Steak and Sizzle

At times, there is public confusion about Capsule’s area of expertise, design.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard a friend, acquaintance or even prospective client say, “You’re an ad agency, right?” then I’d be filling my closet with Jimmy Choo shoes. I cringe a bit when I hear those words and then prepare to explain that we are not an ad agency.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have many friends who work for ad agencies all over the country and I’m not disparaging the discipline. But, it seems this over-arching term, ad agency, is inaccurately used to encompass all disciplines within creative.

I guess I’m not surprised. The world of advertising has been glamorized for decades. Remember Darrin Stephens and Mr. Tate from Bewitched? And thanks to Don Draper and the saga of Mad Men, what we know of the ad world in the 1980s seems tame compared to the antics of the 1960s.

So, what’s my point? Why, oh why, does advertising get all the glory?

When people ask what we create at Capsule, here’s how I explain the difference between advertising and design.

We create engaging design solutions for brands that extend across all mediums and touchpoints. Advertising is simply one of those elements. The work we do is focused on long-term visual language. Advertising takes these design assets and creates short-term, focused and targeted execution. Advertising is all about selling and the execution changes frequently.

You’ve probably heard the metaphorical question, “Are you selling the steak or the sizzle?” While the literal translation is — sell the benefits, not the features — our work in brand design represents the steak. And we know that if the steak is distinctive, the sizzle is easier to sell. The work we do in design helps brands be distinctive in their category. In doing so, any medium used to promote, engage and sell has an easier route to the sizzle.

Yes, advertising traditionally gets all the glory. But without the brand strategy, intellectual property and top shelf design assets, you have no steak to sizzle.

Kitty Hart

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