28 March 2009


I was watching an interesting documentary about happiness and learning last night. It was called Who Do You Want Your Child To Be? and you can find it on iPlayer at the moment. There was a bit about how unstructured play helps you because it enables you to think more flexibly than if you are instructed. They showed children starting to solve basic problems having been given room to work things out for themselves. That was quite inspiring. Human beings are a million times more interesting than brands. But it did make me think about brands and how they are perceived to work. Sometimes, the people set up to make decisions about the brand aim to tightly control things from a central place. They make decisions about relatively few things, like key messages and graphic design and advertising, according to a pretty rigid set of rules. Sometimes, they don't have any concern for the experiential stuff; the lived bits where human beings touch the brand and reach a real decision about what it is and where it fits in their lives. That's a bit weird. I think that's how you as a consumer get to feel a fundamental disconnect between the comms and the product and/or service. Seems to me that the human stuff is where it's at for brands. That's the way to connect with people. Adding something useful to their lives, or giving them space to say something about themselves. And creating a feeling of community identity. So there's plenty of new frontiers for intelligent brand thinking...like customer service, product innovation, design and packaging, and other things which, um, I can't quite think of right now. Lots don't invest the same kind of time, budgets and talent into the human interaction side of their business as they do their advertising. Or if they do, the two aren't hooked up very well together. But if more forward-thinking brands aren't thinking about interaction design (in its broadest sense) in the next couple years, I'll be eating my hat. Or theirs. Or something. (Lovely pic courtesy of this person.)

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