In today’s digital age, immediacy dominates our lives. From five-second dating app decisions to instant data-driven validation in business, we’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification. This ‘always-on’ culture has permeated our professional lives, particularly in marketing, where the rush for quick, quantifiable returns often overshadows the
long-term art of brand building.

Let’s rediscover the art of patience in an impatient world.

This e-book invites you to slow down and re-explore the vital role of patience in brand building. Despite the societal shift towards instant gratification, it’s important to remember that some things, like creating enduring brands, cannot be rushed. Through this exploration, we hope to highlight the significance of patience, commitment, and the power of enduring narratives in shaping brands that last.

At NERVE, we have always championed the power of collective thinking and the unparalleled value it brings to our clients and our team. Today, we are thrilled to share that our CEO, Michael Ward, has joined the esteemed Big Minds Collective for the third year running. This inclusion is not just a nod to Michael’s thought leadership but also heralds a plethora of opportunities for everyone associated with NERVE and the wider MATTER group.

Understanding the Big Minds Collective

Curated by LinkedIn, the Big Minds Collective is an assembly of strategists and senior marketing leaders. They convene for insightful virtual roundtables with luminaries spanning topics from geo-politics to the circular economy. As members, they enjoy exclusive access to pioneering research, insights, and data from LinkedIn. Moreover, we have the unique privilege to co-author thought leadership content, amplifying the essence of innovative thinking to the marketing realm.

The NERVE Advantage

Being a part of the Big Minds Collective is more than title. It highlights the immersion into a community of the industry’s specialists. It is about gleaning insights from experts who consistently redefine boundaries. For NERVE, where we make B2B brands makes sense, we will be able to use our findings to our (and your) advantage:

  1. Direct Access to Thought Leadership: we are poised to tap into ground-breaking ideas and strategies, refining our approach and the bespoke solutions we offer.
  2. Collaborative Horizons: The ethos of the Big Minds Collective is rooted in collaboration. This paves the way for NERVE to synergise with industry frontrunners, crafting solutions that are not just avant-garde but also comprehensive.
  3. Client-Centric Benefits: You are at the heart of this association. Armed with insights from the collective, we are geared to deliver solutions that are not just state-of-the-art but also deeply insightful.

Looking Forward

At NERVE, we are invigorated by the prospects this affiliation unfurls for us and our clientele. We have always believed in the might of collective ideation, and with this newfound alliance, we are set to elevate our offerings, reinforcing our stature as your premier B2B Marketing agency.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, businesses are increasingly turning to data-driven marketing campaigns to generate quick results. While these efforts have their merits, brand advertising, particularly for B2B brands, has become undervalued. Despite the challenges of measuring the impact of brand advertising, it is critical for building awareness, trust, and long-term loyalty.

This blog post will explore the value of brand advertising for B2B brands and discuss memorable campaigns that have made a lasting impact.

The Immeasurable Value of Brand Advertising

Although brand advertising can be challenging to measure, it plays an indispensable role in B2B marketing. The following are some of the key benefits:

  1. Building Awareness: A strong brand presence can help your business stand out in a crowded market, making it easier for potential clients to remember your company when they need your products or services.
  2. Establishing Trust: A well-executed brand campaign can communicate your company’s values and expertise, fostering trust with potential clients and partners.
  3. Long-term Loyalty: By consistently delivering on your brand promise, you can cultivate lasting relationships with customers, which often leads to repeat business and referrals.
“Brand fame is fundamentally important, and marketing today seems to have forgotten that.”
Sir John Hegarty – BBC’s CEO Secrets

Memorable B2B Brand Advertising Campaigns

To illustrate the power of brand advertising for B2B brands, let’s look at some real-life examples of memorable campaigns:

  1. Rolls-Royce’s “Trusted to Deliver Excellence”: Rolls-Royce, a UK-based engineering company, launched the “Trusted to Deliver Excellence” campaign to showcase its commitment to quality and innovation. The campaign used compelling visuals and storytelling to highlight the company’s expertise in aerospace, marine, and power systems. By focusing on the engineering solutions provided by Rolls-Royce, the campaign successfully reinforced the company’s brand as a trusted partner in critical industries.
  2. IBM’s “Smarter Planet”: IBM’s “Smarter Planet” campaign, which began in 2008, aimed to demonstrate the company’s commitment to using technology to address pressing global issues. With a focus on the environment, energy, and health care, the campaign successfully reinforced IBM’s brand as a forward-thinking and socially responsible enterprise.
  3. Slack’s “Amazing Teams” Campaign: In 2016, Slack, the popular team collaboration tool, launched the “Amazing Teams” campaign, which featured real-life success stories of businesses using Slack to improve their team’s productivity and collaboration. The campaign not only highlighted the benefits of Slack’s platform but also showcased the company’s understanding of modern workplace dynamics.

