Little People

Glasshalffull You may have already seen this, but I love the perspective that this site brings to city life.

Small models are photographed in London street scapes. I believe that they are left to "fend for themselves".

These pictures have an inherently poetic quality. When we view them, we take into account the perspective and the scale. We look at the "everyday" landscape in a completely different way. Nice.

The Many Faces of Us

Shattered icon
Originally uploaded by cattycamehome.

How many faces to you have? How many IDs? How many passwords? If you are like me, then you will have many!

I have user IDs and passwords for home and for work. I have accounts with Flickr, Yahoo, Typepad, news sites (in Australia and around the world), games sites, game makers, Amazon, eBay, blah blah blah. There are even subscriptions that I have forgotten about.

This is part and parcel of an online life, and something that struck me upon reading this article at Brandnoise.

But there is something deeper in all of this that is challenging for brands. This proliferation of identities, I suspect, has a huge impact on the WAY we choose to interact with brands. It also has a massive potential to transform our understandings of brands and the process of branding.

The range of web and other identities that we "own" can reflect parts of our authentic selves. And as these are INTERACTIVE and fluid, the manner in which we inhabit these IDs allow us to engage with brands differently. Through these IDs we enter an IMAGINARY brand space … where the we are able to PLAY with brands.

In a way, we are PERFORMING. And as performers, we also gain a critical insight INTO those brands and the ways that they position themselves in relation to the MANY FACES OF US. We are able to seek out the anomalies, the inconsistencies and imbalances of brands. And the more we play with brands and the more angles we take, the easier it is for us to see through the one dimensional brand.

The challenge for marketers is to open the brand out to this type of play and engagement. Some are doing this already through YouTube and opening branded content to open source communities … but there is still plenty of work to be done. How far are you prepared to go as a marketer? What about as a consumer? And do you go there as yourself or just as PART of YOU?


Creative Challenge

Why do you do the work you do? Why put the effort in?

Do you want to be famous? Do you want to change the world? Do you want to help someone see their world just a little differently?

Google have a mantra, "do no evil". The Staufenbergers have laid down a challenge to designers to "do good things". I really like this approach … and I like the philosophy behind it.

In the past, I’ve managed to ease my conscience by reminding myself that marketing has the power to do good and doing the odd bit of COI work can help as well. In the ongoing task of conscience easing, Staufenberger have joined forces with two doctors, Dr Kanwal Kalim and Dr Geraint Lewis. The aim is to marry specialist medical knowledge with communication understanding with the intention of working together with the public and private sector to promote public health. Think about something like Jamie Oliver’s school dinners as great example of the communication of public health.

What they are doing is calling on the graphic designers out there who may have an image, a design or photograph locked away gathering dust … and asking for donations. Sure there may not be any money in it, but a little love goes a long way.

So if you feel you have some love to spare … drop by and help the guys out.


Attention Dogs

Originally uploaded by Vincent in London.

We all know about the dog whistles that resonate at a frequency so high that it is beyond human hearing,  but I never knew dogs could read. In English.

I guess this is what it means to really know your audience (see I am resisting the urge to pun).

But to all those dog readers out there (yes, I mean dog, not blog), I would like to remind them of the following:

woar, woar, woar, woar … grrrr, grrr, woof.

Loosely translated … I have had a couple of articles published on the excellent MarketingProfs site run by the charming Ann Handley. One is entirely original and the other is a better version of this. Hope you enjoy them … and while you are there, check out this article which is so cool it features The Fonz.

Armchair with Wheels

We don’t have an “ordinary” relationship with our cars. They are not JUST products and they cannot be reduced to a BRAND. Our choice of car says much about how we see ourselves, and, importantly, our cars communicate our identity to others faster than an evening of conversation.

I am often struck by the type or colour of car that a person drives — especially when the car does not coincide with MY sense of that person. In a way it is like speaking with someone on the phone and then, when you meet face-to-face, you find that the colour of their hair is the “wrong” colour. It is even stranger when someone turns out to ride a motorbike — especially if you picture them as a car driver. Perhaps this says more about me than about them. It is weird, but when I meet someone, I almost immediately get a sense of the car that they drive. Even reading a person’s blog gives me a sense of what kind of car they would drive. So when I was reading that Russell Davies didn’t mind the idea of a Honda Goldwing (ie an armchair with wheels), I was at a loss. It just did not fit for me.

Imagine how relieved I was to read this post. Suddenly it made more sense … Russell was really a JPS F1kind of guy. What really sunk home was the line, “The Formula One of my youth” — this is where the power of cars and of motorbikes really sits — in memory. One of the reasons that cars resonate for us is that they have an immediate, PRESENT effect on us as we drive them. They offer us a huge PROMISE (escape, fun, adventure) and then they deliver. And they keep delivering as memories (even an “old bomb” of a car can come to be loved over time) … and as STORIES.

It is the story that is important. The more stories we can build around the car, the more we will remember and love the car, and the more we drive (or even live in) the car, the greater will be our attachment. But, as a protagonist in the story, the car MUST have character (sometimes it even needs a name — could Stephen King’s Christine have been called anything else?). And the character and even the name reflects something back at us, links us with our own sense of identity and the wider world.

Really, there is nothing wrong with driving an armchair with wheels. After all, where else do you sit for storytime?


2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (C197) (06) Georg Sander via Compfight

What Happened to the Customers?

What the consultant saw
Originally uploaded by Scott Adams.

I laughed when I saw this picture the first time. And I laughed when I saw it again today. It was in an article on consultants over at HorsePigCow.

As I read through the article and thought about the picture, I started to also think about this article by David Armano. David encourages us all to get out into the world and mingle … walk and talk with the people we design and create for. And then it struck me … the thing that was missing from the picture was the customers. Here was a picture of a park, but there was no one there … no kids, parents or even dogs.

Of course, it is easy to think that your CLIENT is always right … they are the ones paying the bills after all. But what happens when you create your work … a consultant’s report, a website, an ad campaign (whatever it is) and no-one buys, watches or engages with it? What if you imagine, design, manufacture and install the BEST swing in the world but it is in a park that no one visits? It is important to keep your focus on your CLIENT’S customers … because long after the project closes people will remember (and perhaps continue using) your work. And then no one will remember the brief, the challenges or the implementation.

They will only know how YOUR work affects their life now. Is it easy? Nooo! Is it worthwhile? It is if you want to proudly stand by your work.

Stand up for the customers. It might hurt at first, but it is good pain. Go on … you know its true.