Tag Paul Tidmarsh

B7 Communications Strategy Guides Surf Sensations Launch

Surf Sensations has been launched with a TV advertising campaign based on a communications strategy devised by B7  Innovation and the Surf brand team.

The campaign shows how Surf Sensations can put uplifting fragrances made with perfume oils into your everyday life.  B7 founder, Paul Tidmarsh comments “Adcepts gave us much more depth and precision than traditional concepts could on this project. Because we looked at so many different potential communication ideas from so many angles, we found that the fragrances being crafted by expert perfumers was the best support for the price premium, and that the imagery should speak to the buyer as a woman, rather than as a mother.”

B7 Innovation’s Paul Tidmarsh Celebates 200th Adcept Project

B7 Innovation, the world’s leading Adcept specialist, has hit a new milestone – it has now completed 200 Adcept projects.

“It’s hard to believe that we’ve done so many,” says B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh. “We started 11 years ago, working from my kitchen table with just a laptop, a printer and a vision for changing how innovation and brand communication could be explored and researched. A lot has changed since then, but not the vision.”

Since B7’s first project in 2003 (the re-positioning of Archers Peach Schnapps), the agency has gone on to work on the development of some of the world’s most respected brands. Those who have passed through their doors include Dove, Philips, Flora, Bell’s Whisky and Tesco.

“Although our vision hasn’t changed,” says Paul Tidmarsh, “our techniques have. We’re always looking for little ways to improve our methodology. Mainly lots of tiny tweaks that in themselves don’t seem important, but when you add them together, mean a lot. It’s like a sportsman concentrating on the one activity every day, trying to find some extra edge – specialisation and focus lead to excellence.”

B7’s Adcept methodology came from a frustration with concept statements traditionally used in qualitative research. “Concept statements are completely alien to focus group members and they lack any emotion” says Paul Tidmarsh. “Our Adcepts speak to consumers in the familiar language of brands – advertising. They also have emotion and personality, which is usually the most important aspect of a modern brand.”

“Early on, it could be difficult to get clients to look beyond concept statements simply because that was how everybody thought research was done. But when people saw what we were doing, they were amazed” says Paul. “Not only were our Adcepts better than concept statements, we could also show up to 80 different ones per focus group, meaning no potentially interesting ideas need be excluded, and every idea area could be explored from multiple angles.”

“We’ve been really fortunate to work with some of the best brand teams, research agencies and advertising agencies through these 200 projects. We think we’ve contributed a lot, but we’ve learnt plenty too. All our work comes from repeat clients or referrals, so we must be doing something right,” says Paul Tidmarsh, “here’s to the next 200 projects!”.

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 Support Team Cohesion says Paul Tidmarsh

“One of the most difficult areas for a client managing a brand innovation or npd project is ensuring that all those involved feel that their voice is being heard”, says B7 Innovation founder Paul Tidmarsh. “Using the traditional concept board approach in focus group research means that you have typically six areas which can be explored, and potential different angles within these themes can’t be expressed – this can lead to frustrations within the business where favourite ideas are excluded from the research for lack of space. Getting buy-in from all parties can be problematic.”

Paul Tidmarsh

Paul Tidmarsh

This is where B7’s Adcept methodology offers a clear advantage. “Our approach is different – we start by letting the consumers narrow down the areas that they find most interesting, then we look at these themes from multiple angles” says Tidmarsh. “We show up to 80 different Adcepts to a research group, which means that there is room to include any idea that a member of the team feels particularly strongly about. Each area has a number of different expressions to ensure it’s not overlooked without giving it its best shot.” Because of this, every person/department/region/agency feels that their input has been given a fair crack of the whip and winning ideas are recognised as being genuinely the areas of greatest opportunity.

Showing so many Adcepts to a group often surprises new clients. “It seems counter-intuitive but to isolate the precise areas of opportunity you have to look at it from multiple angles. This is a key difference in our methodology” says Tidmarsh. “We both widen the funnel and explore ideas to a level of detail impossible with traditional research approaches. This not only removes internal politics from the equation, it also gives the richness of information needed for confident brand development and communication strategy.”

The Funny Thing with Adcepts says Paul Tidmarsh…

“The funny thing with Adcepts” says B7 founder Paul Tidmarsh, “is that they work in a counter-intuitive way – to get to the detail on brand positioning and communication, you first have to expand your focus to cover any possible angle or way in.”

B7 is the world leader in using Adcepts for brand positioning and communication, with over a decade’s experience working on brands such as Dove, Philips, Flora and Tesco. Paul Tidmarsh and his team developed B7’s Adcept methodology out of frustration with the traditional concept statement/mood board approach to brand development and qualitative research. “With concept statements”, says Tidmarsh, “ you get about six opportunities to strike a chord with consumers in focus groups. So unless you’re truly inspired or a bit lucky, you may not uncover any useful insights at all. Also, if an idea area is interesting to the group, it’s hard to pick-out what is most interesting about that area, and what particular expressions of it are most motivating.”

B7’s approach is different and can seem counter-intuitive. “We spread the net as wide as possible” says Paul Tidmarsh. “We explore every possible idea area and within each area we produce Adcepts with a slightly different angle or tone of voice. Because we show consumers up to 80 different Adcepts, no stone is left unturned. Then when consumers pick out the most motivating areas, we are able to see them from multiple angles, so that the information mined is so much more specific and helpful.”

New clients are sometimes surprised by the volume of Adcepts used in research but quickly come to see the effectiveness and efficiency of the approach. “One client described our approach as having the range of a blunderbuss with the precision of a sniper’s rifle – and that’s what makes our Adcept methodology so unique and powerful” says Paul Tidmarsh.