How can you reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going?

It may seem pretty logical. But generations of creatives have been left to ponder this exact question over the years, faced with incomplete or confusing information about the challenge they’ve been tasked to solve.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to be working with highly experienced creatives, the result of this confusion is typically a lot of wasted time, wasted energy and, ultimately, wasted marketing dollars.

The key to avoiding these all-too-common situations is to treat your creative briefs like a road map, ensuring they’re always crystal clear, complete and easy for others to navigate. True, it will probably take you a little extra time upfront to do this. But the pay-off down the track will make it well worthwhile.

Here are three things we always try to deliver with our own creative briefings here at The Marketing Syndicate.

  1. Inspire, excite, motivate!

A motivated creative is a far more likely to be an effective creative. It’s your job to fire them up! From the language you use and the props you bring (did someone say snacks?), to your choice of location for the briefing itself, the more you can do to peak their interest and inspire them via the briefing process, the better their ideas are likely to be. Remember, they’re probably working on other briefs at the same time too, so you need to make sure yours gets plenty of love!

  1. Insight delight

Whether you tap into learnings from past campaigns, market research, customer focus groups or even the wider strategic direction of your brand, the best creative briefs are almost always rich in specific consumer insights. In fact, these are the exact things your creative team will most likely seek to leverage in their ideas. Avoid generic claims and sweeping generalisations at all costs, especially when it comes to writing your single-minded proposition (SINGLE, being the key word here.) Specific ownable insights are what it’s all about.

  1. Less is more

One of the most common creative briefing pitfalls is the temptation to overwrite them. It’s easy to think the more information you include the better. After all, you don’t want to miss out something important, right? Trouble is, when you include every conceivable detail the result is almost the same: confusion. There’s no surer way to stifle even the best creative teams than to overwhelm them with an avalanche of data. Think of yourself as an information filter. Cut through the clutter and clearly identify those key things and messages that are MOST important for your campaign to be successful, remembering it’s a very fine balance between including too much and not enough.

Ready to talk about your next creative brief?  

Contact The Marketing Syndicate today.



This week I discovered the new RSPCA NSW campaign for cats. It is called “Cat Ballads, Music to Improve the Life of Cats” and I found it funny and engaging. Not only is there an album and videos of singing cats highlighting responsible cat care, there is also a track and video created with scientists designed to calm cats and kittens in shelter environments, who may be generally stressed or left at home during the day. Goodbye Grumpy Cats!

This started me thinking about using humour in advertising.

Many memorable ad campaigns tend to be funny. Audiences like to be entertained, but not pitched to and people will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced.

The key to funny advertising is assuring the humor is appropriate to both product and customer. The balance between funny and obnoxious can be delicate; and a marketer must be certain the positive effects outweigh the negative before launching a campaign. The best products to sell using humor tend to be those that consumers have to think the least about. Products that are relatively inexpensive, and often consumable, can be represented without providing a lot of facts, and that’s where there’s room for humor.

It is also worthwhile considering that different things are funny to different people. A commercial that leaves one person in stitches may not be as hilarious to someone else. The target market must always be considered. It is interesting to note that humor in advertising tends to improve brand recognition, but does not improve product recall, message credibility, or buying intentions. Variety is key, once a commercial starts to wear thin there’s no saving it without some variation on the concept.

Mark Levit of Partners & Levit Advertising writes “Humorous campaigns are often expensive because they have to be constantly changed. Advertisers must remember that while making the customer laugh, they have to keep things interesting, because old jokes die along with their products.” I wonder, as the world speeds up and digital advertising evolves, will this continue to be an issue?

If you want to check out the Cat Ballads Album, click here

You can also donate while you are there.


Stock photography has come a long way in recent years, the quality, affordability and choice has improved dramatically. If a client is working to tight budget, stock shots can be the perfect solution.

