MOD Worldwides’s Nina Stanley is a creative powerhouse, heart disease survivor, and advocate for social good. As CCO, she’s helped build MOD into one of the top branding and design shops on the east coast and is pioneering the development of neuromarketing. Nina took some time to discuss brand purpose, causes she passionate about, and how MOD is utilizing Emotional Data™ to strengthen their work.
Tell us about MOD Worldwide, what’s your agency ethos and what impact does it have on creative output?
Our agency's ethos is to simplify to the point where you can't simplify it anymore, where you have just enough. Not too much, not too little. Not just the aesthetic, but the content as well. Our goal is to help people gain time back in their lives because we've helped them make a decision - easier and faster. Whether it's a hard decision like “what health insurance does my family need” or an easy one like “what are we having for dinner”? Both can be laborious in their own way, but when everything is easy, it's like a mile of green lights. That's what we want people to feel.
When did you first notice the industry’s shift toward more socially responsible themes? What were your initial thoughts?
I first noticed the shift, with the millennials becoming more vocal. The millennial generation has called "us," meaning the world, out on our bullshit. And it makes everyone stand up a little straighter by saying “we need to do something before it's too late”. I appreciate that –their willingness to speak up. My initial thoughts were, “this is amazing, and we should be talking about these issues,” because that's what our industry is all about. We help shape perspectives and enable people to take action on those perspectives. It's not about putting something out into the universe blindly. It's saying here is a problem and here is a solution. Whether you believe in that problem and solution is entirely different, but we're taking a stance on an issue, and this is how to help solve that problem.
Has the shift impacted your work and the way you approach it?
It hasn't impacted how we approach our work because we always use the same process. Our process has always been to learn as much as you can about the business you're working with, then rip it apart so you can understand. Is it as it should be? What I mean is, "is this offering exactly what it should be?” So, if I know the business, it's objectives, it's competitive landscape, only then I can then understand what’s missing. If I can identify what’s missing, then we can help tailor the offering to that need.
Are there any specific causes you hold near and dear? What have you been able to do fight for them?
Of course, there are causes that are important to me personally and the agency as a whole. The first one is the American Heart Association, specifically women's heart health and awareness. As an open heart surgery survivor, this one is truly special to me. I've been a spokesperson for them, done PSAs given interviews. And I'm a member of the Circle of Red. I help the AHA as much as possible so other women don’t have to face the same challenges I did to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
For the agency this past year, we worked with Covenant House PA for a campaign to promote fundraising in support of homeless youth. This was a truly meaningful project for the MOD team. When brainstorming and trying to find ways to tell this upsetting and jarring story, there wasn't a day that went by where our creative team wouldn't end up in tears. It's an emotional project, and we had a real connection to it. We wanted to, in some small way, feel like we were helping bring light to this epidemic. As a mother, thinking about a child living on the street, with no food, made it that much more important to created something that would shock people into making a change. If this campaign helped someone eat dinner, or have a warm place to sleep, it's worth it. You put yourself into these pieces, send them out there, and you hope it helps. We recently won a Creative Communication Award for this campaign, and it's rewarding to see that people felt something from what we created.
What are Neuromarketing and Emotional Data™? How do you utilize them at MOD Worldwide?
Neuromarketing is the blend of applied neuroscience and marketing.
It allows us to explore the human condition, collect Emotional Data™, predict the accuracy of marketing initiatives, and navigate future decision-making. Ultimately, this will enable us to help our partners create brand relevancy and product lust.
Emotional Data™ is our proprietary mix of neurobiological + physiological + behavioral data collection and analyzation.
Emotional Data™ allows us to accurately capture and understand exactly how consumers are feeling and what they are thinking – this allows us to better develop and create marketing assets that directly tap into those how's and what's ensuring brand resonance and brand love. Ultimately, this gives people back time in their lives because we helped them make a potentially complex decision faster.
What do you say to critics that believe brand purpose is just another trend?
Brand purpose can't possibly be a trend. Brand purpose is, "What do you stand for? Why are you here?" So, I don't know how that could be a trend.
I do think there is a trend bubbling up with calling it brand purpose. For someone to truly believe in your brand and what you're putting out into the universe, you have to have a purpose. If you don't have a purpose, no one is going to buy into your idea because you're just creating noise. So if you have a clear vision, a clear mission, a personality, and a real reason for why you went into business in the first place, then why wouldn't you tell people about it? That’s how you connect with your people on another level.
Is there any advice you have for creatives in the industry or even within your agency, who are passionate about an issue but aren’t sure what they can do to help?
While at a conference last year, I had the privilege of seeing Oprah speak, and she said, "What's your purpose in life? Why were you put on this Earth? What are you doing now to help fulfill that purpose?" And even after I left the conference this idea of "what is your purpose" stuck with me.
I genuinely believe that my purpose in life is to help simplify. I'm good at it. It's easy for me. I don't think this comes naturally for everyone, so I feel like my job is to do this for other people. I'm thankful that I've been able to build my entire company around my passion. So my advice to others is find a cause that you believe in and use your gifts to help it succeed.