"Logic is not as powerful as intuition."
Here at Slow Burn Marketing, we love good advertising. Classic advertising. Advertising that enters the zeitgeist. Advertising that goes down in history. Advertising that sells, but does more than be salesy.
That kind of advertising often defies logic and is born of intuition. Some of the most potent advertising it's been our pleasure to create has defied logic and generated huge ROI--sometimes in the face of powerful people saying it would fail because it wasn't logical. ROI is the bets revenge. [Insert winky emoji here.]
"There are three responses to a piece of design: Yes, No and Wow! Wow is the one to aim for."
Last week, the world lost an advertising and marketing great. Milton Glaser, the legendary graphic designer, died of stroke and renal failure on his 91st birthday. Mr. Glaser's most enduring work is probably the "I Love NY" graphic. He admitted that even he was surprised at its durability over the decades. He had sketched it in a taxi cab and given it to the State of New York as a gift the survives to this day.
One of Mr. Glaser's more "Wow" pieces would be the famous 1966 poster for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits. Six million copies of that poster were distributed. It sells as a collectible for hundreds of dollars. And to hear Mr. Glaser himself discuss it decades later, he can be critical of his own work.
Less famous but arguably more "Wow" is Glaser's poster for The School of Visual Arts. It was designed to coincide with the United Nations World Summit on Poverty in 2005. It shows an image of a black hand bearing fingers the colors of the five races. Advertising Age said that the poster "expresses the need for empathy and a change of consciousness to deal with the overwhelming problem of political and social indifference to poverty."
In the same article, Glaser said, "For all of us in the communication business, the thought that another generation would look back at us and say, 'How could they have been so indifferent and callous to human suffering?' drove me to respond."
Is it any surprise that another of one Glaser's personal favorite quotes is, "Tell the truth."
"You can only work for people who you like."
We've all experienced trying to work for people we don't like. When I was working as a Creative Director in radio, there were times when a client was just unlikeable. Those clients rarely enjoyed the fruits of good work or good results. And sometimes, a client just has to be fired.
The faithful reader to the Weekly Screed knows that Honey Parker and I made a significant change in our own business the day we decided that we would only ever work for people with whom we'd look forward to having dinner. We get to do good work for people we like. It's better than paying the bills. It's fun. And you sleep well.
"We are all born with genius. It's like our fairy godmother. But what happens in life is that we stop listening to our inner voices, and we no longer have access to this extraordinary ability to create poetry."
We all live and work in an enormous sandbox--and often don't know what to do with it. Creativity is normal. It is also hammered out of people by The System. Whatever it is you do, you've seen it in your line of work. You probably aren't a victim of it yourself. If you were, you probably wouldn't be reading this. But you've seen it around you.
Honey Parker and I have spoken to huge audiences about branding for small business. Our work is so obviously the result of play. We play on the stage. We make people laugh. We show how brand changes businesses and lives. And afterwards, someone from the audience will come to us and say, "That was great! But really, branding's not for my business, is it." [Face palm.]
Hunt down that inner voice and let 'er rip.
"We were excited by the very idea that we could use anything in the visual history of humankind as influence..."
When Milton Glaser started working professionally in the 1950s, he had been soaking up art influences from across Europe. When he returned to New York and began working for The Man, there was nothing about him that fit in a pigeonhole. Anything visual was an influence and informed his work as he saw fit. As the New York Times said in his obituary last week, "Mr. Glaser brought wit, whimsy, narrative and skilled drawing to commercial art."
Forget the "commercial art" part of that thought. Hone in on the wit. The whimsy. The narrative. The skill. Those things are in short supply. You're either in advertising or using advertising. Or both. You're allowed to access wit, whimsy, narrative and skill, whether your own or that you borrow from others. Feel free to bang the drum for them a little more. Feel free to use them when following Mr. Glaser's directive to "Tell the truth."
And while you're at it, you might enjoy banging the drum for intuition and how we're all African. And if you're drinking your morning coffee right now, join us in a toast to the late, great, modest Milton Glaser. His legacy represents marketing at its best--transcending offer and call to action to raise the bar for art and humanity, wit and whimsy.
