Dave Wessling, one of my all-time most influential teachers, shared many comments that have shaped my thinking in so many ways. One that’s particularly relevant recently is, “Form should reinforce meaning.” It’s a great rule to apply when developing and assessing creative material against an underlying strategy.

The principle basically challenges you to consider everything (i.e., color, position, sequence, pacing, volume, length, vocabulary, position, shape, movement, tonality, etc.) surrounding a communications message (the form) relative to how strongly it supports the meaning of the message being conveyed. Substitute “creative” for “form” and “strategy” for “meaning” and you have a maxim you can use over and over again:

“Creative should reinforce strategy.”

You’ll never go wrong applying this principle in business, and particularly in marketing decision making. It’s especially helpful in an environment where people are advancing interesting, intriguing, even cool creative ideas that have little to do with any underlying strategy foundation.

Asking if the creative reinforces the strategy at the appropriate time (i.e., during a specific evaluation period and NOT during a divergent thinking exercise), will lead to making better strategy decisions and producing messages with stronger impacts. - Mike Brown