If you could go back in time to meet Elvis Presley and ask him only one question, what would that question be?
Chances are, it would be thought provoking, provocative and help you to better understand who Elvis was and what made him tick—something undiscovered that uniquely defines who The King was or what he might’ve become.
If we can agree that great strategy is the foundation of every great brand, then the art of asking the right question is at the core of every great strategy. Expected questions lead to expected answers, which in turn lead to expected strategy that manifests in uninspired brands. You can get lost in the fog of mediocrity and ideals built upon assumptions that lead to predetermined conclusions.
Sure, you need to know the who, what, when, where and why. But what I am referring to is getting inside the head of your audience—your Elvis. It’s about discovering the humanly relevant perspective that enables you to uniquely connect your business, product, solution or service to communication that inspires and motivates people to engage with your brand.
I have conducted (in my mind) hundreds of interviews with Elvis, in an attempt to better understand who he was and what made him tick. And in every instance, it was the unexpected question offering profound insight that led me down a path of new and different thinking.
Brands are a culmination of how people perceive you and what you stand for. The right question can transform a brand, which is at the core of understanding people.
Regardless of what you think of Jay Leno, he understands this concept very well. Remember in 1995 when Leno asked Hugh Grant, “What the hell were you thinking?” The question was in regard to Grant’s recent arrest with a prostitute. How about in 2009 when Leno asked Kanye West, “What would your mother think?” Leno posed this question after West jumped on stage and snatched the MTV Video Music Award for best female video out of Taylor Swift’s hands and proclaimed that Beyonce should have won. West was very close to his mother, who died in 2007. Talk about getting into the head of your audience.
I feel strongly that every brand should be built on a strategy based upon interviews that provide an outside perspective—the human element. In every instance, such interviews provide a qualitative data point that anchors your thinking in a perspective that is important, if not imperative.
So, the next time you seek to redefine your brand or what it stands for, armed with only a pen and curiosity, ask yourself, “What would I ask Elvis?”
Luke Bemis is a Senior Planning Strategist at gyro Denver.