The 7 M’s of Marketing. The Fourth “M”, Message Design

Fourth “M”

Message Design: What is the Creative Solution?

Creative StrategyYour creative strategy will encompass all of the ways that your message will be sent out to your audience, from print advertising, to outdoor, to television, to radio, to internet. The last, internet, encompasses social media, website, blog and online advertising. What’s important is to use a unified “voice”, with visual and audio resonating in the same tone and feel.

The tone of the creative will first depend on whether the message needs to be emotional or logical. The color palette can be chosen based on the ‘latest’ colors or on psychological cues. The copy writing can be warm and friendly or cool and factual. Photo and graphic choices also carry the feel, and standards need to be set to drive the choices of art: looking at camera, looking away from camera; close-up; clean; busy; puppies and babies; inanimate objects. Will you use an illustrative style or natural?

Color psychology is a fascinating topic by itself. Here are a few color meanings:Color Wheel-Psychological meanings of color

As you can imagine, a financial institution would use different colors than a restaurant or toy company in their visual design. What colors do you think each of these entities might use?

An example of a creative campaign that keeps the same “voice” and visual image throughout is the one that Progressive uses, with Flo as the spokesperson. Take a look at the website here:

Notice the blue that’s used in the logo, and how it’s used in other key spots in the website. As seen in the color wheel, blue denotes stability, trust, loyalty, wisdom … all positives for an insurance company’s look and feel. The website graphics are simple, colorful, clean, and keep the same friendly feel to the site that’s used in Flo’s conversational tone in the TV ads and her overall appearance.

As a secondary accent color, orange denotes enthusiasm and success, is the contrasting color to blue, and easily stands out in both the friendly “Welcome!” headline and in buttons that request the user to take action. The verbiage on the website keeps it friendly, is conversational and talks about what “you get”. It’s all about the reader’s “what’s in it for me” thought process. The tone, again, is similar to the audio tone on the television commercials and the video on the website:

The marketing creative for Progressive was built around the idea of “oh no, I don’t want to meet with an insurance agent, they just want to sell me something I don’t need.” Progressive turns that around with Flo into “my insurance agent is friendly, helps me, and cares about protecting me.”

Basic creative elements to consider:

  1. What consumer question is being answered
  2. Will the creative solution be based on:
    • Emotion
    • Logic
  3. Who is the target market?
  4. What do we want our customers to feel?
  5. What colors will work best to bring out those emotions?
  6. What type of art will work best:
    • Photos
    • Drawings
    • Combination
  7. What overall tone will the content take:
    • Serious
    • Fun
    • Caring
    • Scary
    • Personal, etc.
  8. What media will be used:
    • Social media
    • Website
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Newspaper
    • Email
    • Outdoor
    • Other

The creative encompasses everything about the company, beyond the marketing materials into the experience people have when they visit the your business, what colors, sounds, smells greet them as they walk in the door—whether yours is an office space or a retail business.

Once established, it’s important to keep the experience consistent, so that customers recognize it across experiences and over time. Yet, it must remain relevant, and the overall look, feel, voice will need to be refreshed periodically. Think of the creative strategy as living, growing, changing entity that encompasses your business and keeps your best foot moving forward.