So, to part II and checking back on the materials & logo, the conference was definitely about "Spark"... Inspiring ourselves into sparking greater success for our brands. Something like that.
But interestingly I think I only saw one person touch on what "Inspiration" was. (Hence part I below).
So here's to Nick Barham, not just for inspiring me with his talk about China and its new (perhaps most effective ever?) revolution, but for offering us this:
You + New = Inspiration.
(or to quote accurately I think he said : u + n = i)
I like this not so much for the planner truism of experiencing new and different things to find insight - though this is of course good to be reminded of. What I like it for is as a simple, easy challenge for our brands.
Assume for this purpose that You is the brand (the company, equities, consumers etc) Find something that is true about that. Add to the mix a New way of looking at it... and Bingo! Inspired creative and inspired people buying the brand....
Easy! And obvious, right?
Well judging by the work on 90% of brands out there I'd contest most brands somehow forget one or other of the inputs. They either have an all too well established truth about the You which they metaphor to death rather predictably. Or they simply challenge conventions and go overboard on New while forgetting the truthful part. This, by the way is an eternal danger of badly handled semiotics - or, as I believe it's now copyrighted, "disruption theory" ;o)
So to Dr. Bob (who was fine going over time if you ask me) who elegantly set up the reason why I think that although this you+new things is simple, it is really, really important. He said something to the effect that brands should give a structural framework to peoples worlds. Create recognition, where you give voice to who and what people feel, and know they are. (Brand stories that play into self stories.)
That's remarkable because it implies both that they know who they are, yet don't have the expression, or voice, for it.
Or for my purposes here I'll project - That a brand can inspire if it takes something people will recognize to be true, but can't currently express...if it creates meaning in a new way that people can reframe the world with, based on an inherent truth.
So I'd like to adapt Nick's equation a little to:
The new is central, but it's the you, the us, the them... something in the brand, or the people using it, or the world around it that is what gives it the power and scale.
New is cool, but its something interesting about the people or the brand that makes something great or not. Yey! It's planning 101 all over again! And even better it's for us all! - To steal again from Dr. Bob again:
99% of people are really interesting, and the other 1% are interesting beacause of that.
So bring on the CPG and pharma revolution! They can't all be as boring as they are coming across right now. Right??