viral video

How Funky Brands can be creative: 7 insights from the Creativity Forum in Antwerp

A cake by Taarten Van Abel, a creative company mentioned during the conference. I thought it would be a good symbol for female creativity

A cake by Taarten Van Abel

On Thursday, I attended an event dedicated to creativity. The conference took place in Antwerp and was organized by an organization called Flanders District of Creativity. This year, Flanders DC gave the stage to creative and inspirational women.

Creativity fuels Funky Brands — innovative, edgy, contemporary products and services that stand out from the crowd. Funky Brands are worth experiencing over and over again, and importantly, bring positive functional and emotional benefits to those who use them.

For examples of Funky Brands, visit the Funky Brand Interviews section.

Here is my summary of 7 insights from the event that can be applied to Funky Brands:

Image by pumpkincat210 on Flickr


Women’s signature style of doing business can be referred to as lifestyle entrepreneurship. This means that often, women’s main motivation behind starting a business is not just cash, but first and foremost, creating value for their customers.

If you are a team of men, invite at least one talented woman who will surely bring a different perspective to your business.


Randi Zuckerberg, who’s in charge of the Creative Marketing department of Facebook, gave examples of authentic ways in which Facebook has communicated with its members.

In a short case study, Randi demonstrated a difference in reaction from Facebook fans to two photos of celebrity Eva Longoria. One photo of Eva was pure glam, whereas in another shot she looked more like someone you’d meet on the street rather than red carpet. Interestingly, the simple photo raised a massive wave of “likes” on Facebook. This taught Facebook itself to use friendly, amateur-like images of its employees in the company’s communications campaigns.

Don’t exclude glamorous and stylish visual expressions of your brand, but it’s worth exploring more authentic ways of connecting to real people, at least once in a while.

Here’s an image that captures the main points of Randi’s presentation:

Image courtesy of Visual Harvesting

Image courtesy of Visual Harvesting


Jane McGonigal, a game designer from the Institute for the Future, spoke about solving world problems by encouraging people to play more games. Jane defined games as “unnecessary obstacles that we volunteer to overcome.

If we take the example of golf, what’s the fascination behind trying to hit the ball with a stick and make it fall into the hole, instead of just picking it up by hand and placing it there? But even if the final purpose is to make that ball fall into the hole, nobody would ever be interested in having no obstacle to overcome, and no thrill to experience.

Image by Levy Fulop on Flickr

Image by Levy Fulop on Flickr

The truth is, people like the excitementenergy and thrill of playing a game. In similar terms, nobody wants a dull and unmemorable experience of learning about your product, buying it in an unexciting environment, and experiencing its dull features.

Engage your customers in a thrilling game, and enhance the funky brand experience!


Diane Nijs, a professor of imagineering1 , gave an example of the Dutch bakery Taarten Van Abel.

The bakery owner built a funky brand by redefining his product from simply a cake, to the expression of festive spirit. As Diane pointed out, people rarely buy cakes to eat them. They buy them as symbols of celebrationfeast, and enjoyment. Taarten Van Abel has grasped this and began to create cakes that are works of art. The brand of Taarten Van Abel has become so well-received by people that the company has decided to launch a TV channel for kids, in which its symbolic cakes have given ground to stories and fairy tales.


Memetics is a theory of mental content based on an analogy with Darwinian evolution, which was originated by Richard Dawkins in the 1976 book The Selfish Gene.   Meme is a unit of human cultural transmission analogous to the gene, and psychologist Susan Blackmore talked about ways of how this sort of replication happens in culture.

Memetics would be worth checking especially for those who are fans of viral marketing. Why do some ideas fly and replicate themselves, and others just sit on the shelf unnoticed? Maybe memetics is a field that you should look into in order to understand why some brands just fly and become funky, and others never get noticed.


According to Baroness Susan Greenfield, a UK neuroscientist, the essence of creativity is daring to be who you are, your individuality.

eccentric dude

Some of you might know that it’s not always easy to stand out from the crowd and be different. Sometimes, the simplest thing to do is to conform and have an easy life. That’s why there are so many dull and unexciting brands out there!

But sticking to who you really are, daring to be, can also come across as magnetically charismatic if you manage to find creative ways of getting your value across. Your Funky Brand might not be liked by everyone, but those who’ll notice you, might fall in love, and isn’t it a huge reward?


Christie Hefner, Playboy’s former CEO, talked about structured creativity. Creativity is often associated with wild out-of-the box thinking, and structure is probably the last word that comes to mind in this respect. And yet a rigorous approach to the creative process is always beneficial to building a successful brand.

This is a very valid point in relation to Funky Brands.

When you build a Funky Brand, combine teams of creative people with experts in brand strategy. This can be especially powerful when you want to build a strong brand through online channels. A lot of brands nowadays want to splash out all the creativity they have, and expose it through social media, without having a rigorous brand strategy in place. Don’t fall into the trap of unstructured creativity, be funky and be smart!

Image by wilgengebroed on Flickr

Image by wilgengebroed on Flickr

Use viral video to make your brand funky

Mashable published a list of most innovative viral videos of 2009 at the beginning of December. Even if you don't plan to launch any video campaigns for your funky brand any time soon, you can just watch these videos for fun.

I'd like to draw your attention to one of them, called SIGNS, produced for Schweppes. I've already shared it on the wall of my Facebook fan page.

If you ask me, this video has been produced AGAINST all the normal viral video principles you might have heard of.

Apart from the cool concept, and a potential of "virality", these videos should be S-H-O-R-T. Two minutes max. That's what your video agency would probably tell you.

If you are an up-and-coming funky brand, you should definitely follow this advice. Nobody's attention span on YouTube is very long. You can take a look at most viewed videos to see that pretty much all of them are very short.

But SIGNS is longer than.....12 minutes.

And it works. You have to see the amount of views on YouTube -- more than 3.4 million. Probably after this blog post, the number will be even higher.  And hey, I am not even paid by Schweppes!

Here are some bullet points about this video:

  • Only a BIG brand can afford to pull this through. Twelve minutes?!  Are you kidding me? First of all, you have to have A LOT of cash to spare on this kind of thing.
  • Second of all, you have to have huge brand awareness in place to afford only a subtle mention of your brand name in such a long video (if you watch SIGNS, you'll see the blurry image of  a Schweppes bottle appearing only in one episode, and there aren't even any close-ups).
  • It is clear to me that with this video, Schweppes is targeting mainly its female consumers. If you contest this, post a comment!

What are the take-aways for your funky-to-be brand?

  • If your goal is to build brand awareness, it's not such a good idea to experiment with lengthy videos, unless you're absolutely sure you want a short movie like SIGNS, and have the budget for it.
  • A short and snappy video will work best for you.
  • Make sure you are certain about your target audience. Include as many details about your customers in the pitch to your video producers. Don't just give age, gender and geographical targeting kind of stuff. Think of all the deep emotional connections that your customers have or are most likely to have to your product -- this kind of angle will certainly help you to have a brilliant concept in place.

Finally, keep this in mind: you will never know in advance whether your video will become viral or not. It's a risk you're taking, all you can do is bring your passion into the process, and hope that your video viewers will share it!

If you want to learn more about video production process and place it in the context of your overall brand strategy, ask olga (at) schmoozyfox (dot) com.