Monday, August 11, 2008

Definition of smart?

I have a homework project to answer the question: what is your definition of smart? The task paper says "throughout life we have all used the word smart to describe a multitude of people, places, things, and ideas. In the world of advertising, this word followed by a brand name or campaign title has become the epitome of success for agencies and brands across the globe, yet it remains largely undefined."

When I think of smart, these brands come to mind: Google, Nike, Macintosh, and Barack Obama (Starbucks would be on this list, but I feel the brand's situation is sort of hush-hush these days, do we really want to talk about how bad it's doing? :( ). These four brands represent simplistic function, authentic intentions, forward-thinking activism, consistent personalities, and are both a mirror to society and change-makers. I think this is my definition of smart, now that I laid it out.

Does smart have value? To answer this, I ask you is brand loyalty worth something? And your answer should be damn right, I want cheezy poofs!

Does smart depend solely on its audience? I would say no. A smart brand, to me, is a brand whose smartness stands independently of its said actions which have an intended audience. A smart brand is holistically smart: smart intentions, smart mission, smart moves, thereby summoning a smart audience. :)

And there we have it. My opinion on what smart means in the world of branding.


Kyle Studstill said...

Outside of the advertising world, there has been a long history of trying to pin down what things like "smart" is, reaching to interesting studies of intelligence and how people use their intelligence to interact with the world. I think that in a lot of ways we in the advertising and planning world are engaged in the same kind of study, constantly trying to get a hold onto what trends click and why, what brands make connections and why. I think that's what you've kind of touched on here, that smart brands are able to relate to consumers on a level that makes sense to them - that may be through personality, though real customer service, or by connecting with that deep desire to experience something new and innovative.

That's what smart branding is to me - a kind of understanding of these things. An understanding of what true motivations and desires exist in human nature, so that those connections can be made at levels on which people really relate. And I think you kind of get at it a bit there, with what you're saying about being "holistically smart." Thanks for inspiring a bit of interesting thinking.

Paul McEnany said...

what is a smart brand?

That's a damn good question, there, Erin. Especially considering smart brands sometimes do stupid things, and stupid brands sometimes do things well. How much of a part does making money play? Is Exxon a smart brand?

Or maybe brands aren't stupid or smart. They are just an amalgamation of the things that they do, with sometimes the good outweighing the bad. So designing the iPhone for apple is good, but customer service issues knock them down a couple pegs. Or wikipedia is a great brand because it never really set out to be a brand in the first place, but just did something really smart.

Okay, so here it is. Smart brands are those that work single-mindedly to be the best at whatever they do best...