While recently chatting with Anna Powell, Influence Health’s smart, savvy Vice President of Marketing, she asked what may be one of the best all-time questions of a candidate who deals with creative in terms of marketing brand identity:
“What’s your favorite brand and why?”
Further clarification, it could be a brand you’ve developed, worked on, or simply one your admire.
Here is why this is, in my humble option, is brilliant: It gives the interviewer insight on how the interviewee thinks about brand creative, what is their process, their logic, what type of fit they may have within the organization.
Mind you, there is no right or wrong answer per se, choosing a brand one admires should make or break a potential future employee, rather, what and how they see it. This question is many times better than the standard “tell me about a difficult time you [insert person, project, etc.]…” or using situational behavioral questions. Creatives often develop ideas from intangibles not easily categorized, from a combination of experience and intuition, this doesn’t often have a pat answer of why “sales of X went from Y to Z.” If those sales were based on an ad campaign or a rebranding based on an idea, it’s hard to quantify that. Most great brands came not following a formula, but from an instinct, so to ask how a branding person sees their own or other brands gives an insight of why you want them in your corner.
I’ll take it a step further and say, if you’re reviewing agencies to work with for your company or organization, it also may be of great insight to ask them what brands they admire, again, not necessarily ones they’ve worked on, to see how their minds work, and to give you a sense if you want to work for them or not.
It’s a brilliant question if one is in marketing, branding, design, advertising, or really any career where crafting and perfecting a brand and it’s management is a large part of the focus gaining potentially fantastic insight.
Oh, and my answer, favorite brand is Apple, Inc. Specifically the clean design permeating everything from advertising to packaging, software to hardware functionally, during the company’s second rise to success under Steve Jobs from 1997 to circa 2012. As a firm believer in Albert Einstein’s interpretation of Occam’s Razor “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but not simpler,” Apple embodied a brand that was clean, timeless, and where simplicity took precedent. Another way it’s put, making complex things is easy, making simple things is hard, what Apple did was in fact very challenging, but their extraordinarily difficult efforts paid off and to most the world, it looked easy, to us insiders, it was anything but.
With Steve Jobs firmly at the helm they created magic. From TBWA/Chiat/Day – responsible for Think Different and iPod silhouette ad campaigns with their iconic simplicity – to their website, clean both from a design and a coding perspective – to the way a child can pick up an iPad and, within seconds, understand the basics of how they operate, Apple as an entity was a brand that, for a period of over a decade, seldom had hiccups. Everything they did, everything they focused on, had an attention to detail eliminating anything extraneous that didn’t matter to their products, packaging, advertising… everything. Make everything simple, make it beautiful, make everything timeless, and make it work. It was that level of attention which propelled them to one of the most valued brands in the world.
Their secret was brand management, execution, and excellence on every level. It’s what myself and the best brand creatives should wish to bring to the table with an organization as an employee or as an agency.