True story. The CEO of a Korean automobile corporation flew to Toronto for the first presentation by his ad agency. The brand was new to the Canadian market, and the agency, keen to impress, had spent weeks sweating the creative. And yet…the CEO sat in inscrutable silence for the entire pitch, seemingly immune to the energy and charm of the senior team.
When it was all over, the group leaned in for feedback. Which concept did the CEO prefer? Each one, the creative director explained, had the potential to become a viral sensation, in the tradition of talking babies or pretty much anything involving celebrities, zombies or cats.
The CEO’s response (which, legend has it, took the agency a few days to decode) was as concise as it was cryptic.
He pointed to the collar of his shirt and said firmly, “top button.”
As anyone who has ever owned a dress shirt knows, if you don’t get the top button right, the whole garment goes askew: it doesn’t look or fit as it should.
The way the CEO saw it, a brand is like a dress shirt, with the top button being the smart, sustainable idea on which the brand – and ultimately the business – is built. For this CEO, no concept – no matter how clever or crowd-pleasing – was worth getting behind unless it was anchored to a unifying and powerful brand idea.
We couldn’t agree more.
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