Impact, Identification, Image & Integration.

I am not old enough or smart enough to have "philosophies." But I do have principles that I use to guide me on virtually every project. The four i-words above do wonders in creating work that is focused on the "you" that we are all trying to reach--that is the consumer or prospective customer. Too much marketing writing is little more than an exercise in self congratulation. I've heard product managers insist on including the favorite buzzwords of colleagues in order to score political points inside the company. I've seen writers and art directors ignore important benefits because tangential product point might make a more "creative" spot. Instead of communications that is about me, me, me--creative is best when it focuses on the four i's above.

Impact. Is there a bold statement, a captivating headline, a compelling graphic, or a thought-provoking headline/visual combination? Nail the audience with something surprising and relevant and you are already half way home. Always remember that nothing gets read or watched unless you score first with impact.

Identification. How well do you relate to the audience? More specifically, are you writing "personal" communications even though you are speaking to a mass audience? A good creative person has hundreds of interests, and the curiosity to know that he or she will have many more before long. Before you write any ad, identify as strongly as you can with the reader (or viewer). Walk the world in his shoes. Try to think like she does. This will make you a much better writer (or art director). And you'll be more interesting at parties.

Image. Does your product have a personality? Is your company or brand likeable? The image of a company or product was probably well established before you got the ad assignment and it will endure long after you're done. Every piece of communications either takes advantage of an image or works to build it. Tone and manner of communications are as important as the facts you relay. Don't be deep and ponderous when you're selling perfume or glib when promoting Catholic Charities.

Integration. The concept must be compelling and relevant. Photos or footage need to be captivating. Copy should pay off the headline from beginning to end. Your writing needs to surprise, charm, soothe, amuse or stir the soul. The ad, commercial or mailer should integrate audience realities with the advertisers' promise. Everything needs to work together perfectly.