What’s in a line? In the agency world we pursue lines like they are rare diamonds. And sometimes they are. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ and Apple’s ‘Think Different’ are lines that have become iconic statements. Great lines are the ones that really capture the essence of an organization and therefore truly mean something. In this way, Inspired by Understanding (IBU) is a great line for m5. It allows us in a concise way to explain both internally and externally what we stand for. So everyone within m5 understands and moves in the same direction. In essence, living our brand.
So where does the belief in this line come from? I was 24 years old when I started m5, on my own just trying to survive. Most of the early jobs we landed were for small retail clients. If there is something you learn quickly in retail, it’s succeed or die. Using my marketing research background I concluded that, with a deep understanding, we were able to develop campaigns that worked a lot better. But I also recognized that we could have deep understanding and a campaign could still falter if it wasn’t compelling. Eventually I realized to get the best results, we needed to merge both understanding and inspiration in the product we offered. Together, like ebony and ivory on a piano, we were able to create great music – great campaigns that really worked. Inspired By Understanding was born, though we didn’t brand it that way in the early days.
So, let me explain Inspired by Understanding a little further. We deeply understand the client/client’s product. How do we do that? We dig deep. We research, both primary and secondary, whenever possible. As the agency Young and Rubicam said many years ago ‘a person who digs deep often comes up with the pay dirt’. Like building a house, the foundation is key. Watching concrete pour may seem boring, but anyone who builds a house knows how important it is to get it right. Our foundation is our understanding.
Once we have a good understanding then we are able to strategize how to accomplish the client’s objectives. It has often been said that every war was won or lost before it began. This is certainly true for advertising campaigns. Precise and well thought out strategy often leads to a more effective final product. But the final product has to be both strategic and creative. Time and time again we have proven this to be true.
At m5, the creative teams are inspired to create great work but all within a strategic discipline. Robert Frost once said “what is the sense of playing tennis with the net down?” Similarly, what is the sense of crafting exceptionally creative work that does not accomplish the client’s objectives? Our IBU approach is how we ensure we play great tennis, within the rules and with the net up. This allows our creative teams to do what they do best, as long as it is on strategy.
Inspired By Understanding is the core of what m5 stands for. We live and breathe it. It is why we exist; how we’ve grown consistently; the way we will continue to be successful in the future.
CEO, group m5
President, m5 Marketing Communications