Value Exchange

By | Uncategorized

When we give attention to a piece of text it’s almost always because we think we’re going to get something out of reading it. That’s a value exchange and if you’re not giving your readers any value, you won’t build any readers. The only exception to this is if you’re working in a coercive environment where you can penalise people for failing to read. Good luck with that to anyone writing outside North Korea.

Dove

By | Uncategorized

Dove took a very ordinary soap and found what was at the time a very extraordinary proposition. At the heart of this leap forward was research which told Dove what everyone already knew but had never really identified properly. Namely that women filtred out most marketing messages delivered by models because they weren’t real women.

Story change and communication

By | Communication theory, content, Story, Strategy, Uncategorized

From zero to hero. The classic log line for a Hollywood storyline. Why? because there’s lots of change implicit in zeros becoming heros. A perfect example of this would be the log-line for Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Where the filthy rich meet the dirty poor. You can almost see that there will be change for both the two main characters. Without change there can be no story and without story there’s no communication. These three things go together and if you’re going to understand any one of them you need to understand them all.

Another way of looking at this is by investigating what happens when there’s no change. And by that we also mean no change in expectation. If you were to try to build a story around visting a vending machine: You go to the a vending machine in some big building.

You select, say a Kit Kat, put your money in, and a Kit Kat duly drops onto the tray. Well, there’s no possible story that can come out of that because in no way has any expectation been thwarted or extended. However, if a Kit Kat didn’t drop down, but something much more unexpected did, say a packet of class A drugs, you have the beginnings of a storyline.

Pregnant Man – the logic flow

By | Communications craft, Creativity, Uncategorized


How do you get the pregnant man from a proposition that says “Be more careful about getting your girlfriend pregnant”?

Answer: Start with every related idea around pregnancy. Especially the ones that are so obvious you no longer see them.

Especially the  rule that says men don’t get pregnant. Turn this upside down.

Then exaggerate it so they get very pregnant – just like a woman close to term.

Finally, make it look the most normal thing in the world. To sum up: Start with a trope, invert it, exaggerate and normalise.

 

When the above process is done, you’ve created a symmetry across the impossible. On one hand your brain sees the logic of it and on the other it fights the impossibility. The power of the communication comes from this.

In another example of creating ideas by creating symmetries is shown in the following idea for Robinson’s Barley Water. This is a sketch of the ad.
The idea starts with mapping out the form of a tennis ball on an orange and then normalizing it. The visual is such so closely symmetric you hardly notice the orange dimples on the tennis ball.

Tone Wheel

By | Brand, Tone, Uncategorized

In any highly competitive market, where there is a surfeit of products all competing for the same proposition, then inevitably, the propositions become hard to distinguish. In these cases a sort of exclusion principle applies.  Once one successful brand has occupied one slot, the next successful product to compete in that space will have to occupy a different tonal slot.

This is where brand tonality and personality becomes the difference; When price, product, promotion etc are all identical.

To understand this graphically it helps to see tone in terms of the following wheel. It shows how brands connect to the idea of archetype, an idea originally conceived by Jung.
If you’d like to read more about the role of archetypes in brands and organisations try The Hero and the Outlaw, by Margaret Mark and Carol S Pearson.

 

Write the driving test report

By | Communications craft, content, Report

All you have to do is pick one of these Mr Men characters and imagine you’re going to take him on a test in one of the vehicles.

Your role is the chief driving examiner and also licensing authority for whatever vehicle they’re getting tested in. Decide what they do on their test, and report what happened, so their suitability can be assessed.

Tom picked Mr Fussy and the Ice Cream van, but you’re free to pick any combination at all. All that we ask is that you produce something clear simple and well structured. You can use the following template if it helps.

Context

What has prompted this report?

Problem

What is the question or problem your report needs to address?

Observations

What actually did you notice on this test? (see observations)

Exposure

What are the possible consequences of these observations?

Insight

When you ask why the observations occurred, what answers come to light? The result probing the root cause of something usually generates an insight.

Recommendations

What do you recommend the licensing authority and does or withholds from the individual?

Working like a detective

By | Case history, Uncategorized


For a great professional case it’s important the expert sees beyond where other lesser professionals get fobbed off. In this case, in what is a classic twist from Murder on the Orient Express, the incriminating hankerchief bears the initial H. So it can’t possibly belong to Natalia. Or so you might think. However Poirot knows that in Russian an H is pronounced an N and so it could indeed be Natalia’s.
The premise of expertise in case history writing is that when nothing is quite what it appears only a specialist with raised levels of perception can ascertain what really is going on.

Creativity where you least expect it

By | Creativity, Strategy, Thought leadership


There have been many funky things you can do with the design of a bike stand, and I’ve had to lock my bike to quite a few of them. Some of them are really annoying because they allow a bike to topple over. But this one I spotted in Islington is a breath of fresh air. And like all neat creative ideas, it starts by asking a question no one else had bothered to ask: What would bike parking look like if it were designed by someone who wasn’t a cyclist or a road engineer? What if it were designed by a landscape gardener? The ability create different answers starts with the ability to ask different questions. And follow them through to interesting conclusions.