In turn, most graphic designers will be required to delve deeply into a stock library to find the perfect shot at some stage. Some look at this task with trepidation, imagining hours of fruitless searching. Me, I love it. It doesn’t matter what search criteria you type in, without fail a random, bizarre, unrelated image will pop up to break the boredom. Often I will flick to the final page of the search where the least popular images are, this is where the “nuggets” are often found.

It seems, I’m not alone, there’s is a great article by Patrick Burgoyne highlighting the research of Andy Kelly who has also discovered the less visited corners of stock library archives.

Check it out here

Why don’t you try it yourself, my last search turned up “Strange person in black cloak sitting on a toilet and thinking in the middle of the desert”. I was looking for sadness concepts. Funny thing is, I didn’t find it sad at all!

Jo, Senior Designer


What’s New in Digital Marketing in 2017

In 2015 TMS approached UnLtd to see if they were able to match us with a charity who needed  pro bono help. Unltd share our passion for helping troubled teens and introduced us to KYDS who were looking for help with their brand and marketing assets.

KYDS is a registered charity helping young people understand and manage difficult issues in their lives. They achieve these goals through easily accessed, personalised counselling and mental health support services, family counselling, and early intervention well-being workshops and information events. It was a perfect fit for us.

Our first project required us to update the KYDS logo and create look and feel relevant to teens today while keeping the donors and board members happy. KYDS do not receive any funding and are 100% reliant on donations and sponsorship so it was important to ensure the new look satisfied everyone involved.

STAGE 1: We began by presenting 8 logo designs with supporting web and advertorial examples to give an overview of each concept. We used the existing logo as a base and created designs that were evolutions and others that were totally new.

STAGE 2:  After initial feedback, it was evident that we were going to refine the existing logo and retain the colours and hand drawn letterforms. We began by substituting the font for other hand drawn typefaces, replacing the person with a letter and experimenting with the placement of that letter.

STAGE 3: Following more feedback we were able to refine the logo further by tweaking the letterforms to give the logo more energy, we simplified the colour palette choosing vibrant hues to compliment the refreshed design.

STAGE 4: Once the logo was approved we developed a logo family which included a male and female specific version and began work on stationery and supporting collateral.

Since completing the logo and supporting assets, we have been involved with 2 annual fund raising events and have produced a bequest brochure. TMS have been delighted in the transition we’ve been able to bring to KYDS. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Felicity and look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial relationship.

To find out more about KYDS or to make a donation, click here.


What’s New in Digital Marketing in 2017

2017 brings with it a wealth of new possibilities for digital marketing professionals throughout the world. Between developments in mobile technology, virtual reality, and graphics development, it is becoming rapidly clear that a fresh take is needed to help marketing teams best reach their target audiences. We have identified some exciting changes that both present new opportunities and challenges for marketing departments and agencies worldwide.

The Continued Rise of Content Marketing

As web searching tools grow in complexity and capability, the focus for content developers and marketers has shifted from a pure keyword based optimisation strategy to a focus on fresh and high quality content. The emphasis is now on the creator to make certain that the information contained not only is indexed readily, but is cross-linked with similarly informative pieces on other high-ranking sites.

When tied in with social networking, it is possible to leverage multiple indexing and ranking services to rapidly reach a large audience in a targeted demographic or geographic zone. For instance, an article shared throughout Facebook, as long as its content is truly informative and accurate, will rank higher in users’ feeds than general posts.

Ad Blocking Technology Will Become a Default Feature

Google Chrome is rumored to be developing a standardised ad blocker for its web browser that will automatically banish the most blatant and irritating advertisements. There are many reasons for this, ranging from improved security to user preferences and general performance, though the main reason may very well involve advertising revenue.

One of the greatest challenges digital marketers have faced over the last three years is the rise of third-party ad blocking tools that have made it an exceptional challenge to monetize web content provided on the open net. Even with “white lists” enabling nonintrusive advertising the potential for revenue generation has dropped significantly. Google is trying to counteract this by implementing a tool that only removes the worst offenders while providing a framework for modern accepted advertisements Social Media Marketing

Web development is a continuous process that destroys as often as it creates. In the span of less than 20 years we’ve seen the rise and falls of titans like MySpace and GeoCities, along with the awe-inspiring rise of current time usage champions Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Since the users are the product for these services, marketing developers have to follow the platform’s rules in order to even have a chance at success. (mention content is owned by the platforms and not the businesses/brands?)

