Archive for the 'inspiring thoughts' Category

creative learning

An entertaining look at why we need to put more emphasis on creativity in education:

Thanks to newhighscore for sharing the clip, and to phil for bringing it to my attention.


good vs evil

Most people believe that good will triumph over evil.

This optimism is a core tenet of humanity.

Indeed, it’s so ingrained that we often assume that ‘good’ and ‘evil’ will be easy to tell apart – like night and day.

Sometimes this is the case; some crimes can never be justified, while some acts are universally welcomed.

However, much of our world view dictates ‘good’ from ‘evil’ on a purely subjective basis.

For example, religion will likely always remain a matter of individual opinion.

The same is true of culture.

There’s little doubt that globalisation has led to a degree of homogenisation of attitudes and behaviour, and we’ve lost much cultural variety along the way.

But this is nothing new; the Greeks and the Romans are perfect evidence that even the strongest and most influential ‘civilisations’ rise and fall.

This is because culture and ideas are subject to the same principles of evolution as biological species: only the fittest survive.

And as with biology, the key to continued survival is genetic diversity.

This means we must draw from as many influences as possible, but at the same time, ensure that we do not distill everything into a single, homogeneous result.

I was reminded of this while watching a fantastic TED talk from Dan Dennett (below).

He approaches the topic of cultural propagation from a philosophical angle, but there’s a clear relevance to advertising and planning in there too.

For me, the abiding lesson is that our individual cutural and moral perspectives are never ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

They’re simply subjective perspectives.

keep watching

strategy results

More wise words, this time from Winston Churchill.

where do you want to go?

logic and imagination

A fine observation from Albert Einstein, courtesy of littlemiss

join the dots

content is not king

John shared this gem a while ago, and I couldn’t resist re-posting it here.

Cory‘s statement is truly insightful: content like music, films, novels, and news is valuable in and of itself, but its value increases exponentially when it enables us to connect with others.

Because it’s those connections that people really care about.

So don’t just think about how you can connect your brand to your audience.

Think about how your brand can help your audience connect with each other as well.

John has lots of other great stuff on his blog – go take a look

orchestrating success


Marketing is similar to conducting an orchestra: our role is to bring all the different pieces of a story together into one, harmonious experience.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but this superb TED talk from Itay Talgam helped to bring those thoughts together:

Itay’s points have relevance to many areas of business, but they seem particularly pertinent to today’s world of participative brand relationships.

Let’s explore his points in a bit more depth.

Be as one

Itay begins his talk by observing that, until the conductor arrives, the orchestra is just making noise.

Some of that noise may stand out above the rest, but ultimately, the noise lacks a coherent structure.

A conductor’s role is to establish that structure:

“The conductor enables eveyone’s story to be heard at the same time.”

It’s important to remember that brands only exist in people’s minds, and their perceptions differ depending on individual experiences and context.

Some people hear different parts of our brand’s music in different ways, and those differences lead to differing perceptions and preferences.

As marketers, we need to ensure that the important instruments stand out, but also that they all come together in one, harmonious melody.

Communications should work as an ensemble

When combined effectively, a full orchestra delivers a far richer experience than any one instrument can on its own.

The same principle applies to communications channels (i.e. media): we can use the power of a ‘solo’ where appropriate, but relying too heavily on just one instrument can limit your potential.

Our task is to take the beauty and power inherent in each instrument, and weave each of them together into a rich symphony.

Audience participation is a double-edged sword

The clip Itay shows of the Viennese audience clapping along to the music is a great example of audience participation.

Rather than ‘interfering’ with the performance, their contribution adds to the ‘story’ and elevates the experience.

However, such participation would have ruined a rendition of Mozart’s Moonlight Sonata:

Where it’s relevant, audience participation can play a valuable part in the experience, but it’s critical to remember that it’s not always relevant.

Our task is to identify when it makes sense to harness participation, and then influence and guide it to ensure that it doesn’t become an unwelcome distraction.

