Nik Kouzes is Creative Director at Introworks. In addition to his creative directorial chops, he’s an accomplished illustrator, mimic, movie buff and serial Comic-Con attendee. He has seen The Force Awakens seven times.
What role does creative play in the launch process?
Launching is both a strategic and creative initiative. It takes a creative approach to translate the strategic intent of a launch. At Introworks, creative develops what we call the “Catalytic Idea”. This is the fuel that makes the difference between connecting with an audience and missing the mark. Also creative provides the energy that gets internal stakeholders excited and external audiences interested in what you have to offer.
Where do you see the strongest opportunities for engaging audiences today?
Mobile. Consumers have access to people and communities that are trying to solve the same problems as they are. So whose content are they taking in? If you’re not doing anything to guide people, then most likely someone else is. The opportunity for marketers is to connect with audiences by generating relevant, rich content that provides a remarkable experience or demonstrates a valuable solution.
How do you go about creating experiences that change behavior?
It starts with understanding what problem we are really trying to solve. If the problem statement sounds something like, “We need to increase sales of the X9000 Series,” then you’ve got more work to do. You have to get to the problem you are solving for your customer (and your customer’s customer.) Once you understand that, it’s a matter of creating and providing them with tools that help them discover their blind spots and arrive at their own “ah-ha” moment.
How does creative deliver value in the B2B space?
Strategy and messaging are highly valued in B2B, and sometimes the creative translation is brought “in-house” or not done at all. This is like having a mission and a map with no vehicle to get you there. Creative is essential to delivering a message. Even more so in B2B, as companies default to leading with logic-based product features in what is really an emotion-based conversation, where we are talking about people’s jobs and livelihood.
Not all creative is made equal either. A lot of companies use “creative” as a catchall for anything that’s designed. It is much more than that. You have to translate the strategic framework into a compelling idea. And it takes minds that are wired a certain way to do it.
How have the challenges of B2B advertising changed since you started at Introworks?
Nobody likes to be advertised to, except people in advertising. It’s always there, and in some form I think it always will be. However, more direct, user-specific communication is where things are going. Fortunately, because of the mobile medium we have unprecedented direct access to our audiences. The challenge is to strike a more meaningful conversation with one specific individual. This puts tremendous focus on having a better and more intimate understanding of your audience, beyond their role in the sales process.
What superhero has the best brand?
Depends on what “best” is. If we’re talking about brand identity in the superhero world, DC Comics has a stronger legacy of using symbols for their brand design, than Marvel Comics.
For me personally, Batman’s got the win, with Superman in a close second. If we’re talking about global reputation, it’s definitely Superman with Spider-man in second place.
What does Star Wars teach us about launch?
I have a lot to say about this, so I’ll rein it in for now.
When you look at all the effort, time, focus, rigor, and diligence that goes into launching, you could relate it to the small band of Rebels that were trying to overthrow the evil galactic Empire.
Like many companies today, the Rebel Alliance in Star Wars were trying to do a lot with very little resources and the odds were stacked against them. But they had a few powerful things on their side: A strategy, a plan and something called The Force.
This is similar to the components you need in order to increase your odds for success in launch, think of The Force as the Introworks variable. “Luke, use The Trajectory Launch Process™”
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