For The Brain
Marketing Strategy

What It Takes to Launch Your First Brand Campaign

What It Takes to Launch Your First Brand Campaign

Kelly Wrather

Vice President, Marketing Services

March 21, 2024

Our clients at Cognitiv, the first Deep Learning Advertising Platform, came to us with a bold goal: make an eye-catching statement with the launch of their first brand campaign. When a company’s primary color palette includes a vibrant, on-trend pink, you know they are not going to shy away from being fun and playful. And Manual Labor was more than up for the task!

Cognitiv has been leveraging deep learning in advertising for nearly a decade —long before AI became the industry’s darling buzzword. Like many B2B technology companies, Cognitiv knew how to talk about its products and deploy lower funnel campaigns to drive conversions. What was missing was the emotional brand connection — the feeling people associated with Cognitiv and what it could do for them inside the four walls of work and beyond.

Making a big brand splash doesn’t happen overnight. It takes strategy and exploration to uncover the themes, content, and creative expressions that will achieve your goals and capture the imagination of audiences. 

In honor of Cognitiv’s new brand campaign, here are five best practices to help you make the most of your first brand campaign launch. 

Deploy structured brainstorming

Brainstorming is a necessary step to collect inspirations, determine campaign creative expectations, and get those participating in a campaign excited for what is to come. While brainstorming is often depicted as loose and free flowing, the most successful sessions are structured in nature.  

For some tips within a tip, here are a few reminders for setting up a creative workshop: 

  • Set the goal. Determine what you aim to achieve through the brainstorming session. Are you seeking new ideas, solutions to a specific challenge, or creative approaches to a project? Build the brief to clearly communicate these goals to participants, so they understand the purpose and can contribute effectively.
  • Define the rules. Establish guidelines for time allocation and remind participants of the key communication principles to ensure a productive and respectful environment. A workshop facilitator can help manage these logistics before, during, and after the session.
  • Share materials in advance. Send the agenda, background materials, and instructions to participants before the session, including links and instructions to platforms you may be using to facilitate the session, (our team loves Figjam!) so the session itself can be productive from the onset. 
  • Communicate inspirations and prior research. Similar to the above, if there are any ideas, concepts, or research relevant to the brainstorming session, share them with participants in advance.

Brainstorming sessions will help you find patterns and threads you may want to follow. Some insights might include: how you want to use humor or data in your campaign; the interplay between creative + copy; and so much more.  In real-time you can group similar ideas together to hone in on working campaign concept areas.

Evolve ideas and iterate quickly

In campaign development, you can’t be too precious about ideas. As they say, don’t be afraid to “kill your darlings.” During brainstorming and concepting, you may come up with compelling ideas, but those may not always fit the brief of what you are trying to accomplish for this campaign.

In early stages, editing and iterating will help you reach your concept direction faster. In this process you may come across viable ideas that can be used for other campaigns or marketing projects. Those items should be moved to a parking lot that you can explore at a later date. 

It is also important to know when you have pushed an idea as far as it can go. Pushing pixels and words round and round may be a sign that you’ve exhausted a concept and it’s time to move on. If you get to this point, it’s good to go back to: what was it about this direction that you initially liked and what wasn’t working. These reflections will help you get to the next iteration quicker.

Push beyond the expected

When seeking inspiration, look outside your competitive set and industry. For this campaign, we had a good sense of what a B2B marketing campaign typically looks like, but our inspirations drew from all over: consumer brands, CPG, retail, finance, startups, high tech, and much more. While marketing a physical product may take a much different form than how you would market a technology or services play, you can apply principles and adapt them to your audiences and goals. 

Additionally, don’t be afraid to leverage new techniques in design processes. The Manual Labor team leveraged AI tools on our design process for Cognitiv to further push on conceptual ideas, allowing our designers to get more imaginative in how we could interpret and visualize the concept. This is a great example of how AI can be additive as a collaborator to our creative processes, amplifying the brand storytelling we were communicating. 

Build for flexibility

Designing for a multichannel, multi-format campaign means needing to be flexible in your designs and layout. Part of the process is understanding how something will look on everywhere from a small digital banner to interactive subway ads to an expansive billboard. Creating campaigns with modular elements will allow you to prioritize decisions as you go from concept to mockups. Seeing a design come to life in various formats will allow you to consider how motion graphics, creative builds, and animations can also add to the storytelling process. 

Launch with confidence

You’ve gone through all that strategizing, planning, and development so now it’s time to launch. For as much as this relies on the activation of media partners and the spec production of your assets, there is also the critical piece of building the internal hype and promotion for a launch like this.

Launching with confidence doesn’t just mean your assets were delivered to vendors, landing pages were launched, and your budgets are turned on.  A campaign may be launched on a specific day but impact requires a regular drip of promotion and an intentional cadence of marketing creative to support and remind audiences .And, they need the internal champions to be the advocates for the work. So that way, when you measure the brand lift, the social engagement, the website traffic, you can carry on the message and investment into the power of brand campaigns.

Thank you to our partners at Cognitiv for allowing us to be more creativ with them. If you’re interested  in investing in your brand through Manual Labor, drop us a line.


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