Embracing the Unmeasurable in a Digital Era

The rise of digital advertising and the demand for measurable results have led many B2B marketers to focus on short-term tactics. However, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the long-term value that brand advertising brings. While the impact of brand campaigns can be difficult to quantify, they play a vital role in shaping your company’s reputation, building trust, and fostering long-term customer relationships.

In conclusion, brand advertising is an essential component of a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy. By investing in memorable campaigns and staying true to your brand promise, you can create lasting connections with clients and partners that go beyond measurable metrics. In an era of digital advertising and data-driven decision-making, embracing the immeasurable value of brand advertising is vital for long-term success.

In the ever-evolving landscape of web application development, it’s easy to become entranced by the allure of aesthetics — the “colours & curls” as we affectionately refer to them. While these elements undoubtedly play a role in the overall user experience, their true value can only be unlocked when they complement, rather than overshadow, the central players of our story: function & form.
Download the eBook

The importance of function & form, the mechanisms that drive performance, cannot be overstated.

Their synergy forms the bedrock of successful web applications — a harmony that transcends the superficial appeal of design aesthetics. Their relationship is akin to the intricate dance between a car’s engine (function) and bodywork (form); without the engine’s power and the bodywork’s streamlined design, even the most visually appealing car wouldn’t get far.

In this book, we aim to shed light on why function & form should always be the primary focus in the design of web applications. We navigate the labyrinth of layout analysis, audience understanding, user interaction, and data-driven decision making — all key players in the grand scheme of effective web application design. It is our hope that by the end, you’ll understand the mantra ‘measure twice, cut once’ is not just about precision, but about creating a harmonious blend of function & form that drives performance and delivers an exceptional user experience.

In the age of instant gratification, patience feels like an art form slowly being lost to antiquity. The digital revolution, in all its glory, has given birth to a world with diminished attention spans and an insatiable thirst for the immediate. Consider dating apps, where decisions that could potentially shape a lifetime are made within a mere five-second window. Swipe left, swipe right, and life as we know it changes.

This trend of impatience is not exclusive to our personal lives.

It permeates our professional sphere too, particularly in marketing. In an era where data is at our fingertips, we’ve grown accustomed to instant validation. We want metrics. We want ROI. If we can’t see it, it’s hard to believe in it. And in this haste for quantifiable returns, we risk losing sight of the art of brand building.

Particularly within the B2B space, the patience required to build a strong, enduring brand is often overlooked. Organisations tend to outlive their employees, but the pressure for immediate returns and measurable results can lead to a short-term mindset. The corporate landscape is rife with brands led more by sales than marketing, brands that shun investment in areas that they can’t directly measure. This ‘seeing is believing’ approach has created a tunnel vision that undermines the long-term, patient work required to build a brand. It perpetuates a ‘quick fix’ mentality and can trigger a race to the bottom.


Yet, there’s a certain beauty, a certain magic, to brand advertising that can’t be captured in immediate metrics or instant results. It’s about creating connections on a deeper level, tapping into the emotional needs of our audience rather than just the rational. It’s about weaving stories that resonate, crafting narratives that endure, and building relationships that last.

Brand building is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

It’s about laying a foundation, brick by brick, and nurturing it over time. It’s about understanding that not all that matters can be measured, and not all that can be measured, matters. It’s about appreciating the art of patience in an impatient world.

In our rush to embrace the new, let’s not forget the old. Let’s not forget that brand building requires time, patience, and commitment. In an ‘always on’ world, it’s essential to step back and appreciate the value of patience. To recognise that some things, like brand building, cannot be rushed. To understand that in our pursuit of the immediate, we risk losing sight of the lasting.

So, let’s slow down.

Let’s reconnect with the art of patience. Let’s rediscover the beauty of brand building, the power of emotional connections, and the magic of enduring narratives. Let’s remember that in a world obsessed with the immediate, there’s still room for the enduring.

When was the last time you ran into a problem that really stumped you? One that really felt beyond your imaginative reach? If you work in marketing, I’m willing to bet it was pretty recent. You might even be in the middle of it now.

When people reach limits like this, it’s fascinating to watch how they handle it.

