Everything a brand needs to know, be and do in a few sentences


Sir John Hegarty, founder of of BBH, arguably among the world’s best advertising agencies, is the guest speaker at next month’s Most Contagious conference in London. Lucky you if you get to go.

I’ve trimmed a seven-minute video promoting the event (I am assuming Contagious won’t mind; after all their name implies they want content to spread) to this 2:30 segment above.

Somehow Sir John captures in a couple of sentences everything a brand needs to know and do in an age where most consumers and users value genuine transparency over some corporate CSR program intended to buy good will.

Says Hegarty,

“Brands have a responsibility to deliver a brilliant product that answers a consumer need as efficiently as they can in a way that is inspiring.

I’ve added the emphasis on the words brilliant and inspiring, as we don’t get enough of either from most brands.

It sounds rather simple, doesn’t it?  A brilliant product that we actually need. Manufactured and delivered efficiently, and ideally, sustainably.  And done in a way that inspires.

Does any brand do that? Even Apple and Nike only deliver on two out of three.

John adds another thought that becomes important to those of us in the business of helping shape brands.

“If I were in charge of a brand the first thing I would do is demonstrate that we are creating work that is genuinely a benefit to society and when we talk about those brands, as a consumer advocate, that we’re doing it in a way that people admire.

Again, my emphasis. But Sir John believes that it’s the brand that should be a consumer advocate. That it’s more important to demonstrate that advocacy through actual behavior (versus contrived messages) and that when we do create messages we should produce content that is actually admirable.

Simple instructions for clients and agencies.

Maybe there’s hope for brands and advertising yet.

Related links:

Contagious Events

Sir John’s book on advertising





Hegarty is a heavy and I'm hardly qualified to dispute him, but his statements don't do much for me. First off, what is brilliant? Pretty subjective. Same for inspiring. Another problem, though, is today's use of the word brand. Why can't we just say company? I mean, what is a brand anyway? Tide? Okay, but P&G is the company that makes it and it's P&G that needs to have its feet held to fire if it breaks the law or whatever not its brands. One thing I do agree with, though, is walking the talk, something more and more companies are doing, but still not enough. Sorry for the rant! Had a migraine this morning...


Thanks for doing the edit, Edward.  It's a great video.


My small take on this would be to add brevity as part of the brief to agencies and brands.

Why?  The transparency message is understood - but part of the opportunity to achieve cut-through to consumer consciousness is also the ability to communicate your message quickly.


I ran a training event last week  http://www.slideshare.net/rcaroe/social-media-training-for-otago-southland-employers-association

in which attendees said they would check how long a video was before watching it.  Nobody in the room would choose to watch anything longer than 3 minutes! 


A lesson for me


The word "need" is a big word here. People don't "need" Coca Cola and people don't "need" Apple products (more debatable here if you look at people who depend on them for their livelihood. this guy included). So I'd probably change the word "need" to "want."But I whole heartedly agree with the rest of it. Which is just another reason I believe that we've got to get as close the product as we can (even if we have no proven ability in product design). So it made me really happy and excited to hear Britton Taylor over at W+K talking about getting more upstream with Old Spice and helping them develop products and product related ideas. See the video over at Junior Strategy (not plugging because I contribute but it's genuinely good content). 


http://www.juniorstrategy.com/?p=308 (The "Strategy Builds Trust" video)


Good stuff all around. Thanks for sharing Edward.


I dunno - he believes magic is real