Binary is a way of simplifying things down to their most basic.
This or that.
Black or white.
On or off.
No subtleties, just powerful, simple clarity.
Fast ,easy decision.
Then quickly move on to the next fast, easy decision.
That’s why computers work so fast.
Every decision is 0 or 1, that’s it.
Is it possible for us to use that kind of brutal reductionism for what we do?
Yes of course.
The secret is how you organise the questions.
Don’t ask everything at once.
Simplify it down so that’s it’s always one of two choices.
Then you can move through it really fast.
You’ll sit in a briefing and hear, “The brand obviously needs to grow share via trial, but still benefitting from market growth and capitalising on product benefits while maximising our brand values.”
If that doesn’t mean much to you, imagine how little it means to a consumer.
So we need to reduce everything down into a simple COMMUNICATION brief.
If it’s going to be simple, we need to know 3 things.
WHO should buy it.
WHY should they buy it.
WHAT should they buy it instead of.
If we aren’t clear on those 3 things, we can’t put them in the ad.
If they’re not in the ad, the consumer won’t know.
If the consumer doesn’t know, nothing happens.
So, learning from binary thinking, the first step is to accept that, at every stage, we can only do ONE thing properly.
So we have to reduce each stage to what that one thing is.
Question 1:
Brand Share or Market Growth.
Is your brand the market-leader or not?
Use the cola market as an example.
If you are Coca Cola you have way the biggest share of the cola market.
If you increase the number of people buying cola, you benefit much more than anyone else.
Whether consumers remember your name, or not.
If the market grows, you grow faster than anyone else, automatically.
But if you’re not the market leader (Pepsi say) you don’t want to do that.
You want to take sales from whoever is the market leader.
This gives you 2 very different sorts of communication briefs.
“Buy cola instead of other drinks.” (Market Growth, benefits Coca Cola).
“Buy Pepsi instead of Coke.” (Brand Share, benefits Pepsi).

Question 2:
Triallists or Current Users.
Do you want new people to try your brand? (Essential for a launch.)
Or do you want current users to buy it more often?
Of course it depends on factors like market saturation.
Again, assume you were Coca Cola.
Pretty much everyone has tried Coke, so it’s no good talking to triallists.
If you’re Coke you have to tell current consumers why they should buy more.
So a communication brief could be, “Have a coke with a friend.”
That way you sell two bottles instead of one.
But if you’re Pepsi, and you’re trying to take share from the market leader, obviously you need to tell Coke drinkers why they should try your brand.
So a communication brief could be, “Pepsi tastes better than Coke.”

Question 3:
Product or Brand
You could also refer to this as ‘rational or emotional”.
Is there a definite, logical reason to purchase your product?
Or is there an emotional preference for the brand?
In the case of things you enjoy, it’s usually an emotional preference for a brand: perfume, beer, fashion, confectionary.
No one cares much if those last longer, work better, or cost less.
They buy the imagery not the functionality.
In markets where all products are exactly like all other products, you do brand advertising.
But in other areas, facts can be more important: insurance, medicines, cars, technology.
People don’t buy insurance on imagery, they buy it on cost.
Do you have a provable product benefit that no one else has: costs less, lowers cholesterol, works faster, lasts longer?
You need to have the discussion before you do the ads.
Sometimes Product (facts) can become Brand (image).
Mercedes, Volvo, VW, Sony, Tesco, Sainsbury, Apple.
All these brands did great factual advertising which built their brands.

Please remember, the Binary Brief is just a language, it’s not a solution.
It’s to enable creatives to have a back-and-forth discussion on the COMMUNICATION brief in simple words they can understand.
It’s to force everyone involved to choose which ONE thing they want to say.
To force everyone to keep it simple, clear, and fast.
To force people to make uncomfortable decisions before the ads are written.
If we don’t do that for the consumer they’ll do it themselves.
The average person experiences nearly 1,000 advertising communications a day in their very busy lives.

Just like the binary, we’re either on or off