Some people, they crumble and give up; others work ‘til three in the morning trying to punish themselves into having an answer. But the smartest, most effective people you’ll see have a fascinating way of approaching that point. And it has everything to do with what is known as ‘meta-cognition’.

Broadly speaking, meta-cognition is thinking about thinking. It can involve learning about the actual mechanisms of thought – how the brain works – but it also involves understanding how to manage, regulate and control thought. That can mean becoming aware of your own biases, how you react to certain stimuli, or how you personally absorb information most effectively. But it can also mean learning how to approach problems better.

I believe one of the single most important commodities we all share is thought. Yet we typically spend very little of our working lives thinking.

Agencies exist in large part to provide a different perspective, a different way of approaching problems which businesses can’t access for themselves. If they didn’t, they would simply be outsourced labour, doing the nitty-gritty because the client didn’t have time. 

So how can metacognition help us think better?

Well, there are several ways. But take that problem that you’re struggling with. It’s likely that the reason you’ve hit this wall in your thought is because you’ve exhausted a specific mental module or way of approaching the problem. And the difficult thing about that is specific, siloed ways of thinking have blinkers built into them, so that when you are taking a specific approach it appears to you that it’s the only approach it would possible to take.

It feels like you’ve got far enough with this approach that it must be correct – you’re just not there yet. But how much of that is just not wanting to feel you’ve wasted time? Or not having a different approach to hand? As Daniel Kahneman says, nothing is as important as you think it is when you’re thinking about it. So the more you think in a certain way, the more deluded to that way of thinking’s efficacy you become.

That’s why we talk about ‘muddy’ thinking – you get stuck in it, and you cease to discern between your thinking and the problem.

By thinking not about the problem, but instead about your thinking, you very quickly start to see all the limitations of thought you are putting on yourself. And you see how you could change it. 

Now, this is obviously powerful for marketers and thinkers in general. But we’re calling it a metacognitive revolution for a reason.

If we look at the world we live in – its overload of content, its wildly proliferating technology, its tribalism and cultural discontentment – its hard not to feel something needs to change. And while there are many things which could be hugely beneficial – media literacy, ethical technology, Corporate Social Responsibility – I believe that no single thing could have as wide-ranging or deep an impact as the widespread adoption of metacognitive awareness and techniques.

We need to start hiring more diverse groups of people – perhaps a step towards this would be hiring in groups rather than filling individual roles – not to signal virtue but because diversity genuinely breeds a greater breadth, depth and quality of thought. 

We need to start scrutinising technology and data in ways which are reflexive and take into account our own biases and assumptions and entrenched ways of thinking. 

And we need to start approaching our problems – every problem – with a keen and clear understanding of exactly what it is we’re doing when we think about it.

Agencies do creativity. That’s always been what they do.

Regardless of the business or brief, the thing that really separates agencies and makes them an invaluable resource for brands is their ability to think in different ways and produce things they couldn’t do for themselves.

And that might be why many agencies are hesitant when it comes to AI.

The idea – at least as I hear it – is that machines and data threaten that creative DNA of agencies and seek to replace that spark that makes agencies a magical commodity.

The problem with this theory is it doesn’t correlate with the reality of what AI and ML are. Or what they do.

“AI and ML pose an incredible promise to the creatives of the world.”

AI and ML don’t simply turn things into dry, numerical problems; they augment the thinking and possibilities of human creativity.

In fact, with no creative spark these technologies would be useless, because they need behind them all a level of thought which only humans can offer. 

And there’s more.

AI and ML pose an incredible promise to the creatives of the world.

They can (and should) be used to generate far more variations and ideas for how to attack a problem, how to communicate a concept and how to add value to a situation than humans feasibly could. 

This means smart, creative marketers can use the power of technology to augment their ability to produce stunning work

We’re going to move more and more towards taste, discernment and strategic insight being the key creative roles modern marketers have.

And while this isn’t to say there won’t be ample room for more traditional creatives to shine, being able to solve performance problems at scale and pace will require learning a whole new set of skills.

Skills more to do with feeding information and formulating problems properly than simply grinding out brainstorming sessions and agonising over strap lines.

I know some people won’t like this notion at all…

But if what we’re interested in is genuinely helping clients perform – and not the circus of self-gratifying creative glory – the route I’m suggesting is the one most agencies will eventually have to go down.

The & Partnership produced an ad for Lexus last year which was ‘written’ by algorithms, and we’re likely to see much more of that kind of approach in the coming years.

There’s something anxiety inducing about it – I get it. 

Machines can now ape full symphonies on their own.

