The first day at Cannes featured more fedora, panama and porkpie knock-offs than the Lions waiting to be won. The only thing that surpassed the sudden fashion was happening inside the crowded Palais auditoriums. Seminars, forums flaunting big names and even better subjects attracted long queues.
In no particular order, here are a few things that stood out from the first set of talks that those in the business of brands may want to take to work.
It’s Moneyball time
Digital platforms are creating a new breed of creatives, thinkers, artists and storytellers who respond, reward or reject in real time. And it costs nothing to them but a lot to the brands that are not picking the new rules. Today, brands are built more by exchange of stories over any real exchange of money, a new brand of barter economy, so to say. That’s Moneyball, challenging traditional approaches of building brands. The shiny new toys in the virtual world are making it all happen, driving efficiencies in the physical world.
Digital experiences are making people ‘want’ to have that similar experience in the real world. That makes business sense. Direct correlation between action and monetisation exists though depending on the context. For example, access to art through digital platforms are actually fueling interest of a whole new audience set in art, driving up footfalls for museums, exhibitions and art sale revenues.
Beware of what people think they think!
Business leaders and brand custodians often make critical decisions based on ‘rationality’. A neuroscientist who advises police forces, forensic experts and fighter pilots shared interesting perspectives on the subject of creativity and decision making. He says that brands often fail because they drive literal explicit messages through creativity.
People, when quizzed and questioned, rationalise their choices, so we go about passing information about our brands to help make choices and wait for results that never hit home. Sorry, the brain does not pick up stuff simply because information is presented. It is not impressed with ‘sameness’ but rather by quirks, uniqueness, imperfections and distinctiveness. In essence, the brain loves ‘eachness’.
So next time you hear what people say about what they think they think, beware and save yourself from a wild goose chase. It does not matter that people say they are affected by facts. What matters for brands is that which actually affects behaviour. And that resides not in messages but in making memories and in the art of story-telling.
Colour, colour! What colour do you choose?
We’ve heard a lot about colours as much as we see them. We know that colour needs light to be seen. What, however, is relevant to us is that though colours have duality and multiplicity in what they stand for, they work differently when given a context. Why is that important?
As much as 83% of all our perceptions come from visual stimulus, of which 50% is influenced by colour. Surveys around the world report that 80-90% of consumer decisions are influenced directly or indirectly by colours. Brands can not afford to be color blind! The next time we go about doing consumer segmentations or market mappings or media evaluations or any other, pause a bit and give colour a chance too. The experts say that colour is a story that evokes emotions. And colour is a sense like sound or smell. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Access makes everyone special. Does that mean no one is special?
Let’s take the example of technology democratisation that is pushing skill boundaries. Cameras didn’t make photographers but mobiles did. While everyone today is a photographer armed with a phone, tech filters and platforms to flaunt, it has not killed the professional lensman, but rather has made appreciation for photography much bigger, helping the industry and the tripod tribe.
Simply put, access does not diminish the importance of skill. Rather it pushes good to great. And yes, special exists and we should seek it!
All creative is combinatorial
A session titled ‘Beyond Sound—The Music Experience’ showcased exciting new convergence technologies bringing together sound, art and data towards an amazing music experience. One of the speakers, a musician, spoke about how album sale metric is an inadequate measure of success that leaves out artists’ connection with the audience. One could take this as a pointer to evaluate how we measure brand success with dated metrics. The real point is that all creative is combinatorial. Words come together for poetry and notes come together for music. In essence, it highlights that creative brand solutions is a collaboration of skills, technologies, data, insights and much more than rather a mere function. True understanding of this point should surely help all of us grappling with the idea of integration.
Discomfort, discontent leads to disruption
What happens when you are in the same room with the person who developed ‘fundawear’, a vibrating underwear for long distance couples, and a creative director of the museum of sex! These women had us enthralled as they spoke about what they are doing with sensory content and helping people ‘feel’ experiences.
What they really left us with were two important lessons. One on creativity and the other on life. Creativity is a muscle that needs working on just like body muscles. They need to be pushed, challenged and broken before they can be built. And that’s an area we fear entering. We cannot afford to stay content and comfortable if we are looking to disrupt. These young inspiring women have reached here by facing fear and embarrassment head-on. Staying vulnerable, real and afraid in doing what they do, has given them a lot more power than staying safe and disconnected. A life lesson that’s hard to ignore. In the end, the importance of breaking perceived reality to change behaviour by helping people ‘feel’ is a disruptive thought not lost on us.
The author is executive vice president – integrated strategy planning, Leo Burnett