Archive for February, 2014

Why should I use Adcepts? – Client Questions Answered by Paul Tidmarsh

1. What can Adcepts do that concept statements can’t?
Concept statements (often used with mood boards) are of very limited help when trying to develop a new brand, or re-focus an existing one for growth. They are unrealistic, unfamiliar and lacking in emotion. Our Adcepts speak to consumers in the familiar language of brands – advertising – so that they can easily put an idea into the real-world context of the particular market being discussed. Adcepts convey emotion in a way that a cold concept statement can’t and winning theme areas can be explored from multiple functional and emotional angles to give precise insights into the most compelling routes in.

2. Why do you show so many Adcepts to a focus group?

We show up to 80 Adcepts per group which often strikes new clients as very high. There are two reasons why this quantity is so effective. Firstly, it allows respondents to examine a greater number of theme areas than is possible with concept statements, so that no opportunity area is missed. Secondly, having quickly narrowed down the themes it finds most interesting, the group moves on to isolating the most compelling expression of each winning idea area by evaluating multiple angles around the theme, expressed by subtly different Adcept executions. One client described our process as ‘having the breadth of a blunderbuss and the precision of a sniper’s rifle’.

3. Isn’t this what the advertising agency should be doing?
Getting a clear, precise and confident advertising brief is central to creating great advertising. The clarity and richness of insight our Adcept methodology produces ensures buy-in from client and agency alike about what should go into the creative brief. It also means that the agency doesn’t waste creative time exploring strategy. Another advantage of our methodology is that creative areas are ‘road tested’ within the research, so that the advertising creatives have a more informed view of fertile areas to explore.

4. How long does all this take?
Despite the high quality and quantity of the stimulus we produce, a typical project from briefing to agreement of key conclusions takes just six weeks. Many clients have remarked that our process saves them considerable time because we can research many more theme areas than concept statements allow. This means no wrangling within the project team about which areas to exclude, or worse still, trying to force-fit separate ideas into one concept statement. Another time saving benefit is that creative briefs become much more easily written with very little time lost in debate.

5. What’s your track-record?
The B7 Adcept methodology has aided the development of some of the world’s most successful brands. Examples include: Repositioning / communication for Dove in the developing markets and positioning of multiple innovations globally; positioning for several innovations for Flora / Becel in Europe and communications strategy for Unilever spreads in the US; repositioning / communication strategy for Bell’s Whisky, Pimm’s and Archer’s brands worldwide; Positioning of several initiatives for Tesco (e.g. re- launching their .com service and the launch of their first tablet computer).

B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh comments “We have spent 10 years perfecting our Adcept methodology and believe that there is no more effective way to find the compelling insights that drive brand growth. We have never advertised or chased new business because all our work comes from repeat business or referrals.”

Brandcepts Vs Concept Statements is like Portraits Vs Stickmen says Paul Tidmarsh

“Brands are just like people”, says B7 Innovation founder Paul Tidmarsh. “They tell the world about themselves in much the same way that we do, they just use slightly different means:

• What they say and how they say it – advertising
• What they look like and the clothes they wear – packaging
• What job they do – the product

“So it makes sense when researching a new brand or re-focusing an existing one, that we show consumers a rounded 3D version of how it could be. This means using research stimulus that communicates the key features of the brand. Unfortunately,” says Paul Tidmarsh, “the concept statements and mood boards used in traditional qualitative research can’t do this. They’re unfamiliar and unrealistic, they lack emotion and they give an incomplete picture of how the brand could communicate in a holistic way. But at B7 Innovation, we believe that we’ve found a better way.”

“We create multiple expressions of how a brand could communicate, what we call ‘Brandcepts’”, says Paul Tidmarsh. “These consist of three types of stimulus: Adcepts, Packcepts and Productcepts that mimic how a brand would communicate its personality to consumers in the real world.

“The Adcepts are always the most important as we use these to explore what the brand could say and in what style. Showing consumers real creative stimulus and finding out why the strongest executions touch their hearts, makes the process of completing a brand positioning statement or communications brief for a new brand so much easier. It is almost as if the brand has made the successful change in direction and we are simply finding out the root of its appeal.

“Where packaging plays a critical part in a positioning,” says Tidmarsh, “we use ‘Packcepts’. These can vary from rough sketches to investigate format, to a 3D, highly finished mock up. This allows us to investigate aspects such as degree of modernity, how upmarket Vs. everyday, natural Vs. scientific etc.

“Productcepts are used to scope several innovation ideas. They are simple illustrations of potential products that the brand could launch. They consist of a rough colour illustration of the product or pack format and a short, simple, factual description devoid of hyperbole or attempts to sell.

Added together, these three aspects of the Brandcept give consumers a much richer understanding of what the brand could become, something much more helpful than concept statements and mood boards could ever provide. “Comparing Brandcepts with concept statements and mood boards,” says Paul Tidmarsh, “is like comparing a portrait with a stickman drawing.”

