Good creative work can make you gush. When you see it, you are hit by simultaneous reactions — you want to speak but your brain has already shifted from literal to figurative language. We call it “amazement” but it is not just an emotional implosion — it is also physical. You stammer, stutter and roll your eyes.
When I began to think through the Future of Your Brand, I started with this “wow” factor. To truly delve into the possible futures of the consumer-brand experience, I felt it was important to try and mine this state of being. I came up with a mnemonic P-L-A-Y that provided some guidance around what is needed to achieve this enhanced state of receptiveness (in the consumer):
P — for power
L — for learning and curiosity
A — for adventure
Y — the yelp of surprise and delight
At the moment I am working with a young woman who wants to change the world. She is working on a massive project for her final year of high school and she needed assistance with her marketing plan — and as we were working through the process, she was asking many questions (as she should), seeking to clarify what it is that we are doing. This forced me to realise that, although I have written many marketing plans before, there is still plenty to learn — both in terms of the way in which I communicate and teach as well as the nuances of marketing, communications and messaging. And bringing the real world experience of HOW this is activated back to a teaching framework brings another series of challenges — after all, while I understand (and often write about the theory), it is all based on my actual PRACTICE of marketing.
Today, we spent quite some time on messaging. I forwarded her my method for building out messaging and key themes and we worked our way through it via email and IM. What I was trying to get across to her was the importance of “surprising and delighting” your audience — but had forgotten about the P-L-A-Y approach that may have yielded faster results (I will mention it to her tomorrow).
But then an email popped into my inbox from Tim Brunelle who reminded me that what we are hoping for in our messaging is a revelation of sorts — “I hadn’t thought of it that way before”. Tim explains it more fully in this way:
“An instructor at the U of M told our class that we couldn’t get a good grade by writing a lot of facts and stuff about the subject. He said he knew just about everything there was to know about the subject because he’d been teaching the class for a long time. He said the only way to get a good grade was if he said to himself after reading our paper, ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way before.’ That, to me, is what ads are (or should) be all about.”
– Pat Burnham
Good messaging, which is at the heart of good advertising, has to be about surprising and delighting. You need the emotional and the rational connection. You need a message that reminds you that you are alive — a living, breathing and caring being — and a kick that drives you to action.
Tomorrow Isadore and I will be revisting Tim and Pat’s story and trying to apply it to the task at hand. And I dare say, that any project you are working on could benefit from the same creative review (no matter how far down the track you are). Remember, you have only one chance to make a first impression. Don’t waste yours.