Simply put, in branding there is strategy and execution. There’s obviously more to it, but one cannot exist proudly without the other. Understanding what to say is just as important as how to say it in a memorable way, and vice versa. Here’s a quick how-to on bringing both the right and left brain together for the better.
Experts have said for as long as the mind has been studied that people are either left or right-brained. Those who are left-brain dominant tend to be more analytical and methodical while all of the right-brainers out there are said to be more creative and artistic. Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to note that psychologists will say that one’s left or right-brainedness is “dominant.” What does this mean? Well, it means that even if you are right-brain dominant, your left brain isn’t out to lunch. The same goes for any left brainers thinking they don’t have an artistic bone in their body. Every financial advisor needs to get creative on the job just like every sculpture needs to keep track of product sales and inventory. Understanding that we’re all at least a little both-brained will help a little later on, but for now we’ll talk branding.
Let’s start in a place that makes sense: the left-brain. This also happens to be where we start in a typical branding process. We start with strategy and with it, research, analytics, demographics, psychographics, and all of the other factors that go into building a sound brand strategy. The mere mention of any of these words around a flock of creatives will send them scurrying up nearby trees or down manholes (that’s just a helpful tip if all you left-brainers want some peace and quiet). All kidding aside, there will always be a need for folks who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and diving headlong into pages and pages of research.
How does this apply to your brand? As a brand, there is always a need to be better. Brands are constantly adjusting to stay fresh, reach new people, offer more, or look a certain way. It doesn’t matter how or why a brand wants to change things up, the decision to launch a new product or make a website more user-friendly or devise a campaign to increase brand love comes from the left brain. It comes from the people who study the market trends and monitor what competitors are doing. They develop an insight into how a change to the brand might impact it’s image and positioning. They draw charts and graphs and say things like “KPI” and “lead qualification.” At the end of the process they will have a pretty darn good idea of what any change in message, product, look, or otherwise will do to a brand. And they’ll have a pretty good idea of which changes make the most sense at a given moment.
If you’ve come this far, we’ll now be briefly exploring the space between the brains and another step in the branding process. It’s at this point that a team of brand strategists takes all of their findings and dumbs it down for a corresponding team of creatives to look at. You see, creatives don’t take too kindly to being told what to do, so anything that keeps their genius tethered to reality is going to be looked down upon. In any event, the abridged and digestible research is packaged up nice and neat for a group of designers, copywriters, art directors, and photographers to begin to answer one question: how do we make the change to the brand?
Now, let’s get into the right brain. This is where the execution takes place. Let’s say for example that a brand wants to start selling a new product. The strategist left brainers have explained the who, what and the why to the creatives, so now the right brainers need to take that information and answer the how. They’ll need to develop a campaign. There will need to be taglines and new color palettes and days spent stressfully looking at the ceiling waiting for brilliance to fall from the sky. There will be people doodling and scribbling. People will ask “how does this sound?” or “is this anything?” But in the end, there will be a beautiful campaign executed and ready to spread the good word about the brand new product.
In a nutshell, this is how you’ll find the left and right brain coming together in the field of communications. It’s important to note that there are indeed so many different processes out there that the process above may not always be as recognizable as it seems. Furthermore, whereas it can be said that there exist two differing schools of expertise in branding, neither can exist without the other. It’s easy for a strategist fresh off of an all-night research session to look at the lunatic creative pitching a truly insane concept and begin to lose hope. It’s also easy for a creative to lose sleep over the strategist chanting “that’s off-brief” in her nightmares. Although it can be tough to sympathize with the other half, it’s always important to remind yourself that everyone is moving towards the same goal: pleasing the client.
Just as we established earlier, a little understanding from one side of the brain to another goes a long way. Try to challenge yourself and dig into the dreaded lifestyle of the other brain. Good strategists know how to give a creative just what they want and good creatives know how and where to find groundbreaking research. They’re not mutually exclusive. A little professional empathy goes a long way. If you’re a budding brand with not a clue how to move to the next level, it may be time to consult your brain counterpart.
Remember, we’re all both-brained at least a little bit. This isn’t a war where right-brainers battle for creative freedom while left-brainers fight for sound logic and research. Neither can exist without the other. So, tap into the corner of your brain that is less-explored than the other. Blow the dust off and build some empathy for those that think unlike you. And more importantly, begin to realize when your brand could be better with the help of another brain. Left brainers, find a right brainer to help shape your brand message, look, feel, and voice. Right brainers, bring in a left brainer to reel your brand strategy back to a reality where you can be successful. This can only work when we do it together.