Brand strategies start to form after meeting with the client and learning about the company’s philosophies and goals. From there, ideas spark until one ignites the imagination of the person tasked with creating the brand concept. At this point, the strategy is little more than theoretical concept waiting to be refined. For Cooks Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, the next stage in the development of their brand was to create radio content. Once completed, the continuation of the brand development was handed over to me.
The strategy for this brand came from the Creative Director as, “So here’s the concept: a Superhero character that saves the day or saves whatever situation the customer finds themselves in. Yeah, it’s a superhero concept; you know, with capes and…well, superhero stuff! Here, read the first radio script. Cool, eh?”
Radio Commercial Sample
SFX: Mild-mannered Music
Vx1: When disaster strikes, The Superheroes at Cook’s Plumbing and Heating spring into action.
SFX: Dramatic Superhero Music
Vx1: I got here as quickly as I could. Are you okay ma’am?
SFX: Bubble bath, water dripping, etc.
Vx2: Yes. I just love my new water softener from Cook’s.
Vx1: But I thought I heard… screaming.
Vx2: I know. (sexy) I really love my water softener from Cook’s.
Vx1: Looks like our job is done here!
SFX: Super hero transformation sounds.
Vx3: Hi. This is Luke from Cook’s Plumbing and Heating. When you need it done right, just call Cook’s.
The radio script was cool indeed. I could imagine the Superhero’s voice as I read his lines. The essence of the character was there, but I didn’t know what he looked like. Of course, that would be my job to work out. I immediately began sketching heroic costumes and related gadgets for the Hero…but was then thrown a curve: unfortunately, the budget would not allow for a photo shoot with a custom designed suit and actual model. Okay, I thought, that would have been super…but it won’t be a problem. So where to start then? From where I always do: from scratch.
This was the first image developed and presented to the client. A lot of effort went into creating the image, and I was pleased when it was approved. The infant brand was off to a good start. In fact, the image was so widely liked that it became used for virtually everything in the early days of the brand. I soon realized that if this was to mature from a complementary campaign image to a full fledged and recognizable keystone of the brand, the Superhero needed to do more.
Okay, so far so good. Having two poses to play around with helped to keep the imagery interesting as new billboards, signs and other print materials were created. But this too ran its course. To get the brand imagery to really fly (pardon the pun), I would need to develop new images to see what abilities this superhero had.
Now we’re talking. After some time, a repertoire of creative images were developed that utilized the Superhero in new ways. No matter what, the Superhero was ready to handle any and all concepts tossed at him:
Quick, we need an air conditioner billboard!
No problem, the Superhero will use his super-freeze.
Winter is coming! We need furnace and fireplace google ads!
No problem, the Superhero can simply flame-on!
Help me, Cooks Superhero! My toilet needs replacing.
No problem, the Superhero…well, he doesn’t have a toilet-power but he can install a new one for you…super fast.
Now, the Cooks Superhero imagery is as synonymous to the brand as the voice characterization work and styling of the radio campaigns are. When people listen to the radio commercials they can put a face to the voice. Equally so, when people view the image for the first time they’ll finally be able to put a voice to the face. Having an image to go with the vocals isn’t just a convenience to Cooks’ potential customers, it’s a solidification of the brand within their minds. That’s a level of brand recognition that can not be achieved through radio or graphics alone.
From a seemingly simple concept, the brand has flourished into a powerful marketing instrument. The Cooks Superhero brand has a life of its own now.