Marketing Campaign Themes

Product launches. Social media promotions. Tradeshow exhibits. Fundraising campaigns. Annual reports. Employee communications. Whatever your marketing initiative, a clever, creative theme will often deliver more effective results.

Politicians clearly understand the power of themes. They use them to generate excitement around issues that might otherwise lull constituents to sleep. Why? Because themes inspire audiences. Simplify the complex. Infuse familiar ideas with fresh energy.

Here are six nonpartisan tips to make your marketing campaign themes a winner — with all your constituents.

1. Be creative

Think of fresh, fun ways to articulate your message. “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose,” former New York Governor Mario Cuomo once said.

Use metaphors to jump-start your imagination. Think in images. Exaggerate ideas to ridiculous extremes. Explore concepts you wouldn’t traditionally associate with your brand. Don’t be afraid of creative thinking that demands your attention. It often results in themes that demand attention, too.

2. Be concise

Short and sweet. The more concise your theme, the more memorable it will be. Two words have captured the spirit of Mini Cooper enthusiasts. Three words have sold countless pairs of Nikes. Five words asked by the Verizon guy have become a catchphrase. If your theme has to be longer, craft the language carefully — with alliteration and rhythm. The best themes roll right off the tongue.

3. Be original

As flattering as imitation can be, the most successful themes are truly original. Borrowing someone else’s creative idea may result in short-term interest, but it might also lead to legal trouble. Conversely, if you create a unique theme, consider trademarking it. Everyone’s seen endless variations of the “Got Milk?” theme because it was never protected. These “Got Fill-in-the-Blank?” knock-offs are fatiguing. If they’ve been successful, it’s been in making people thirst for the original.

4. Be inclusive

If your goal is to excite customers, create a theme that also excites employees. Nothing spreads the word better than a theme hundreds of employees are repeating. A clever, inclusive theme turns employees into ambassadors of your message, increasing its authenticity and staying power.

When launches, exhibits, and campaigns fail, it’s often because employees aren’t able to relate to customer communications — or vice versa. The best themes appeal to what employees and customers have in common.

5. Be relevant

Want a theme that audiences will remember long after your ad campaign or product launch is over? Make it relevant to people’s lives. Appeal to their emotions. Invite them to participate in something larger than themselves. Customers, prospects, and employees alike respond more favorably to a theme that isn’t simply about your next delivery date or bottom-line goal.

For example, “Make It Better” clearly articulates the fundraising goal of a healthcare capital campaign while appealing to powerful emotions we’ve all felt since childhood.

6. Be positive

A theme can encourage desired actions — and change unwanted behaviors. But that’s no reason to get negative. Creating a positive theme is an easy way to make the most of your motivational opportunity. Offer your audiences something inspirational. Help them feel better about themselves — and better about your organization or your product. Whether they do what you want them to or not, they’ll appreciate your positive message.