Previously, I’ve written about the progress of Marketing and Communications over time (Marketing Era’s; From-functional-to-aspirational-to-meaningful-economy). One might argue that such definition of trends and cycles is outdated even irrelevant, since the pace of change in society and culture today is so fast, things move on before we can even discuss them. But, I still believe it is worthwhile to scope out the landscape we are working in, if for nothing else, just to know its modus operandi. Also it is worthwhile (1) to understand the changes in people’s behavior and how to deal with them (policies, products, conversations). (2) To understand the effects of these changes and how to navigate the future. After all, the intelligent brand/ corporation is one who can adapt and be ready for the future.
With that in mind, I believe that the current cycle is one of conversation / experience. More than that, it is one where stories shine. If we consider the rise of WordPress, tumblr, wordpad and even Pinterest and Instagram, I believe one thing they have in common is the idea of sharing our ‘stories’ with people. Even when we tweet we are sharing a ‘story’ of sorts.
Thanks to (as a result of) the digital revolution, people have become accustomed to giving more media more of their time. People spend short – sometimes long – chunks of time engaged in watching videos (Vimeo, youtube), reading (slideshare, blogs, facebook and twitter links), playing games (with all the emotions they involve). Only an interesting ‘story’ makes people do that.
If you look at the print ads below (source: Archive magazine vol.3 2012), you will see that they tell interesting stories. They engage people with an introduction, main plot and conclusion of sorts.
The notion of stories in marketing is not new. But what I believe is important is the way we look at stories from a brand viewpoint.
A brand story is not just a manifesto. Everything the brand does is part of its storyline. And unlike in the past, the ‘storyline’ doesn’t need to continue identically through all communication touchpoints. In fact, we can consider all touchpoints and all aspects of the brand as having unique stories with unique sub-plots, characters and settings across all touchpoints. They don’t all need to look or feel or sound identical. As long as they tell the story in total. At different points in time, one outweighs the other (see diagram below).
So next time you’re briefing your agency, make sure they understand and have a plan to tell your brand story though various touchpoints and that each touchpoint has its own engaging story and emotion. That’s what we do for our brands ;) It’s what keeps our work fresh, intriguing and interesting.
Sometimes I am so inspired by certain things in business. These days SME’s and Entrepreneurs in the region are doing things differently to the way they had been before the new economy. They are customer service oriented and in fact they are a direct result of errors (read: opportunities) that have arisen from old ways of working. A few businesses are really reaching out to their customers and being open and transparent and providing added-value.
But then, I read and / or experience certain things and realize that some people / organizations are not yet hitting the mark.
Like this proud claim I read on a piece of communication recently: “The Largest Loyalty program in the region”.
What exactly does that mean? Is it the largest by number of subscribers? Or the largest by number of outlets that are part of the program? In any case, how does either of those benefit the consumers who are part of the program? What is the real benefit of belonging to the program?
So to those organizations who are still selling empty promises, there is a lot of merit to being the biggest and largest – but if you can translate that to something more tangible and rewarding, which will actually benefit your consumers you will find your business and your people (customer and employee) relationships will benefit.
Have a positive day :)
A movie says more than a thousand words
Some of my friends and colleagues often joke about my reaction to things. It’s not rare to hear me exclaim wow! when a designer shows me a thing of beauty or when another creative comes up with a great idea. The fact is that these little thoughts / ideas / designs – no matter how small and where they come from – are rare little pieces of brilliance and creativity. They might solve a problem (big or small) or connect people or concepts, or just make the world a more beautiful and better place.
I am a champion of creativity and open mindedness. I love and support the creative process and connecting previously unconnected ideas together. I believe the result is a small step to humankinds’ improvement. And todays’ economy is powered by this creation and innovation. This is what WordPress and Tumblr and Blogging and Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Google+ and Youtube and Smartphones (you get my drift!) are all about. They get people designing, creating, solving and then sharing.
I read something yesterday – I cant remember who said it or where I read it (so sorry about the lack of attribution) but it was something like “if we honestly seek to change ourselves or our condition just 1% each day, that’s 365% of change in a year”.
So, here’s to more WOW! moments, living consciously and changing our condition and the world positively.
In communications, great ‘insights’ are coveted. To be in touch with our consumers and find out how they spend their time, what they hope, what they fear, what they are motivated by, how they choose, how they live. These ‘insights’ help us develop communications that will engage people and trigger some sort of response or connection.
A lot has been written about insights – how to get them and how to crystalise them. But I think nothing has been written on capturing insights in an economy and landscape and lifestyle that has remarkably changed. So, although the pace of the world and the pace of change today is spinning faster than previously, I think the way we capture our insights hasn’t adapted.
We still spend time searching for the ‘golden egg’ when this concept is outdated in todays economy.
Today there are many inspired people with ‘hack / prototype’ mentality and ways of doing things. People who have a belief and vision to change the world. They don’t wait for an ‘insight’ – they work on a belief. So it follows, that our strategic insights should come from this starting point. I put forward that insights should be real, instinctive, based on a belief on where the world is headed, and based on a reservoir of built-up research – i.e not research commissioned specifically to capture an insight.
