Searching for significance

Karen Ross

You could be forgiven for assuming brands the size of McDonalds and Direct Line find achieving bravery and significance with their marketing campaigns a breeze when compared to smaller, less affluent brands, but the fact remains; despite their size and power, bravery and significance in marketing is something they aspire to, yet often find themselves fighting to achieve.

This became clear recently during a fascinating evening spent listening to two of our industry stars; The Marketing Leader of the Year 2018, Direct Line Group’s Mark Evans and The Young Marketing Leader of the Year 2018, McDonald’s Hannah Pain, debate the subject of bravery in marketing.

Success V’s Significance

One of the key take outs for me was when Mark Evans spoke passionately about how many of us spend years¬†aiming for success, but often realise too late; that it’s not necessarily all about success – real satisfaction comes from achieving significance in our work. It’s the really smart people who figure out how to achieve¬†success and significance simultaneously.

This sentiment struck a chord and clarified to me what many of us seek in life and work. Knowing at the end of a campaign you’ve achieved success is always important, but there are less projects that I could honestly say made me feel like I’d achieved significance. Whether that’s the innovative nature of an idea, an important message it carried, or the career progression of my client, to feel a sense of significance; you need to know your work has made a real impact and difference. That’s not easy to come by. Short term success is common, but real significance is something I think deep down we’re all striving for.

Hannah’s take on bravery

But back to bravery. Hannah Pain from McDonalds talked about how the enormity of the brand is one element that restricts their bravery. Hannah’s measure on bravery though remains with their consumer. She described how when faced with deciding when to push the bravery boundaries, she balances the brands reputation and purpose continually with what will resonate most with their customers. Never losing a laser focus on the consumer, she feels is the key to making the right decision. She talked about how important it is to be brutally honest with yourself and to make a judgement call between risk and recklessness. Perhaps one of the hardest decisions you’ll face as a brand owner.

The absolute need for authenticity

Both Marketing Leaders talked about how being authentic and really ‘owning’ a subject as part of your brands purpose and not veering too far from this; are key to achieving bravery and significance. I couldn’t agree more. My gripe for the last few years has been to watch brands ‘owning’ the latest trend, that just isn’t close enough to their true purpose. Brands are rightly fixated on finding their purpose (after all younger generations now judge a brands by it’s purpose ), but for all our sake’s; find a purpose that is believable, own-able and authentic, anything less is utterly see through and meaningless.

So after a truly inspiring evening, my wish for 2019 will be to seek out projects and clients for our team that really drives significance. Whilst this will be different for everyone, success for me would be to hear our team at the next Cheeky Christmas knees up; say they worked on projects this year that really made them tick, something they’re proud of, something of significance.

Searching for significance