And while we might argue over how much creative production could plausibly be taken over by machines, the fact it can is sometimes still unsettling to even the most avid endorsers of AI it’s worth noting.

I think a lot of advertising and marketing creatives likely see what they do as a form of art. And it does have things in common with art. 

But brand building for commercial purposes isn’t really art. 

And while it might be that art will never be taken over by machines – because what people want from art is human connection and the feeling that another person poured themselves into creating something – do people really care who made the ad they see while they’re waiting for the cat video to load, or where the words on the aftershave commercial came from?

Creating a new job title is often a shrewd business move. With a sprinkle of ‘Executive’ and a smattering of ‘Global’, you can get a lot done. Other times, new job titles are a smart way of avoiding comparisons with your predecessors, or developing your ‘personal brand’. The real value of a new job title though, is to recognise and address a problem within your business that requires specific, untapped skills. Whilst the title Data Strategist isn’t entirely new, of all the roles within businesses, it’s the one we come across least frequently. If you haven’t got one in your business, now is the time to consider it as a new role.

Directionless Data

To some, the term ‘data strategist’ probably sounds redundant – isn’t data itself the strategy? In so many organisations, data is expected to steer the ship, as the term ‘data driven’ implies. But this overlooks the huge strategic obstacles data itself presents.

For one thing, there is a serious question about progress to be addressed. Many marketers are becoming reliant on data and investing greater resources into harvesting, analysing and actioning it. Yet they often do so without a proper plan, and no real insight into whether the quality of their data is actually improving. This is a problem, because data takes time to accrue value; in any other area of marketing – say, content creation – we’d have specialised strategists looking at how to generate, implement and measure this progression.

Worse still, without clear direction, marketers tend to collect more data than they need, sacrificing quality for quantity. And without clear direction in the technical department, there is often little real understanding of the challenges this data is actually supposed to be illuminating.

Ultimately, I think these problems stem from a disconnect between the technical folks and the marketing experts. But simply translating between the two camps is never enough; you’re still left with a lack of big picture thinking.

As I’ve quoted before, this tends to result in people using data to find supporting evidence for their ad-hoc notions as beautifully expressed by one of the greats.

“Most people use statistics like a drunk man uses a lamppost; more for support than illumination”
Andrew Lang, 1910

What we need is a role that not only mediates between the data guys and marketing minds, but actually plugs these gaps and takes responsibility for the big picture questions neither party, largely, is comfortable in owning

Like any role, this will have to evolve over time. But I have three preliminary thoughts that could help start sketching what the role will involve:

1. Data needs time to grow

We often think of data as a fixed property, but in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

A data strategist should be tasked with planning how a business’s use of data will evolve over time, both in terms of its decision making capacity and how it will adapt to keep pace with new technologies and innovations.

2. You are what you measure

As I’ve written before, marketers need to be very mindful of what they measure, because all sorts of weaknesses, biases and oversights can slip in through the cracks of measurement.

A data strategist’s role should involve actively monitoring how measurement impacts efficacy and creating clear, long-term plans for the improvement of measurement and tracking practises. This might even involve developing new metrics, and planning how they will be introduced over time.

3. Align data with business goals

Data can only improve performance if it’s properly aligned with the overarching goals of a business, and that means it’s vital that we determine the most important questions data needs to address.

A data strategist’s most pressing concern should be ensuring the business’s data generation, integration and implementation is all ultimately in service of its performance objectives. This means understanding the challenges the business faces and translating them into clear, actionable guidance for the data team.

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily need to be a separate role: there are plenty of great Marketing Directors out there that could develop a solid data strategy for themselves – if they were so inclined.

Strategy is always business specific, and this will be no different: every marketing department is at a different phase in their integration of data and will therefore need to develop its own specific approach to data strategy.

But that really is part of the fun, and I for one can’t wait to see what improving the strategic element of data will do to the overall progress we make.

There aren’t too many comparisons to be drawn between marketing and astrophysics.

One comparison though is that both rely heavily on being able to accurately measure the variables they’re working with. And in that sense, I think we need to start thinking more like scientists. 

Great breakthroughs in science have come through new measurements and – crucially – new ideas about what and how we measured them. 

Rather than simply working with the tools they have, they’ve developed ever more ingenious ways to measure and test their theories. The result?

Getting ever more closer to the BIG PICTURE results they want.

So what can we learn from that?

We need to be clear that there are no meaningful measurements without uncertainties; we can’t trick ourselves into thinking we know things for certain – that way complacency lies. 

We need to be constantly sceptical about the things we measure and dare to question the orthodoxies.

