Category

Thought leadership

Playground for the imagination

By | Creativity, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now | No Comments

Over control and obsession with health and safety is the biggest killer of creativity. And it seems parents in the UK have become masters of it, but not so in Germany and Denmark. Maybe as this video suggests, because they were able to observe what kids were doing on bomb sites after the war. It’s tempting to link this with a lower child suicide rate in these countries too. Whatever your parental notions are, the lessons for creativity are clear. It’s a messy business and if you over protect you ultimately stifle.

Truncation is a funny business

By | Communications craft, Funny, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now | No Comments

One of the problems mobiles responsive sizing gives us is that we’re never sure exactly what is going to appear as the final result. Pictures have to be created so that the subject of the picture is in the centre. That limits things considerably. And there’s even more trouble when you start putting type messages in respsonsive situations.

You want the message to appear as Acme is proud to sponsor World Aid . But what you actually see in certain screens is different.

Acme is proud to ponsor id. The truncation is worse than meaningless. It makes the brain work hard to guess something that probably wasn’t very interesting in the first place. The Two Ronnies nailed the experience with this classic sketch.

Until Linkedin produces responsive banners the advice has to be don’t put type in the banner head.

Creativity where you least expect it

By | Creativity, Strategy, Thought leadership

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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.

Starting with a story

By | Communication theory, Communications craft, content, Funny, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now


Masters of story don’t start with a simple fact or assertion, they weave a story that does the same thing.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks could have begun his speech by simply saying something like “all faiths have similarities, but they also have interesting differences.”
That would have been a perfectly coherent way to start a speech at an interfaith dinner. But by starting with a story that demonstrates the same thing, he does so much more than assert a first beat.
He demonstrates mastery of the story form, establishes his own character as a player at Government level, and also brings some laughs to the room. But the story is always in the service of demonstrating the first beat of the rest of his speech.

The bigger picture

By | B2B, Communication theory, Communications craft, content, Thought leadership, Uncategorized, What's out there now

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-21-55-26article-2332079-1a092eab000005dc-128_634x417 screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-21-20-07 How do you tell a longer story in just a few web frames when there’s so much to say and so few words to say it in?
Do you squeeze everything in to your first sentence in a general way and hope people will telepathically understand the message? Or do you try something completely different?
How about the big picture route?
Obviously, you need to say something that speaks to what’s interesting topical and important for your audience. (That might take a little creative thought). There are no limits to what it could be, but it has to sit credibly close to the main purpose of your brand or product.
Then, by giving snapshots of that central thought and related ideas, you can build a much more powerful idea up. This is the bigger picture route and it’s the way you build classic campaigns. It enables you to interest people in what you’ve got to say rather than bludgeon them with standard issue clich├ęs.
If what we’re saying here sounds a little abstract, think of the bigger picture and the sub message working like these pictures of the queen. Both work on the fact that the human brain is always trying to distil meaning out of anything it sees hears or feels. You just have to have one eye on what that meaning could be. Try it, and you’ll find it amazingly liberating, because you’re working with your audience’s brains not against them.
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Are you really getting your client's world?

By | B2B, Communication theory, Communications craft, Strategy, Thought leadership, What's out there now


Chris Voss, an ex FBI negotiator is used to dealing with murderers, rapists and terrorists. Here he shares his biggest insights into communications.
Chris explains that being able to play back, almost verbatim, the exact argument of the other side, is more important than expounding the rationality of your own case.
When you repeat exactly what the other side has just said, and they reply, “That’s right“, you’ve achieved the first and most important part of a negotiation: Demonstrating that you actually get where they’re coming from.
Probably the most striking moment of the interview is when Chris describes how one of his team was called up by a hostage taker they had negotiated with a short while back.
“A bad guy called Sabaya. Head-choppin’ terrorist, rapist, real bad, bad guy. Sabaya calls us up two weeks after the negotiation and says: ‘ Did you get a promotion?'”
“‘You should have. I don’t know what you said to me on the phone but I was going to kill Jeffrey. You kept me from doin’ it. They should promote you.’ Then hangs up.”
And so it is with customers, stakeholders and prospects. Getting their worlds as they see it, not as you do, or your CEO does, is the first step to doing business with them. Most of the time we’re not talking to head-chopping murderers and rapists, just people who don’t share your corporate view on how effective your services are.
But like head-chopping murderers and rapists they have an alternative narrative on the way things are.
And the needle only starts moving when you’ve proved you’ve heard what they’re trying to say.

TED topics for Industry 4.0

By | B2B, Communications craft, content, Strategy, Thought leadership, What's out there now

Thought leadership has been a buzzword for a little while now.
To do it well you famously have to be able to have thoughts and also to lead. Neither of those two things are particularly easy things to do. For many content producers, it may feel like a big mountain to climb. They way to succeed is to break it down and get a little help.
Imagine you have to create a TED talk for your product or brand. What would it talk about? What are the big themes that operate around your product or brand that you personally find fascinating? Still stuck? Ok, try something simpler, treat it as an exercise in curation.
Just make a list of existing TED talks that seem to discuss topics near to the issues close to the brand. Then, write a few comments or remarks that bridge any relevant issues that need connecting. Here are some of mine for a company that’s designing software for a modern business. They deal with what’s generally called user centred experience. The connecting comments simply need to answer the question, “What’s the relevance of this inspiring video to what these guys actually sell?” Even if it’s obvious, it’s good to make it explicit so you don’t leave your audience in the fuzzy further reaches of philosophy.