How communication makes a lasting impression
BY JOACHIM FISCHER
These days, if you want to achieve effective communication, you should not rely solely on state-of-the-art technologies or even the best-possible creative ideas. The key to today’s communication lies in the intelligent combination of both technology and creativity.
Düsseldorf-based agency Kontrast Communication was founded in 1991, at a time when the communication landscape was totally different to what it is now. Back then, agencies were divided into two camps: on one side there were ad agencies that provided their clients with solid consulting and devised clever strategies for executing successful advertising campaigns. On the other side were the creative agencies, where spectacular concepts were produced for campaigns that were not only successful but also highly visible. Since then, absolutely everything about global communication has changed. So it stands to reason that neither campaign strategy will still achieve the desired result on its own.
Because it is not only the media landscape which has been drastically transformed by today’s rapidly evolving technologies, from the internet to smartphones to digitalisation. These changing paradigms are changing everything about the way people communicate, perceive, and interact with each other, and also what role brands, products and services play in their lives. Today’s brands are expected to add noticeable value and enrich the lives of their consumers every day. And now brands have to fight for every second the customer wants to spend with them.
Therefore, brand communication needs to meet two goals in order to be successful: create relevance and reach the right people, which is becoming a dauntingly complex task in the face of increasing fragmentation of target groups with a growing number of communication channels. The consequences for the global agency market are epochal. In addition to the full-service agencies, there is a rising number of niche or specialised agencies popping up on the media horizon. From digital marketing agencies to social media management specialists and app development companies, every new technology and every new trend is evolving into a new business field and launched on the market.
As a result, the services provided by classical advertising agencies were split up between the various agency types. While the established agencies were still in charge of producing creative campaigns, specialised agencies were often a better fit for adaptations to new communication channels. For the most part, this division of creativity and technological expertise was not very successful. Not only was there fierce economic rivalry between the agencies, there was also widespread disagreement on what defined strategic, relevant and effective communication.
Kontrast Communication recognised this challenge very early on and immediately began restructuring the agency to fit the new paradigms. At Kontrast, there is no competition between the use of new technologies and the power of creative ideas. On the contrary: we have used the symbioses of technology and creativity to generate added value right from the start. At Kontrast this is called “createering”. A part of createering is made up of technological components. Here, the virtually endless possibilities for crafting, personalising and distributing communication are consistently implemented.
An equally important role is played by creative components, because only by combining the added value generated for brands, products and services through excellent creative ideas, strategies, concepts and campaigns is it possible to achieve what the company sees as the essence of successful communication: overwhelming, compelling and convincing solutions that turn people into customers.
And although createering is the foundation of all the work that is done at Kontrast, the individual solutions couldn’t be more different. For example, the company has taken the challenge of maximising efficiency and transformed it into a brilliant agency product named Spheer: an infrastructure for the fully automated generation of content for all kinds of media, target audiences and occasions. Spheer individually tailors, continually optimises and intelligently distributes this customised content to all the various touchpoints. This solution is based equally on technological expertise and creative implementation of the latest know-how on communication mechanisms in a range of digital channels.
Another example of how createering produces innovative solutions: when faced with the challenge of promoting and organising communication while boosting loyalty among local dealers across Germany for one of the world’s leading mobile network operators, Kontrast created a digital toolbox to solve the problem. Specially developed creative concepts are made available via a technical platform to enable dealers to call up tailor-made sales assistance, a solution that ultimately generated added value for the dealers.
There is no end to the list of solutions invented by this company using the intelligent and well-balanced combination of technology and creativity. Current examples include a content campaign for a health insurance company, POS tools and brochures for an international fashion group, a rebranding campaign for an organic dairy, the launch of own brands for a leading manufacturer of pet food, and global communication for a new business unit of a B2B company, to name but a few.
What createering means for the self-image of Kontrast is fundamental to all these projects: technology creates the platform for the communication, but it is creativity that brings in the added value. The actual intention of the communication isn’t achieved until both factors are ideally combined: moving people and making sure that they’re interested in brands, products and services. Forming an emotional bond with them. Getting them to fall in love. And inspiring their loyalty.
But since even the best plan can fail if not properly organised, Kontrast invariably implements its createering with an agile approach. And this is not meant as a buzzword, but rather a complete reorientation of the working processes and principles. Interdisciplinary teams are continuously trained by renowned coaches on how to implement agile methodologies, while at the same time agile values and ceremonies are introduced into daily routines throughout the agency.
The effect is not only a significant boost of efficiency that enables more output in less time with improved quality, but rather a completely new awareness for turning challenges into solutions. Creativity in the tackling of new challenges is just as important as flexibility when putting together teams, the elimination of inflexible hierarchies and the use of agile methods such as Kanban or Srcum for organising all projects.
By introducing agility, Kontrast has built a solid foundation for combining data, knowledge, talent and resources to provide the best possible solution for every client, which is what forms the basis for createering. This way, Kontrast Communication shows exactly how modern communication works.
Founded in 1991, Kontrast Communication is an owner-run solutions agency, today offering – with a staff of around 150 – a comprehensive portfolio of communications solutions across all touchpoints, from classical campaigning and digital solutions all the way through to highly-customised client solutions.
Kontrast Communication GmbH
This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q2 2017. Picture credit © Getty Images / Henrik Sorensen