Building brands in a changing society

Is the Brand Idea Up to the Challenge of Social Media?

Social Media Q&A with Lee McEwan

Part four of a five-part interview series about the challenges and opportunities that social media presents to the brand idea.

“Each brand can only own one word,” Maurice Saatchi proclaimed to the marketing industry at the 2006 Cannes Lions festival. “Take great care before you pick your word.” Saatchi’s position was that, in a multi-platform, multi-device media world, only “brutally simple” brand ideas break through. With the rise of social media, today’s marketing ecosystem has only grown more complex. This forces the question of whether a single brand idea can realistically address all the needs of the brand. I talked to Lee McEwan, group planning director at JWT London, about whether there is a model for brand ideas better equipped to hold its own in an increasingly fragmented media environment.

In today’s marketing environment, what is the main challenge that social media poses to the brand idea?

With the explosion of ways that a brand can communicate, the notion of using only a single thought, like a brand idea, to manage perceptions of a brand can be a bit limitingespecially in social media. While repetition is still useful to make sure that people know what you’re about, if you go on about the same thing all the time, people do tend to get a bit bored of you.

If brands don’t rely on a singular thought, what is the alternative?

For me, there’s a missing piece that joins the old and new worlds of marketing. That missing piece is a typology of brand ideas, which enables you to engage with all the things that a brand needs to do these days. Some of those ideas might be transient; an idea you don’t need for long. Of course, there still needs to be consistency but we have to allow room for inspiration and new starting points.

Read the rest on the JWT Blog.


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