Monday, 17 December 2012

No such thing as perfect

Type in ‘perfect Christmas gift’ in a search engine and see what happens.  I got 397,000,000 results…

I also saw a dozen or so ads on the way in to London all claiming to be ‘the perfect gift’. These included the BBC’s Olympic Ceremony DVD (really? the perfect gift?) who’d want to sit through 7 hours+ of people standing around waving flags? And what then, if bought, would I buy next year? Surely I have topped out there!

Made me think that perfect is an overused word. Perfect should be used for the ‘one thing’ that is deserving of the title. With so much perfection on offer, I now can’t distinguish between the good stuff and the not so good – let alone the ‘perfect’.

Perfect is one of those words that have lost its meaning; right up there with professional, rigorous and dependable.

I’ve mentioned this before but on this occasion, my thoughts aren’t about focusing on the ‘perfect’ and asking what makes it so, but on the other material that sets up the context and conditions for perfect to exist.

When it comes to matters of design, transfer, innovation, creative thinking and adult learning – all inheriting rules and disciplines – there is a great deal of material to consider before anything can be said to be perfect.

My advice – ignore perfect. It’s a myth.

Instead, embrace different, better, unusual, anti, shocking, hyper, stimulating or real.

Miles Davis famously spoke of playing the notes that weren’t there. I think there’s a great deal of wisdom in that thinking. If perfect is now available in 390+million forms at Christmas, there must be a great deal of stuff were missing…

Friday, 7 December 2012

Branding is a choice. Why then, if it's so obvious do people still find it hard to do?

I’ve just spent 2 days in Istanbul delivering speeches and workshop sessions on brand storytelling at this year’s Middle East Marketing Conference. A brilliant show and huge kudos to my fellow speakers.

Someone mentioned something to me before I stepped on stage.. [something like] “great shirt, you must be creative”. I thought little of it at the time but I knew there was something in that comment that said so much more about the way we perceive the world and as a result, do business.

Branding is a choice.

A brand is built on a thousand actions.

A brand owns a specific and unique place in our head – nothing else has the authority or authenticity to do so.

Hence you and I will spend more for a jacket with a Nike tick on it over the same top from Tescos. All this we know.

The same is for business.

I had a choice when I started this business. I could call myself ‘Founding Director’ and have printed cards and an email sign off to say so.  But I stand for something far more ambitious and exciting than reassuring professionalism.

We exist to help people solve the worlds problems.

How we do it is combining adult learning and design thinking to make visual workshop experiences.

What we do is facilitate leadership workshops and projects.

There’s a great deal of creative lubrication to make this happen and one way to help build that brand is through what we say, how we say it, what we wear and how we wear it and what we write and how we write it. So my shirt was a conscious choice as every moment I’m consciously building a brand (or at least doing my best to do so).

So thinking back, I guess I’ve heard the ‘colourful shirt = colourful mind’ arguments a lot.

I guess I am part of the crowd who are all building creative brands in the same way as me. We’ve all made choices to do so. Oddly enough, I’ve never known anyone in a colourful shirt to point at a guy in a suit and say the OPPOSITE. I’ve never heard anyone in my line of business say that people who wear suits made little choice to do so. In fact they spend a great of money on some of them as do I my shirts.  Suits are an extension of personal brand. NOT of or for the non-creative, the dull, the boring, the risk averse and the cynical.  Yet folk like that (often ‘branding experts’) are quick to tell me a great deal about how I appear to them.

And in so doing THIER brand is built by THAT action.

It would appear then, something so obvious is sometimes very hard to do.
Even by those who are quick to tell us we have nothing to offer them.