It's important to align brands to the customer, not the other way around. The objective is to facilitate the mutual exchange
of value. But our customers are not in the business of serving up their requirements to us on a silver platter. It's up to
us to garner a deep understanding about the category, the competition, our brand reality, our customers' cultural biases,
media consumption, and the human reality to uncover the underlying customer needs, challenges, and motivations.
Master the tools
Search engines, social media, and other consumer-controlled engagements allow for deeper insights into consumers' thoughts,
motivations, and behaviors. Interactive touch points like mobile devices, smartphones, and digital destinations give consumers
access to more on-demand information, offering opportunities for marketers to track these interactions in real time, enabling
them to understand and influence their audiences at a broader and deeper level than ever before. An enabling infrastructure
and processes lets marketers capture, synthesize, and disseminate customer interactions, pathways, and journeys, in addition
to analyzing synergies and alignment with brand goals to inform the creative process.
Merge left and right brain
It is not an alien concept that structured thinking can fuel the creative process. The biggest impediment to this mind-meld
is conversion of dashboards and walls of numbers into insights that create the "aha" moments and give fuel to ideas that are
generous and generative—enabled by a team structure that encourages multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Let the ideas flow
And flow they must. The days of replicating the same old message across every channel are long gone. Today, creatives must
think about context to keep their message relevant and timely. We need to think about the customer first and ask ourselves
the same question every time we create a touch point: What is the human need that we are going to answer as a brand? And the
thing that helps us do this—keep our thinking and our work fluid—is data.
Graham Mills is Executive Creative Director at Digitas Health. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mukarram Bhatty is Senior Vice President Strategy at Digitas Health. He can be reached at email@example.com