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 |
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…


Media of mass distraction

With a seemingly constant and ever evolving stream of new emerging technologies, constant communication and multitasking are the de facto standard of our daily lives and modus operandi.

Today you can do more with less, run a multi-national business from the palm of your hands, work remotely, collaborate across continents, trawl a global repository of mankind’s collective learning whilst sitting on the beach, communicate instantly around the world, capture images, sounds or video whilst out and about as part of our everyday lives – we truly do live in an utterly amazing time in human history!

impossible just shows a lack of imagination

impossible just shows a lack of imagination

However, the class A drug that technology so often proves itself to be, can carry its own high price of addiction.

One evening as my family and I were all together watching a film on TV, I chanced to look around and see that as well as ‘watching’ the film, some were working on their laptop, some checking emails on their iPad, whilst others were texting and tweeting on their phones. So instead of simply engaging with a single source of entertainment, we were each multitasking and utilising different technology devices at the same time. We each had the ‘need’ to consume multiple media streams at the same time with an insatiable appetite that technology is only too ready to support.

I had to smile at my techno addicted family!

Technology is so often touted as the means to bring people together, but in many ways, it can end up separating us from the very essence of what it is to be human. To have and develop meaningful shared emotional resonance between individuals, bringing us together in different depths of relationship with each other.

Liking a status update and adding LOL does not quite have the same degree of connectivity, sometimes we may need to just stop, unplug and take a digital detox if we really want to share and connect with those around us!

Social media feeds like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc. all encourage us to record, capture and share moments of our lives with those we know (and often those we don’t!). So at numerous events ranging from concerts to funerals, people are all too readily capturing or annotating their experience of the event, ready to share with the world.

We have become obsessed with trying to capture the moment as opposed to actually really soaking up the fullness of the reality of the live experience. The irony is that in trying to record the experience, much of the time we become so engrossed and obsessed with the process of capturing this unforgettable event, that we actually miss the first hand, first person human experience of actually being there at that precise moment in time.

“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.”
Buckminster Fuller

Human beings have a multitude of built in senses that normally don’t need to be downloaded from an App Store and installed. Capturing it for prosperity is all well and good, but genuine, deeply felt experiences are best captured by the ‘technology’ that we already possess in the form of our human senses. Often the real physical experiences and memories are the ones that truly last a lifetime, everything else is merely fleeting digital detritus.

Where these senses are damaged or impaired, technology plays a very important role in helping to offer substitute solutions to aid peoples everyday experiences. However, some new technology now seeks to both mimic and improve upon the existing human ability to experience, comprehend and respond to external stimuli.

The advent of emerging technologies such as Google glass the technology looks to augment our normal physical reality and experiences with an interactive digital overlay. It is like being able to get an upgrade to Human 2.0! This is where the boundaries of technology and emotional experience blur. For some, the possibilities are limitless, for others, the implications could have a more scary sci-fi connotation as in cyborgs from Terminator or the Borg from Star Trek.

Don’t get me wrong, technology is great, but it’s no god that should be blindly worshiped!

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


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…


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6 degrees of separation – getting closer to the real deal…

Having a thorough understanding of a clients real requirements, is an essential requirement for producing creative design solutions that actually work for the client, rather than something that just looks good in your portfolio!

‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand.’ Albert Einstein

‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand.’ – Albert Einstein

‘Any fool can know. The point is to understand.’ – Albert Einstein

Attempting to understand the real requirements of a clients brief can be a tough process! Rarely do you get a fully detailed and exhaustive written brief. One that covers every single minutia of what is required, and at the moment the ability to mind read is unfortunately, something that still only exists in science fiction!

In the meantime, we are left with human discernment, experience, knowledge, research and our ability to generate mutually beneficial relationships based on trust with the people we are trying to understand and work with in a productive manner. So anything that can help gain or promote better understanding in this is a good thing, right?

Nowadays, part of the way in which we communicate with people includes a mix of different social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, specialist forums etc. These provide fantastic options to gain extra, off the record kind of insights into what interests people, businesses we admire, or on subjects/people we are just plain interested in or do work with. It can bring a real value added element to the communication process.

For us, business is essentially all about developing good, longer term, mutually beneficial relationships with clients, suppliers and people we are in contact with. To do this successfully, it goes beyond merely just the basics of being able to fulfil a transaction or service. Most companies should be able to do that, if not there are plenty of others that can!

People do business with people, and it is this personal relationship and level of understanding between individuals or organisations, that can often help make or break successful business relationships.

Social media can help people connect in a more immediate and strangely, a more personal way. It can also allow a more informal insight to the way people think, what lies behind the more formal public facade, what interests them or what generally makes them ‘tick’. Why could this be of interest? It gives a fuller, more rounded and engaging picture of someone who you may have never met before. It also, more importantly, opens up a much wider range of potential connection points with them.

This is the concept behind the principle of 6 degrees of separation (the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth).

Six Degrees of Separation by Dannie-Walker
Six Degrees of Separation by Dannie-Walker

Finding and establishing different connection points allows a much easier basis for communication, and we all know that communication is King!

From our experiences, we have found that establishing, maintaining and building relationships through the additional opportunities that social media can provide, has often helped us start, nurture and build relationships.

However, before becoming a digital hermit, nothing beats one of the oldest forms of social media, there is, Social Media v1, the time to catch-up for a real life tea, coffee or a pint of beer!

So if you want to find out a bit more about us and what ticks our various boxes, check out our various boards on Pinterest (Passion4Pins), see our various updates on Facebook or even follow us on Twitter (@Passon_4) – you might be surprised at what you see or read!