unnoticed.

To break out from this situation, STOP thinking Key Visual and START thinking Campaign. The following paper explains the principles, benefits and requirements for great campaigns. But first, some great campaign examples:

The Economist Campaign

The Economist Campaign by BBDO is about “celebrating intelligence”: it portrays situations and cues that invite the audience to be discerning. The graphic codes are sistematically red with white serif type sentences. The apparent simplicity and strong colour code allow to catch the attention, stand out and link with The Economist magazine logo.

The Johnnie Walker “icons” Campaign

Created in the early 2000’s by BBH, “icons” brings to life Johnnie Walker proposition of “Inspiring Personal Progress” through a series of illustrations showing the Striding Man overcoming adversity. The execution is simple and does not need translations, thus giving an international reach. The consistent signature reinforces the association of the brand as an icon of progress.

The Velhotes Campaign

If you think that great campaigns are only for big brands with fat budgets, think again. Velhotes is a portuguese port wine brand which shows 3 old friends on the label. Rather than ditching the characters in the trap of hype, the brand worked brilliantly with Mosca to create a campaign where the 3 friends crack jokes and always land with a “brindemos a isso”, i.e. “cheers to that”. In their own way, Velhotes reminds that old is also fun.

The Wild Dog Campaign

Wild Dog is a craft beer from Zambia which is rolling out a new image with a simple proposition around “celebrating originality”. Rather than follow the troden path and of classic friendhip occupied by local brand leaders, Brand Reveal developped a campaign principle which 1) places the logo at the center of the ad to create recognition, 2) shows a simple copy that can become witty in association with the 3) tag line of “Like No Other”. This is a VERY easy campaign to extend, inexpensive to produce, BUT with a distinctive proposition that can be applied anywhere.

The Economist, Johnnie Walker, Velhotes or Wild Dog campaigns are built on the same principles: 1) a consistent graphic identity and signature and 2) an engaging message which bring to life the brand proposition in the brand tone.

Apart from a great creative team, these campaigns require the Brands to have a very clear proposition which is emotionally engaging. Our work at Brand Reveal is to help express these elements before any creative brief is produced. The time invested in establishing the brand’s fundamentals beyond the usual “quality and price” lingo is a huge time saver and guide for subsequent developments.

The benefits from this approach is evident: appart from delivering messages that connect to your audience, it shifts the budget spend from production to media buying, which in turns allows to emerge from the clutter. And in times of challenging sales like 2023 and uncertainty like 2024, management will always be keen on effective approaches that help sales.

Next time a creative agency proposes communication ideas, grill them with these two simple questions :

  1. can you produce at least 10 of these visuals which are different, yet communicate what the brand is really all about for the same price or cheaper ?
  2. can you express the creative idea with a pen and a paper, without all the computerised bells and whitles ? Indeed beware of glitz as a way to mask mediocre ideas…

If the answer is “no” to these questions, and if you still are stuck on Key Visuals, then it perhaps it is time to shake up your creative partners or to clarify what your brand stands for.

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