This is ‘radical’ coming from a ‘planner’ because insights have been the area planning has been built around (Bernbach, Pollitt et al) but advertising as we know it is history. So whilst we’re reinventing the advertising wheel, we should start by reinventing how we define and crystalise insights as well.
Food for thought.
Last week we had some fun.
We gave each and everyone in Livingroom a line, a belief, a promise from our agency Manifesto and a week to come up with an idea around it.
It would have been one of those tasks that get lost in inboxes,
thrown on the back burner while day to day work takes priority,
or even ignored and forgotten till its dead and meaningless.
Luckily, we don’t abide by the ‘Normally’.
Instead, things happened.
We heard finance pitching their ideas to designers over a cigarette break,
We saw Brand Navigation experimenting with Photoshop,
Journey planning playing around with fonts,
Mission Control scratching their brains,
Connection having fun,
After hours brainstorming sessions,
Proud & glowing faces with ‘I found my idea’ written all over them.
And the result was mind blowing, nothing less than ‘Goose bumpy’,
Livingroom transformed into an art exhibition where everyone displayed their ‘own-created-developed’ idea.
It was heartwarming.
A reinforcement to our belief that great ideas come from anywhere and that we were indeed surrounded by Talent.
Definitely a big SMOOCH!
Check for yourselves:
ITS WHEN YOU’D TOUCH EACH OTHER WITHOUT A GUILT
ITS THAT TIGHTEST HUG YOU’D GIVE YOUR PARTNER
ITS WHEN YOU’D STAY LATE COZ YOUR PARTNER HAS A DATE
WE BELIEVE EVERY PIECE OF WORK WE DO IS LOVED TO BITS
WE BELIEVE THAT EVERY PIECE OF ART WE CREATE…WE CUM OVER IT
WE BELIEVE TALENTS ARE IRREPLACEABLE
WE BELIEVE OUR FLABBY TUMMY WILL NOT SLOW US DOWN
WE BELIEVE THAT EVERYONE OF US IS A PAGE IN THE BOOK CALLED ‘THEY DID IT’
WE BELIEVE IN INDIVIDUAL INDEPENDENCE & COLLECTIVE VICTORIES THAT TURN INTO BEST SELLERS
ITS A BELIEF THAT MAKES OUR HEARTS BEAT LOUDER THAN THUNDER
IT’S THAT CUP OF TEA YOU’S PREPARE FOR A VISITOR, A COLLEAGUE OR A CLIENT
WE ARE BELIEVERS
EINSTEIN ONCE SAID ‘FUCK YOU’. WE SAY, ‘FUCK YOU EINSTEIN’
WE BELIEVE THERE IS NO NIGHT…JUST THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT
WHEN THE SUN SLEEPS, WE TURN ON THE STARS
IT’S THE HONEST LAUGHTER THE SECURITY ON THE GROUND FLOOR WILL HEAR
BECAUSE WE’RE LIVING
Following from the previous post (“Everyone is replaceable”, you said) – see what happens when you inspire your biggest asset. Here are powerful statements that people @Livingroom have made about what it’s like to work here. It’s proof that magic happens when you ignite peoples spirit, and show your Talent you CARE.
And when your people are onside, there is no stopping you!
I’ve always been the rebel at the forefront of employee causes, raises, corporate freedom.
I fought wars.
I challenged CEOs.
I initiated petitions and brought back ‘fired’ Talents against management’s will.
I was hated and respected by people, depending which side they were on.
Then one day, I became ‘Management’,
and I was given the answer to all issues,
…the magic formula management lives by,
…The ‘secret’ transmitted by one management generation to the other,
…the ultimate advice:
‘now that you are taking a new role, always keep in mind that everyone is replaceable’
I was shocked.
How could anyone praise their ‘assets’ at every public occasion and live by that formula behind closed doors.
I was never convinced and never learned that.
I couldn’t make the leap.
I was considered the black sheep of ‘management’.
Whilst management always praised that ‘people were their biggest assets’, they were still convinced that clients were the source of revenue, which put Talent as a major source of ‘expense’.
My constant debate was that our Talents were in fact our main source of revenue and that they deserved much more in return.
I was treated as an idealistic, a dreamer, a naïve people’s person… an obstacle.
Talents don’t join companies for money, name, location, medical insurance or even client lists. Employees do.
Talents are on the constant look out for a company with an amazing Spirit and true genuine Beliefs.
A place that offers endless possibilities to actually achieve what they have in mind.
An honest place where the formula applied behind closed doors is actually the same one shouted out loud in company gatherings.
The moment the Spirit & Belief appear fake…
The moment they realize they are as valuable as a replaceable spare part…
Their strong feeling of belonging fades away.
The more time I spend doing what I do, the more my beliefs in Talents are reinforced.
The more hours I spend talking to Talents, the more I know I am not a dreamer or an ‘obstacle’.
The more job interviews I make, the more I realize that Talents are rare.
Talents are irreplaceable.
Everything else is.
I always said it. I keep saying it. And I will always live by it.