18 Jun When Rule-Breaking Works
Time and time again, a rush of new ideas or a better way of doing things tends to come about most often when a society’s back is against the wall. When rules get broken, people start doing interesting things. Daring things.
The key characteristics of the world’s most innovative companies are usually risk-taking, willingness to experiment, human-centric design and fast decision making. But in Southeast Asia, we see a world still dominated by rule followers. Slow and sure companies that are losing the race. In a region full of square pegs, it’s better to be round.
But at BAD, we’re not into breaking the rules for the sake of breaking the rules – even if we are a gang of villainous creatives, crafty camera crews and sinister strategists. We approach every task from a new perspective by bending, molding and interpreting the rules as we go.
Break The Rules And Measure Success
There may come a time when breaking a rule results in failure. But in our experience, something good usually comes out of it. Brands are often too scared of things they can’t quantify, leaving them incapable of taking that first step.
The idea of “I want to see what other companies are doing and replicate that” is all too familiar to us at BAD. To that mindset we say: You’re not that company. Your customers are different. Your path is different. You’re not constrained to their rules.
For businesses in Southeast Asia, digital presence is likely to be your most prominent visual brand expression. And although it may be tempting to try and apply rigid brand guidelines to everything you produce, only break-through content is internalized in our age of passive consumption.
Habit Kills Creativity
We also notice that both brands and branding agencies hired to help them slip into a habitual motion of rinse and repeat. When working with a client for a long time, it can be an easy rut to get stuck in. We try to avoid the mud by forcing new angles and new perspectives on our approach – even if what we’re doing is working well. Because there’s always a better way out there.
Although it may be tempting to try and apply rigid brand guidelines to everything you produce, only break-through content is internalized in our age of passive consumption.
As a team of BAD creatives, we have created a culture where our team can take risks, and our management supports them. Working closely with our clients and encouraging them to be BAD as well, we believe that turning that risk into a success is the cornerstone of great brand development.
Competitors may have intelligent ideas and big budgets, but trying to replicate or chase their tail will never allow your brand to get in front. Even if your brand offers something better than the competitor, we’ve discovered that better is actually worse. It’s the difference that matters most.
Keep it Real
Breaking tone or style only works when well executed, and there’s a fine line between order and chaos. Whether your authorization processes are fast and reactive or slow and bureaucratic, finding ways to break free from convention will help a brand stand out.
But that’s not to say your brand loses its authenticity when it tries something different and unexpected. On the contrary, given the over-saturation of the digital landscape, consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Zs – seek out real messaging. Real people. And authentic conversations.
Even if your brand offers something better than the competitor, we’ve discovered that better is actually worse. It’s the difference that matters most.
Real creativity – the kind that makes things, and makes them better than before – has to take root in every level of an organization. And the key is to know that everything is up for reevaluation – everything except your core values. But at BAD, even we can find the odd exception.
When Our Rule Breaking Paid Off
As you would expect with any multinational corporation, the brand guidelines for Manulife are robust, precise and comprehensive. With little space to break the rules, we took a different approach.
Working with the brand’s Myanmar office, we found ways to disrupt interpretations of the brand guidelines to produce something that would connect with their audience in a new way. The result was an IMC that included a new set of product brochures, digital marketing campaigns and a TVC that shared a meaningful narrative that followed a child’s future, full of possibilities thanks to Manulife.
Working closely with Manulife, we carefully found ways to push the boundaries of what we could achieve, ensuring that their omnichannel marketing strategy was successful and impactful. Our unique and stylish work offered a new approach to traditional insurance marketing – all the while adhering to their well-developed brand guidelines. Sometimes to break the rules, it’s better to bend them first.
Nescafe Shal Kaw
When targeting specific markets, there can be a common misinterpretation of what the audience enjoys. Working with Nestle, we decided to go against the common consensus that Myanmar consumers react best to a product-driven advertisement. We took a risk with a series of story-focused TVCs to launch a new coffee blend tailored to the taste of the local consumers.
Ignoring the warnings that we should stick to more traditional approaches, we broke the rules and helped make Shal Kaw a household name. Our successful and disruptive approach built momentum for the brand and even established a new premium price benchmark in the process.