If you'd like to see more of Mr. Glaser's portfolio, click here
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
DO YOU REALLY HAVE ANY IDEA?
Do your employees?
Or your business partner?
You might be shocked and surprised, perhaps unpleasantly.
Earlier this year, the Fabulous Honey Parker and I announced a new project called CoupleCo.
This is a project by and about couple entrepreneurs--why they do it, why they love it, and how they keep a business going without killing each other.
CoupleCo is one reason we're out here on the road, crossing this great nation of ours in the Slow Burn Marketing Brand Response Unit. Besides visiting clients, we've been conducting interviews for CoupleCo.
Recently, we interviewed a couple who have been running a business together for about 8 years.
These are not kids. They are fully formed, middle-age adults who've been around and had successful careers of their own independent of each other.
TOGETHER, THEY HAVE BUILT A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
They are exactly the kind of people we like to interview.
In wrapping up an interview, we ask the subjects a series of quick questions about each other.
With this particular couple, the exchange went something like this.
"OK, Bill. What is Jill's best quality?"
He says, "She has leaned to do this and such much better with more patience and insight, and she has become more thoughtful about the process."
She says, "You have no idea what you're talking about."
She then rebutted his entire answer.
Clearly, she was right.
He had an entire set of assumptions about something she was doing in the business, and he was dead wrong.
LET THIS BE A LESSON ABOUT ASSUMPTIONS
They are no substitute for actual communication.
And actual communication is something that is frequently lacking inside of a small business--and can bite a brand in the butt, Bob.
Often, the lack of communication is basic.
A simple and common example: The receptionist says to the business owner, "I don't know what's going on, but the phone is suddenly ringing off the hook."
Business owner: "Oh! I forgot to tell you! We're running a new ad in the paper!"
And don't think this is uncommon. I can't count the number of times something like this happened when I worked in radio.
You spend a couple of weeks working with a client who's spending a few thousand to put together a radio promotion.
The radio commercial finally hits the air.
And you find out the business owner never bothered to communicate the promotion to the staff.
DON'T THINK THIS IS NECESSARILY SMALL IN SCOPE, EITHER
We've seen the person in charge not bother to communicate a new brand to the staff.
You know what happens then?
People who've been working under the old brand for years and loving it (even if the brand fits like a bad suit) become uncooperative and pissy.
They refuse to join the business in its brand evolution.
And eventually, the brand withers.
Conversely, we've seen a good explanation of a new brand to the team do astonishing things.
A workforce that was already doing a good and competent job suddenly becomes energized and ready to do things that are even bigger and better.
THE TROOPS BECOME GALVANIZED!
A good brand makes them rally around their leader and prepare to go forth and crush the competition!
But that works only if there's actual communication.
There is no substitute for having a message and being clear.
Communicating the brand and the advertising--the strategy and the tactics--is an essential step.
Imagine that commerce is a battlefield.
The brand's army is assembled there, ready to fight.
And the general standing before them suddenly looks at his cell phone, and wanders off to take a call from his wife.
And never comes back.
WHAT ARE THE TROOPS TO DO?
That's a lot of guys all dressed up, armed to the teeth, and scratching their asses.
That's an expensive proposition--and one that's destined to fail.
Without a mission and orders, those troops are going wherever they feel like--and that doesn't mean they're going to accomplish anything of value.
They need communication.
We've seen something as simple as a re-branding with clarity and purpose give the business owner a tool with which to marshal the troops, inspire them, and give them purpose in a business that was once muddled and without obvious direction.
But if clarity of communication is lacking?
THAT ENTIRE REBRANDING EFFORT WOULD BE POINTLESS
It would be a waste of time and money.
And who has enough of either?
At its most basic, communication keeps everyone on the same page with a clear of idea of mission and goals.
The receptionist doesn't wonder why the phone is suddenly ringing.
The salespeople don't look like idiots when a customer says he wants the offer from the radio.
And your wife doesn't look at you during a recorded interview and say, "You have no idea what you're talking about."
Talk to each other. It's more profitable.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.