everything says something – the secret arts of communication…

Communication is the lifeblood of human existence. The quality of our ability to communicate effectively, has shaped the development of the world as it stands today, so really, it’s a pretty big thing! In todays digital world, there is a vast plethora of ever-increasing forms and mediums for communication (Snapchatwhatsapp, twitter etc.) that have moved things on from the dizzy days of the humble ‘mixtape’ as a form of personal and intimate communication!

the classic ‘mixtape’ was all about communication

the classic ‘mixtape’ was all about communication

communication | kəˌmyo͞onəˈkāSHən |
noun
the imparting or exchanging of information or news: the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings: social contact: means of connection between people, places or things: a communications network.

Communication takes place at both macro and micro levels. On a personal basis, the very essence of who we are often communicates far more eloquently than anything we can ever say or do. We are in fact the walking talking embodiment of our own ‘brand’. Sometimes communication gets masked, renamed or dressed up in fancy buzz words, but this tends to simply add layers of unnecessary complexity, to what is in essence, a very simple thing. We are our own brand. What we say and do communicates this to all we come in contact with.

In marketing and advertising, companies want to tell (bore!) people every little tiny detail about their product. I think they often labour under the belief that people buy their products based upon these tiny details? They don’t. The details may reinforce their emotional desire or need to justify their purchase after the decision has already been made in their heart. With most things, you have a 3-5 second window to grab someones attention with your message, so the ‘hook’ needs to be clear, concise and one that emotionally engages the audience. When a message is simplified, the power and impact of the communication is often exponentially increased, Apples iconic and hugely successful 1999 iMac ‘Yum’ Poster is simplicity personified!

Apples iconic 1999 iMac ‘Yum’ Poster – simplicity personified

Apples iconic 1999 iMac ‘Yum’ Poster – simplicity personified

‘The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate’
J. B. Priestley

One of the most vital aspects of communication is understanding that it is a two-way process. It should not be a dry monologue, it should be an interactive and engaging dialogue where listening is probably the most essential ingredient.

The Chinese verb ‘to listen’ is interestingly made up from five different Chinese characters – Ear, You, Eyes, Undivided attention and Heart. The fact that it is made up of these different aspects tell us something significant about this multifaceted component of the communication process.

to listen requires more than just your ears

to listen requires more than just your ears

The absence of ‘listening’ is most easily demonstrated in poor examples of customer service. Here the vital aspect of the communication process is not just about passing on good news, or dealing with happy/satisfied clients, more often it is dealing with situations where things have not gone as expected or desired! People can actually deal with hearing bad news, in fact they can be more easily placated simply by keeping them in the loop at all stages as to what is actually going on. Often the biggest frustration of rail commuters if there are delays or cancellations, is not necessarily the delay itself (although this does not help), it is the simple fact that they are not properly kept informed of what is happening. If the rail companies listened to what their customers were actually saying, the quality of their customer service could be greatly improved!

The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.
Sydney J. Harris

As in life, communication is a central component of doing business, but it often gets renamed (or hidden/confused) as dress code, customer service, advertising, product design, branding, marketing, interior design, social media, customer experience, sales, user experience etc. etc. If you don’t recognise these terms as some of your primary sources of business communication, then it could be that you are not in full charge of the messages you are inadvertently communicating as part of your everyday activities?

Everything is connected, everything is reflective, and everything says something about you or your business…

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak – Hans Hofmann

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak – Hans Hofmann

Thanks for taking the time out to read this, much appreciated! Please feel free to share it with your friends, and add any thoughts or comments you might have on it…

Chris

don’t just like it, LOVE it!

Andy Warhol was clearly a visionary artist and thinker… but did you also realise he could see into the future too!? It might be very easy for his other more noted art work to have overshadowed this ability, but the fact is, he saw into the future and summarised one of todays primary social media companies (Facebook) raison d’être very succinctly…

‘I think everybody should like everybody’
Andy Warhol

Is ‘Like’ a meaningless default emotional response?

Is ‘Like’ a meaningless default emotional response?

Or, is it that Facebook is simply trying to bring to life one of Andy Warhol’s philosophies…

‘During the 1960’s, I think, people forgot what emotions were supposed to be. And I don’t think they’ve ever remembered’ – The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

It appears that Facebook and marketeers worldwide would want us to believe that as individuals, companies or even international brands, the ultimate emotional response to elicit from any given item or event, is to simply ‘like’ it. In this ever-expanding age of social media, ‘sharing’ and ‘connecting’ seems to be the primary goal and buzz that companies and brands often aspired to, but is simply being liked by as many people as possible, sufficient an emotional response or interaction to aspire to?

is like the emotional response to aim for?

is like the emotional response to aim for?

‘It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.’
Andre Gide

The word ‘like’ to me, is at best bland, at worst, often wholly inappropriate in the social media context. At Passion 4, our ambition for any work or project we are involved with, is that people totally love it, rather than just simply like it. If our ambition was just for it to be liked, it would be setting our bar of ambition pretty low!

nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion

nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion

‘Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion’
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Having a passion for what you do is a vital driving force if you want what you do to avoid falling into the trap of bland mediocrity. Sir Jonathan Ive recently owned up to an Apple secret;

‘We absolutely don’t do focus groups. That’s designers and leaders abdicating responsibility. That’s them looking for an insurance policy, so if something goes wrong, they can say, well this focus group says that only 30% of people are offended by this and, look, 40% think it’s OK.’ All a focus group guarantees, is mediocrity’

Mediocrity is the enemy of creativity, it lacks ambition. It avoids taking risks, it fears failure rather than embracing the lessons it can bring. It adds unnecessary layers of complexity by trying to please everybody. Creativity however is refreshingly simple!

‘Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity’Charles Mingus

Thanks for taking the time out to read this, as always, it is much appreciated! Please feel free to share any thoughts or comments you might have on it…

Chris

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ask not what your economy can do for you…

With the ongoing news about failing economies, weakening currencies and economic uncertainty, it is good to know that there is still a currency that can be invested in that will give a great return on investment.

Not heard about it? Simple. Investing in creative ideas and design is always a good option.

A creative idea that is developed, nurtured and brought to life is a very special ‘currency’, one that can deliver both short and long-term benefits.

ask not – changing the world, one t-shirt slogan at a time!

ask not – changing the world, one t-shirt slogan at a time!

OK, so I’m no Robert Peston or Stephanie Flanders, or a learned journalist from the Financial Times or The Economist, so like most financial transactions, there is always small print, and as Tom Waits once said…

‘The large print giveth and the small print taketh away’

Strangely however, in such times of uncertainty, the natural instinct can often be to revert back to old ways of thinking, to cut back on creativity, to withdraw back to the known, to stay safe. So rather than investing in a ‘creative currency’; in new ways of thinking, new ways of approaching problems, things just stagnate and stay the same. As a counter to this approach,  Henry Ford (1863-1947), American founder of the Ford Motor Company once famously said…

‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.’

Apple once boldly proclaimed, now more than ever, we need to ‘think different‘ just like the Crazy ones…

At the time, Apple were floundering badly, yet they heavily invested in design and the creative process, with the outcome being the revolutionary launch of the first iMac, arguably the computer that helped change both their future as a company, as well as the computer landscape from that point onwards.

Rather than a creative austerity mentality, surely now is the best time to be crazy and invest more in creativity! So what are you going to invest your creative bank balance in?