We know that what we measure tends to impact behaviour.

People try to ‘game’ the measurement to make themselves look better

We need to find ways to avoid negative externalities with regards to our measurement choices. Focusing on messaging strategies to enhance click through rates is done the world over every day, and of course it’s measured. But is it robust?

These isolated views could be actively harming the brand in other ways and you might never know without that BIG PICTURE view.

What and how we measure in marketing is often not considered a decision – we simply measure what is always measured in the ways it’s always done.

But at some point, somebody decided to start measuring those things. And more often than we might think, they chose to measure those things for reasons of practicality rather than considered, strategic insight.

Gaming the System

We tend to measure the things we can. And that makes sense.

The problem arises when a thing called the measurability bias kicks in. 

The measurability bias basically tells us that we overestimate the prevalence and relevance of the things which we can most easily measure.

We tend to overestimate how representative of a person their appearance or accent are because we can easily take measure of them.

If data is like food for digital performance, you are what you measure. 

But the bias rings true across a whole host of areas: the most famous dinosaurs are the ones which were easiest to find at the first sites palaeontologists explored.

There are far more insects than vertebrae in nature, but more research has been conducted on vertebrates, largely because they are easier to spot and isolate for investigation.

The future of marketing is one built on clarity and precision

Part of that means thinking really hard about what we measure and how that will affect performance.

Bespoke measurement systems where clients can use the data engineering provided far more accurately and effectively brings clarity and direction that previously didn’t exist.

Because in a digital world, ACCURATE insight is everything. And if data is like food for digital performance, you are what you measure.

In 2020, feeling confused became a full-time job.

From our fast-tracked training as amateur epidemiologists to the sheer volume of politics we’ve had to endure, the entire country has become used to not having a clue what’s going on.

That’s not to say we’re uninformed: media consumption of all kinds has ballooned in the UK this year, including a lot more people reading the news. It’s just that there’s so much information to make sense of, we seem to have lost our ability to determine what really matters.

I’ve invested in some really worthwhile anxieties this year: a global pandemic, looming economic catastrophe and millionaires refusing to give children lunch. But like many of us, I’ve also been drawn into all manner of nonsense arguments that lead, circuitously, to nowhere. And that is why, moving forward, I believe clarity is the most valuable asset any of us can have.

Brighter times ahead

If there’s a silver lining to the news deluge, it’s surely that no sensible person can get away with claiming to have all the answers; gone are the days of the unfazed thought leader, and with them the pressure the rest of us felt to accept their simplistic, over-generalised narratives.

Instead, we’re all suddenly aware how complex the whole thing is, and how much of it is out of our hands.

While this can be a scary realisation, it also provides an opportunity to fundamentally rethink how we consume information. And that, I believe, must start with clarity about what we’re using it for.

Stay with me, the parallel with how people approach data is coming!

We tend to come to news sources in a shapeless way, absorbing whatever we can from whatever source is available. Worse still, we tend to wait for the information to tell us what’s important.

Moreover, it’s not always clear why we’re even absorbing the specifics of any given piece.

Not having a clear goal means we’re ultimately passive – because you can’t be entirely active without a clear aim. And that means we’re spending more time consuming more information about more stuff – but getting a very poor return on our investment.

What we need to do is start asking ourselves what is most important – what we truly need to know about – and ignore the noise.

Doing this is painful. It means giving stuff up. But you need to let go.

It means giving up having opinions about literally everything we see, and it means whittling down our priorities, which can feel like letting go of stuff we’ve grown attached to.

Introspective capitalism – the data angle

As you can probably guess, I think there’s an important analogy to be drawn here with business.

Data is more valuable than ever, but we need to start taking seriously the idea that quantity does not equal quality.

In fact, data is very much like news: it’s absolutely vital, but if you’ve only got a bad source, it’s going to send you down some dangerous roads.

Research suggests that when misinformation becomes widespread, people often revert to not trusting any news sources. And the same thing happens with data: if it doesn’t get the results you’re looking for, some businesses, or individuals within, simply stop believing in its efficacy all together.

But here’s the thing: marketing data, operational data et al, in silos or together, is only as valuable as your vision for how to use it.

The task for businesses today is to determine what they really want from their data, and what they expect it to help them achieve – not just assume it’s valuable and try to get as much of the stuff as possible.

There are big, important questions to be asked, and data can help you answer them. But only if you know which ones you’re trying to answer.

So the messier our information ecosystems get, the more valuable clarity becomes. Not because clarity equates to certainty or truth, but because it focuses our thoughts on the questions that really matter.