Adcepts – 20/20 Foresight says B7’s Paul Tidmarsh

Hindsight, it’s so often said, has 20/20 vision. When we look back on a successful venture, the outcome often seems so inevitable that it’s impossible to imagine that things could have turned out any differently. It’s easy to write the positioning of a successful well established brand – that’s because you have the hindsight of great consistent positioning and communication. Analyse that positioning and communication and the brand models are relatively easy to complete. However, it’s a different story for a new brand or a brand that needs to re-focus. To get this just right, what we want is the seemingly impossible – hindsight NOW. But, amazingly as B7 partner Paul Tidmarsh explains, there is a methodology that offers us just that.

Regular brand positioning methodologies just focus on the key questions in a particular proforma – not how to answer them. B7 Innovation’s Adcept methodology is different. Firstly, because we show consumers up to 80 Adcepts in a focus group, we’re able to show them a much wider range of themes than the usual concept statement/mood board format allows. This means that areas of potential interest all get a crack of the whip, including the more radical game-changing ideas that are often considered too left-field to be given a berth at the expense of those with more obvious appeal.

Once the most interesting themes have been isolated by the group, each one is then examined from multiple angles. Because Adcepts are written in the language of brands – advertising – they carry an emotional as well as a rational appeal. We can therefore unpick not just the functional attraction of an idea, but also the tone of voice & personality that brings it best to life. As successful modern brands are increasingly defined by the ownership of a very specific aspect of an emotional territory, precisely defining this emotional positioning is essential to a brand’s success.

Showing consumers real creative stimulus and finding out why the strongest executions touch their hearts, makes the process of completing a brand positioning statement or communications brief for a new brand so much easier. It is almost as if the brand has made the successful change in direction and we are simply finding out the root of its appeal

Having identified the most compelling way for a brand to behave, we then simply work backwards to define the brand. The result is ‘hindsight now’, or more accurately, 20/20 foresight for your brand.

Adcepts – More Quantity & More Quality than Concept Statements

The real advantage of B7 Innovation’s Adcept methodology is that it gives not just more quantity than concept statements, it gives much more quality too.

One of the key drawbacks that concept statements have as research stimulus, is that the number of areas that can be explored in a focus group is low. Six concepts is about the limit per group, which means that many potentially strong ideas are never exposed to consumers. Often the themes left out are the more revolutionary ones that can drive the sort of ground-breaking innovation that gives lasting market leadership. Another downside of restricted numbers is that the project team can waste valuable time fighting over which areas to include, or trying to force-fit separate ideas into a single concept statement.

B7’s Adcepts are different. We show up to 80 Adcepts per focus group, allowing many more themes to be explored. Although this number seems extremely high, because ideas areas are grouped, consumers quickly lead us towards those themes that resonate most with them. We find that early within the session, respondents are focusing on approx. 15 Adcepts which they believe have real potential.

The quality advantage that Adcepts hold over concept statements comes from the fact that each of the theme areas which the group expresses interest in is explored from a number of different angles. Subtle difference in tone can be examined, so that a finely nuanced understanding results. This very precise learning about what is most compelling about an idea ensures that a communications brief is extremely precise, something very helpful to the creatives charged with bringing the idea to life.

Adcepts are the most effective way to explore where a brand could go and what it could become. They give a freedom to explore many more areas than concept statements and then give so much more detail and tone on the ideas which offer most potential. B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh says “It’s liking having your cake and eating it too!”

Adcepts – No more ‘Ones that Got Away’

One of the most frustrating things in life is dwelling on missed opportunities. Think about the man from the Decca record label who turned down the Beatles or the Apple founder who sold his 10% share for $850. Yet these are examples where the missed opportunity is apparent and measurable. For owners of new or existing brands that have relied on concept statements as their chief qualitative research stimulus, the fact is that they will never know what opportunities have passed them by, unseen.

The reason for this is simple. Typically, concept statements are limited to a maximum of six per focus group – just six opportunities to find an area of potential consumer interest. Such a narrow focus means that themes considered less likely to offer potential never see the light of day. These will generally include more challenging and progressive ideas that can prove to be game-changers in any market. So not only is the field narrowed at the outset, it also excludes the more revolutionary thinking that leads to the genuine innovation that creates market leadership for a brand.

But the problem goes deeper still. Even if the general opportunity area described by a concept statement is potentially interesting to consumers, concept statements give just one shot at communicating that idea. Without exploring different angles and emotional feelings around that theme, many potentially strong ideas will be passed over. This is where Adcepts come into their own…

Adcepts are different from concept statements in that they are in the everyday language of brands – advertising. They can convey emotion in a way that concept statements can’t, so a particular theme can be explored from multiple angles in terms of message and tone. B7 has developed a methodology whereby up to 80 Adcepts can be shown to a focus group. This means that far more idea areas can be evaluated in research and that riskier, more innovative themes can be included. Once the areas of interest are narrowed down by the group, they can then be examined from a number of different angles, so that a very precise understanding of what is most motivating for consumers is understood, both functionally and emotionally.

B7’s Paul Tidmarsh says “Adcepts are the most effective way to uncover the full possibilities and potential of a brand. Make sure to give your brand its very best shot and that no big opportunities are needlessly missed.”