I attended the first half of the IPA's Fast Strategy event earlier in the week. There were a number of great presentation but two stood out for me, the first was Adam Morgan, he of Eat Big Fish fame. Adam spoke about the value of brands identifying a monster to battle, these could be other companies, processes, the status-quo. A great example is Method who's entire business is based around fighting toxicity in the home. Amongst other things, Method created pop up stores where people can exchange their toxic products for Method products, in an amazing piece of theatre, the products they leave behind are removed by someone in a chemical protection suit.
Other examples of brands, people, organisations, identifying monsters are LoveFilm who fight the whole DVD rental process, Channel Four with Jamie's School Dinners and Oprah who has maintained her number one spot by constantly championing community monsters such as obesity.
To help you find a monster, Adam suggests exploring the 7 types of conflict found in stories; men v women, man v nature, man v machine etc. The value of a monster to a brand is that they threaten not just an individual but a whole community. Having this narrative of conflict to rub up against is powerful as it can highlight your own strengths and, let's face it, harnessing your consumers to fight a monster should be fun.
Richard Storey from M&C Saatchi gave one of the most useful presentation I've ever heard. A simple list of top tips on how to find a strategy quickly, here goes:
Don't goal hog (leave something for the creatives to do)
Don't expect to get it brilliantly right (choose a route and go with it)
Turn the task into a challenge (sell more Shredded Wheat became can you eat three?)
Find the real problem
Be precise about what it is you want people to do
Prioritise one audience
Admire your audience (PG celebrated tea drinkers British stoicism)
Eddie Izzard's Secret (an insight is something you know, but don't know you know)
Find one fact
Redefine the competition (no frills airlines)
No idea, no strategy (develop creative alongside strategy)
Beware of fat words (quality, care trust - use more precise words)
Fish somewhere new (if the client is always looking in the provenance hole try something else)
Switch Categories (100% Pure New Zealand came from imagining NZ was a soap powder)
It's the beat you leave out (edit out the guff)
Scribbles look better when worked up
Keep your arse on the chair until you have an answer