Concepts Are Key
All campaigns need a concept — an overarching idea that lives at the essence of the campaign and drives all parts that make up the campaign. The concept can be simple — a metaphor comparing the product to something else, a clever insight, or maybe just an interesting story. But all campaigns need a concept if they want to be effective and memorable.
Sometimes it’s hard to define what makes a good concept, and like many other creative aspects of advertising, concepts can be very subjective. Overall, here are a few guidelines to follow when looking for strong concepts.
A good rule of thumb is that a good concept should be able to be summed up in one sentence. If not, it’s a sign that the concept is too complex and could be difficult for the reader to understand.
The ad above for Scrabble is a perfect example of a simple concept; a great visual metaphor that brings to life the entire premise of the game. If you know Scrabble (and let’s be real, who doesn’t?) then this ad immediately makes sense. They key is in the simplicity: if the ad tried to communicate more than just one metaphor, the reader could be confused or lose interest.
Great concepts resonate with people because they convey a human truth — something that everyone, or at least your target audience, can relate to. If people can see a part of themselves in your advertising campaign — one of their hopes, fears, or struggles — they’re much more likely to pay attention and have an emotional reaction.
This ad campaign for The Economist is famous for many reasons—it’s snappy, clever, and has a distinct look. But most importantly, it resonates with many people, especially the target audience. Everyone wants to be successful in life—and people in economics, business, and finance tend to be especially focused with success in the workplace. This campaign taps into that common feeling and promises its target that The Economist will get them to the top.
A campaign concept should be able to be expressed in many different ways. If you have a great idea but it can only lead to one or two ads, it might be a brilliant one-off — but not a campaign. Ad campaigns, by nature, span multiple mediums, so an idea shouldn’t be limited by just one medium, either.
“The Most Interesting Man in the World” is one of the most well-known characters in advertising—and he’s also a concept that transcends mediums. Unlike the above examples, this famous Dos Equis campaign doesn’t rely on words or visuals alone, but rather an idea: that you could be as interesting as this man if you drink Dos Equis. In case you’ve forgotten the original TV ad, let us refresh your memory:
Overall, there are no hard and fast rules for what makes a concept good. Like art and music, “good” concepts are often subjective. At the end of the day, a good campaign conveys the brand’s personality and reinforces its unique selling point. Within that, the most important thing for a concept is that it sends the right message to the audience — and that message sticks around.