The middle result, the first being blatant ads that turned off viewers, was the creation of multiple advertising platforms with their own development guidelines and tools. This led to the rise of platform specific platform advertising specialists and a cottage industry in helping end users avoid those ads.

Now, in 2017, a new paradigm is beginning to emerge. The largest platforms are implementing a combination of content-and-popularity aware automated ranking with promotions to enable businesses to leverage social marketing alongside now-traditional PPC advertisements. With the emphasis being placed on connectivity and quality content, it is rapidly growing easier to develop engaging content that leverages the strengths of every platform (i.e. short shareable missives for Twitter, longer articles for Facebook and LinkedIn, and infographics for Instagram.)

What Are Your Thoughts?

The shifting marketing industry has lead to many theories about where it is headed in the future. Do you believe that the shift to open standards, greater connectivity, and a focus on content will be the true guiding posts for marketers in 2017 and beyond?



Key Points To Help You Get Better Returns In Today’s Cyclical Shopper Economy


As you may know, shopper marketing is currently in a state of turbulence, massive disruption and rapid-fire change.

For the first time in history, the path to purchase is no longer linear.

Yes, shoppers still experience the same stages of awareness, consideration, conversion and evaluation. However, they now jump back and forth between these stages in a looping fashion.

For example…

  • In-store promotions might drive shoppers to social media, where they interact with your brand before making the final buying decision back in the aisle.
  • Or an innovative organisation might give shoppers the opportunity to purchase a personalised version of a product online. This helps build brand trust and loyalty, which drives in-store sales.

Even though the ‘moment of truth’ is when a consumer chooses one brand over another, the way shoppers get there has changed dramatically.

The question is: In this new economy, what does your brand need to consider before launching a shopper marketing campaign?

Here are some key points I believe are important…

1 – In a cluttered world, simple and elegant stands out

Supermarkets today are filled with thousands of different products.

The shelves are practically groaning with promotions and offers vying for attention. For shoppers this vast choice is often mind boggling. So much so that many default to buying the cheapest.

After working on campaigns for many of Australia’s leading consumer brands, I have found that the key to overcoming the clutter is clarity.

Your message should communicate in one quick glance what value your offer the shopper- whether it’s a trip to New York or free sports gear.

If it doesn’t, it’s too complicated.

2 – Be consistent

Consistent and careful branding is now more important than ever before.

Shoppers today are hyper-connected. They see your brand across multiple channels – and any missteps are quickly picked up by eagle-eyed social media users.

One small slip can lead to a lot of bad publicity.

That’s why every campaign needs to be neat, simple and by the book, so no brand value is lost by wayward promotions.

The most effective way to achieve this is check your final campaign against core brand values like USP and audience beliefs.

3 – Know your audience

Just like the general population, shoppers are not all the same.

Demographic shifts present opportunities for tailored messages whether that be based on ethnicity, age, families or singles.

For example, millennials are well-known for taking pictures of what they eat and posting them on social media. They associate food with creativity… and to connect with them, you need to deliver content that appeals to this creativity.

The same is true for other demographics.

With so many marketing messages it’s imperative that shoppers feel that your brand ‘speaks to them’.

Of course, this is only the beginning. They are many other things you need to consider before launching a shopper marketing campaign.
If you interested in learning more, why not contact The Marketing Syndicate today for a no-obligation, complimentary consult.

We’re a boutique Sydney promotional marketing and creative agency trusted by some of Australia’s biggest brands. We’re 100% passionate about what we do, and that passion shows through in the quality of our work. Give Ingrid Ambrosius a call if you'd like to know more about The Marketing Syndicate and our services.