As a part of my series about “How to Create a Trusted and Believable Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nick Platt.
As the CEO and Chief Creative Officer of LO:LA, Nick Platt is carrying out a lifelong ambition to not only re-imagine advertising creative that resonates but is also “Made with Love.” With a career spanning two continents and three decades, Nick Platt creates magic in the moments that matter.
Prior to founding LO:LA Nick was Executive Creative Director at RAPP, responsible for all creative output produced in the agency’s Los Angeles office, including creative campaigns for clients such as Toyota, Nescafe, Bank of America, Flemings, Roy’s, and Mattel as well as pro bono work for the Special Olympics and Stand Up to Cancer, among many others. His particular focus was on delivering creative solutions that are simple, relevant and original. He also worked in that role for the past 14 years, 6 years of which he spent in RAPP’s London office, where he was responsible for managing accounts including NSPCC, Apple, Sony, Barclays Bank, and CRUK. During his 30 years of experience in advertising and direct marketing, he has worked at a range of prominent agencies, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Proximity, and TBWA\GGT, among others. He has won numerous industry awards, including the Grand Prix at the New York Festivals, Gold at the ECHOs, D&AD, John Caples, DMAs and London International Advertising Awards.
Nick is proudly a big agency ex-pat determined to prove that independent creative shops can be nimble, fast and cost-efficient without sacrificing quality. He’s making outstanding advertising available.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Creativity was always something that was part of my life, I always loved art and problem solving, it was something that just fascinated me. As a creative this was always who I was, what I did and what I wanted to do. To then have taken the step to manifest that by creating my own agency is, to me, the best expression of my life-long passion for creative problem solving.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I almost went to prison for believing whole heartily in something that was an opinion-changing idea. I learned in real time the power of great ideas and the responsibility to deliver them in the right context. Connecting with people in a relevant way is the ultimate goal of everything we are striving for at LO:LA.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Made with love is our mantra, I know anyone can say that, but we really try to live by it. It’s embedded into our framework for what we develop and share with our clients and enables is to provide them with the best solutions. And once we are all invested in this philosophy, processes and outcomes become clearer.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Everything is exciting! But right now, the process of helping our clients stay meaningful to their customers is our focus. Context has changed, yet people haven’t. The imperative to remain real and helpful is driving all our thinking.
We have just finished a film for one of our clients that wants to acknowledge the power of the enforced loneliness of COVID-19, how it can be a time of great renewal, and understanding that what we do next as people and brands will shape our collective futures, coming out from this we can be stronger.
Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?
To us that is simple, there should be no difference as they are irrevocably linked. But it must start with the brand. The brand story must be on point in order for product marketing to happen. A brand is a promise kept, while advertising is how that promise is expressed. Finding the place of alignment of where the truth of your brand and the most important thing a customer feels is what we look for. Once you have achieved this, the simple and quantifiable things like aesthetics, tone and performance become easy and measurable. Our goal is to help everyone come together to express the idea in a more cohesive and aligned way. Too many times there isn’t a sense of common purpose or focus on a mutually understood outcome. It is the brand idea that ties it all together. When brand marketing is true and right, the product marketing is then simple. Nike has been brilliant at making product ads and brand ads one in the same.
Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?
I believe history speaks for itself. When you look at the brands who were rigorous at putting the brand idea first, then you see how many became successful, how many thrived. Any business that has a desire to create efficiencies and believes in a strong and singular brand will win. We refer to this notion as the new ‘ROI’ or ‘RETURN ON IDEAS’. As marketers we are tasked with helping brands become profitable and remembered, we think this becomes paramount in how they behave to drive success.
Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand?
This isn’t so much an example as an observation of the times we find ourselves in. Right now, in the time of the pandemic, the whole idea of “in this together’ and “we have your back” can be received as empty statements and may come back to bite a brand, unless that brand fulfills on those promises.
Say one thing well, say it often, and don’t deviate. Staying true to your brand voice and tone are crucial. And in times of uncertainty, there is a human urge to make different choices, chase or do things that might be different to how you would normally. We urge brands to have the discipline to hold true to who they are, this is key to remaining relevant in the minds of customers. Your brand idea should be a guiding light in good times and even more so in challenging times.
Never brag. Simple rule, but if observed, it will help your brand become more empathetic and respected. We always try to advise our clients against shouting loudly about their product when offering a softer, yet more empathic approach, can be much more effective.
Be generous with everything, always. Your perspective. Your product. Your whole self. Showing the world, you are worth sharing is important, an open and inclusive perspective.
If generosity becomes a brand mantra, then it is only natural to be welcoming and inclusive. And we feel this is an important step in creating harmony and loyalty with customers. Participation is key in helping the future of a brand, to make it something that is co-created and opening new and undiscovered innovation for the brand.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
There are many brands that have done (and are currently doing) a great job of authenticity, being who they are, making their brand believed and wanted right now. The shift and pivot from COVID has produced some interesting examples of this. Clorox, already the go-to authority on cleanliness, has deepened that notion by partnering with other brands who have a point to prove and a customer base to reassure.
Personally, I love those brands that have truly put their money where their mouth is. Brands like REI will always resonant with me for their ambition to celebrate ‘the outdoors’, to cherish it above all. Articulating that by actions like closing on Black Friday (because of their fundamental belief ‘That being in nature is more important’) is such a wonderful and powerful articulation of their brand idea, and it resonated with customers.
In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?
Brand success is the ultimate success, crafting a position and tone that connects time and time again. Every brand message is an advert and every avert is a brand message- the point is simple, they are inextricably linked, one needs the other.
What role does social media play in your branding efforts?
Social media is crucial in the success of a brand today. The discipline needed is to master continuity in messaging and staying true to the brand.
What advice would you give to other marketers or business leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
Breathe. I wish I could say the job wasn’t everything but taking the time to look around and appreciate what is around you is important, life has so much more to offer.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Make everything with LOVE. Make this your single rule and you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The quote that I really like is “A rising tide floats every boat”. If we all think in this way, to look to help each other, then it can create opportunities and produce benefits for many and in ways we haven’t even thought of yet.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Hamdi Ulukaya- Founder of Chobani. I found his Ted Talk truly inspiring.