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How to Talk to Creative People About Branding

by Steve McNamara  |  
July 26, 2005

You've seen this scenario: Helen Chan, Queen of Client Services, walks all excited into the office of Andy Oz, the recently hired King of Creative. Her hands are animated as she announces, "We're pitching MegaGlobal in two weeks! We need a Big Brand Idea!"

Andy looks up and removes his glasses. "Cool" he says, as he wonders, What the %#*! does she mean, Big Brand Idea?

Cut to you, right now, reading at your monitor.

Yes, you.

Here's a pop quiz. Define "brand." Go ahead, jot something down. And if you're really clever, define "Big Brand Idea." I'll wait.

All done?

Back to Helen and Andy, two days later. They are sitting around a marble conference table with several art directors, copywriters and assorted planners—the usual crowd on The Pitching Team.

Helen Clears her throat, smiles at Andy, and says, "Our new creative guru here has asked me to explain what I mean by Big Brand Idea."

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Steve McNamara is a freelance ad guy and the publisher of He has been a creative director and copywriter at JWT, BBDO, and, on the client side, at Capital One. Reach him at

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