Inspiration vs. control

Itay tells the story of the conductor at La Scala, who was forced to resign because he was overly commanding.

As Itay notes, trying to control with an iron fist removes the possibility of partnership – a loss that would have serious consequences in a world where participation is becoming increasingly important.

If we try too hard to command the conversations surrounding our brands, we risk suffocating them.

Instead, we need to shift our focus from control to guidance – as Itay suggests,

“Open a space for players to add in another layer of interpretation — their own.”

We can guide the conversation along a particular path, but we need to allow that conversation the freedom to evolve of its own accord as well.

Immerse yourself

Quite early on in his talk, Itay notes that:

“success comes from happiness”

I’ve mentioned this before: if you want to be the best at what you do, you’ve got to love doing it.

Most importantly, you’ve got to get involved.

A means vs. the end

For me, the most salient point in Itay’s talk is when he contrasts interpretation with execution.

As marketers in a social world, our role is to inspire; not to control.

That will inevitably lead to some unexpected results; sometimes, people will interpret our efforts in a way that is markedly different to what we’d intended.

However, as long as the the results are still favourable, there’s little reason to worry: there are many different routes to success, and it’s arriving at the destination that counts.

All the right notes…

I’ll conclude with a point I’ve made a few times before: success in marketing depends on them, not you.

Sometimes, even if you play all the right notes, you can’t guarantee you’ll achieve success.

Take it away Eric, Ernie, and André…

Thanks very much to John for sowing the seeds of this post in my mind, and to Inaki for introducing me to Itay’s TED talk.

one of a kind


KINDED is a fantastic idea – one of those rare occasions where I want to go out and try a brand just because of its communications.

It’s organised by KIND, a “not-ONLY-for-profit” brand of hand-made, all-natural snacks from Australia.

I’ll refrain from calling this a campaign, because it’s not.

Rather, it’s a wonderful way to bring the brand philosophy to life, giving KIND relevance and making the brand a welcome part of your life.

The underlying concept of this ‘movement’ is ‘ random acts of kindness’, but it adds elements of the game ‘tag‘ and features from this fascinating initiative that tracks the movements of dollar bills in the U.S.

Here’s what the brand has to say about its ‘movement’:

Ever wish you could do an incredible kind act for someone else, but can’t do it alone? The KIND team wants to help make it happen.

KINDED is a movement inspiring unexpected kind acts. These kind acts can be anything from helping someone carry heavy bags, sharing your umbrella, or paying for a stranger’s coffee.

“KINDED cards” serve as licenses to do kind acts for people who might otherwise be wary, making KINDED easy to pass on.

And since each card has a unique code and can be mapped online, you can track how far your chain of KINDING travels and view kind acts happening around the world.

They go on to explain that the KINDED cards make it easier to overcome the social awkwardness that some people associate with helping a random stranger, by acting as an ice-breaker and explanation.


At the time of writing, 719 ‘KINDINGS’ have already been performed.

You don’t need to wait for someone to pass their card to you though – you can apply for one and start a chain of your own simply by popping over to the KINDED website.

So why do I think this is such a great activity?

Firstly, the concept is very simple: it focuses entirely on sharing the brand’s philosophy.

That may seem a narrow objective, but I now know exactly what the brand stands for – what makes it different, and why I should be interested. And that’s enough to make me want to try it.

Secondly, there’s no need for people to buy anything. It sees the world from the audience’s perspective, overcoming the “I know you’re trying to sell me something, so why should I even pay attention?” factor.

But most of all, this activity will bring joy and warmth to people’s lives – it will make people happy.

That’s powerful ‘CSR‘ that will inspire conversations, PR coverage, awareness, and goodwill.

All in all, a highly engaging communications proposition.


Thanks so much to Springwise for the pointer. Images ‘borrowed’ from the KINDED website. And no, as far as I’m aware, I have no connection of any kind to KIND – I just think this is a great way to build a brand.


Other Distractions