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Thursday, November 30

Brands as Conversations

There is I guess a lot of literature on the importance of conversations in today's participative media! However, I generally find Indian advertising professionals lacking in this skill. Perhaps years of schooling in
one-way communication(top down, manufacturer to consumer) has led to a gradual attenuation of conversational skills!

So when I came across this brilliant book Fierce Conversations, by Susan Scott, thought must share some of the learnings!

Here they are in no particular order...

1. Remove the word but from your vocabulary and substitute the word and. Most people are shocked to discover how many times they use the word but during the course of a day.

Ad agencies are places with lots and lots of conversations. Endless cups of coffee, endless bouts of conversations. They are also the stuff that lead to maximum learning. Conversations - between creatives and planners, between clients and account handlers, between mainstream and 360, etc. Therefore replacing the buts with ands becomes quite significant.
Many a time I am not listening to others POV. Need to substitute more of my buts with ands...

2. We may succeed in hearing every word yet miss the message altogether.Often I find that in the hurriedly convened FGDs and meetings, we are more intent in hearing the words and often fail to listen to the underlying message...

3. Come into the conversation with empty hands. Bring nothing but yourself.
A fundamental rule which we so often forget!

4. Sometimes we put so many pillows around a message that the message gets lost forever.
In our bid to please the client, we put so many pillows, we end up not saying what we would want to. What is right for the brand/ client!

5. There are things our gut knows long before our intellect catches on.
However, in real life most times we try to force our intellect on our gut!

6. A careful conversation is a failed conversation.
Aren't all brand conversations carefully crafted. Are they largely failures? How many fierce conversations do you have in a month/ quarter/ year?
When was the last time? With whom?

7. Never mistake talking for conversations.
Are most brands just talking?
In love with their own voice...
Not bothering to hear what the consumer wants to say, wants to hear!
Have you noticed how most of the ad copy is full of stuff like - "We make your dreams come true", "We take you places", "We help you get faster, higher".
There are far fewer examples of "Lets make things better"

8. Do not begin your comments with "Truthfully..." or "Frankly..." or "Honestly..."
That sometimes gives the impression that you were not truthful, frank or honest before...
The same holds true everytime a brand says 'New Improved', 'Trust me', 'With you all the way'.

9. The conversation is not about the relationship. The conversation is the relationship!
Reminds me of the 'Reliance' bill reminders for payments which read - Dear Subscriber, please pay your bill on time to avoid disconnection. Your relationship is valuable to us. :-)

10. Companies and marriages derail because people don't say what they are really thinking.
Same is true of brands as well...

What role can a planner have in crafting conversations when he/she doesn't write the final copy? It's just words...and if the words and the tone don't match between the brief and the final copy...all the conversational nuances are lost...

Which brings me back to my favourite topic. The new partnership must be between the planner and the creative/ copywriter. It's not necessary. But this is an easier, more effective, more rewarding way(at least for the planner) to craft brand conversations.

There is a UK coffee brand(forget the name) that has a highly conversational tone and ethos! Let me dig its name...

Which/ who is the most conversational brand in India? MTV? Karan Johar? Blogger.com? Sony TV? Bigg Boss?...

Do write your own experiences with planning, crafting brand conversations. Can you call them conversations? Or are they still monologues? Largely...


pooR_Planner said...

Nick Barham told me this ...
"Ask Questions"
"Collect Stuff"
"Bring different things together"
"Do whatever interests you"
"Get out more"
"And make sure, 'Creatives keep it simple'"
...when me wrote to him saying, 'I want to become a planner.'

I carry a notebook (not the Matrix one) and so does my fellow writer, we share stuff each morning and make fun of each other. We converse on babes, beer, bank balances, bills, bands, brands, blokes, blogs, bollywood as a ritual every morning for an hour. Call it stress management, laughter therapy, anti-establishment conspiracy theory or whatever, we ensure we "keep talking."

Manish said...

thanks roop...hey i have a 'matrix notebook' :-) mail me a page out of your note book, or few pages...

tell me about a brand conversation... hey your logo research is very good...cheers