Great Advertising – “Pretty is easy. Smart is hard.” – Mitch’s Axiom #343

Great Advertising – “Pretty is easy. Smart is hard.” – Mitch’s Axiom #343

Great Advertising
Posted on: Posted on Posted in: Categories Branding Blog

There’s a line of thought in business that great advertising goes something like this: some work wins awards, and some work sells product.

The wisdom in that sentiment is pretty clear.

Advertising creatives sometimes get lost in the quest for “art” in their work. By that I mean the focus often blurs between what is appealing to the artistic sensibilities of other creatives, and what messages resonate with the desired audience.

After all, isn’t that what clients are paying us to do?

I could go on for days (ask my colleagues) about the self-aggrandizing nature of the advertising business.


I’ve preached endless sermons (again, consult my partners) about the self congratulatory awards banquets creatives flock to regularly, so that they can dislocate their joints patting themselves on the back.

And this is all well, and good.

There are some brilliant creative minds in the industry that fashion arrestingly pretty, shockingly outside-the-box work that demonstrates humbling aptitude with the tools of the trade.

But for me it always comes back to one elementary question…

Did it sell?

How much product did that Addy winner move? How many new customers engaged with that brand? Did it move the year-over-year sales needle? You don’t see many award shows for ads that increase year-over-year sales.

Quote about what makes great advertising from Mitch Gregory of NerdBrand Agency in Louisville, KY.

Let’s face it.

We live in a data-dominated world, and marketers now have access to reams of information about prospect behavior, trends, and segments. I suppose it can seem daunting to have to study and digest this bounty of information.

I guess it’s sometimes easier for many advertising agencies to shoot for visually or aurally bombastic or shocking targets, than to actually dig into the data and craft messages and vehicles that provoke the viewer to act.

Put simply, for many creatives…pretty is easy.

Great advertising is much more an exercise in smart engineering (swerving into a future blog post) than a foray into aesthetic splendor.

Can great advertising be good looking? Of course. But what separates it from the pack is how well the message and aesthetics have been crafted to propel a strong message into the heart of a desired audience.

Smart can be more difficult.

It takes chemistry, teamwork (both within agency teams and with clients), and major effort to craft effective campaigns. It requires a laser focus on the brand’s identity and its audience to build effective, efficient advertising “machines.”

The marvel of our present age is that we have so many tools at our disposal to build really great and effective advertising, be it digital advertising, print advertising, broadcast advertising, or direct response.

It just requires the commitment to stay focused on the end consumer of the advertising. We are charged with crafting message vehicles that make people get out of their chair and act.

And at NerdBrand, that’s why we exist.

From your brand identity, to how you express that personality in your marketing, we consider how your customers engage with your brand. We focus on the whole picture.

We maintain a holistic view of your brand, your product and messaging that translates to traffic to your website or your brick-and-mortar storefront.

And often that is hard.

But when a client sees an increase in month-to-month sales or some other meaningful KPI, it makes it so worth the effort. Whether that adds shiny hardware to our shelves or not.

For us, there’s nothing prettier than the smiles of a happy client and their happy customers.

If you like this post, please leave a comment below or share it! If you want to read more from me, check out my posts on Building Your Brand With Original Content and Why Your Business Needs a Brand Guide.


25 years in the advertising and marketing arena, with in-depth experience in all fazes of advertising and marketing execution. From broadcast, to print, to web, to digital... I’ve been involved in each step of the process from initial concept and strategy, to final execution.