Tuesday, 13 February 2007


From Pink Air via Russell Davies:

"Howard Gossage famously (but not yet famously enough) said:

"The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it's an ad."

This obvious, brilliant observation reminds us that advertising has to compete in the cultural big leagues whether we acknowledge it or not, right up there with Flaubert and Shakira.

He also identifies exactly what it takes to succeed at that level: you have to be interesting.

The idea that ads, and more importantly, brands, should be interesting is perhaps so obvious that it never even reaches our consciousness. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t get the attention and resources devoted to relatively paltry goals like recall and “message comprehension” (We’ve now shown you this ad that says ‘Krispy Kookoos drive me Krazy!’ three times. What would you say is the main message?)"

So our brands/communications should be (From RD:)

Being interesting and useful are pretty straightforward. We are naturally drawn towards interesting people rather than dullards and people who can help us are clearly better for us than those that aren't. But the idea of people constantly changing and making mistakes is less obvious. Perpetual beta is a term borrowed from the likes of Flickr, Ebay and other web 2.0 brands. They are constantly being tested and updated by a hardcore of their brand's community. The tag of beta gives them credibility and freshness and implies that their users can input into the brand.

To steal from Russell Davie's cos he says it so well:

"1. A constant stream of ideas, bundled together by a common brand/business purpose.

(Can you bundle a stream? Probably not, but you know what I mean.) The business environment these brands live in mean they can't simply do a big idea. They have to keep innovating in order to stay relevant and interesting. The old software model of a big upgrade every couple of years is being replaced by a stream of little enhancements and fixes. I suspect the same will soon be true for brands. The old model of a big launch of a big idea followed by cut-downs of said big idea to deliver mind-numbing levels of repetition simply won't survive contact with the contemporary media landscape. And a key characteristic of a brand that's likely to survive the modern world will be creative fecundity, the ability to just keep having new ideas and to keep putting them out in the world.

2. Being prepared for mistakes

One of the other interesting characteristics about always being in beta is accepting that mistakes are going to happen. And preparing for them. And thinking about, maybe, trying to turn them into opportunities. Flickr's attempt to turn a 'we're down' message into fun probably annoyed some people but I liked it are clearly so did lots of other people. When you're moving at the speed that the modern world demands mistakes are inevitable. Being surprised by them shouldn't be. Mistakes are also when the veneer tends to slip, if there is a veneer. The authentic voice of a brand or organisation is exposed when something goes wrong, if it's not the same as the voice you normally speak with people will notice.

3. Building with your community

I guess a key idea behind web2.0 is that it's the community of users that provide the value. And that's increasingly true for brands. I don't think anyone would argue with that."

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