Monday, 6 August 2007

Long Play

Late in the afternoon last week for no apparent reason the phone started ringing off the hook with work things. So I dragged my sorry rear into the West End mainly to get off my well honed reclining-position as earlier I'd been sucked into responding to Robs post to cover my partially exposed butt on brand values. Frankly I was close to bailing out Stateside for an overdue meetup, but a combination of a delayed reply that I've been waiting on, filed in 'the dog ate my emails' folder, and a sudden offer to get stuck into some charity rebranding tipped me over to taking on a gig on that meant a 4am start the next day up in Glasgow doing groups. These included in the afternoon, some young men who don't necessarily think too much about being electronically tagged while keeping a curfew - yeah Punk Planning my friends.

So far its been an exhausting but eyeopening experience and since the kickoff I've also covered Cardiff, a small mining village in the county borough of Caerphilly as well as Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham and Gloucester today. I should wrap up in a few days time but until then I've started to ask myself if the idea of an open source C.I development methodology might be an effective way to meet the objectives of keeping a very disparate bunch of people that range from local government, charity workers and young folk in need of a helping hand onboard and 'buying into' a process which one guy memorably articulated as 'reeking of insincerity' when referring to the the way 'brand' talks.

Here's the deal; most of the people that I've spoken to are really sceptical of anything that relates to marketing and the reason for that is they actually do stuff rather than waffle on about it like a lot of us ad tossers do. Its also increasingly evident that as with any change management a shiny new badge can be a reasonably useful point to coalesce around for a new direction. The reality is that unlike that rare and mythical beast called a proper brand (people getting mugged for Levis in 80's Moscow and ditto for iPods in the 3rd millennium) they probably will never be more famous than say top of mind prompted-recall within a specific charity segment, even if as I have discovered time and again since last Thursday they are off-the-richter-scale for complexity in stakeholders and financial solutions. Not to mention diversity of projects and doing a lot of hands on work.

I'm probing some architecture, platform and proposition dimensions that are not far removed from interrogation of (deep breath) third party projection of the meaning-of-meaning for say deprived young'uns with low attention spans - you get my drift? OK I'm exaggerating a tad, but that whole brand personality malarkey isn't moving mountains for me if people have to think about it. I mean personality is surely something people can spontaneously remark on and unwittingly have, acquire and possibly nurture. Surely its not something that can be scored from the nearest council estate corner gathering, and falls neatly between say a "chav" brand and one that "tells you what to do" as one group earlier today outlined when discussing those "Just do it" people. I guess I'm taking shots at some of the FMCG navel-gazing research gigs I've had to oversea in my time. But there is some overlap with whats going on here.

So in the interests of suggesting a kick-ass methodology for a participatory media process that embraces uncertainty and welcomes the digitalocracy of the web I thought I'd run the idea past you folk in case anyone else has thought about the idea of opening up the development of identity architecture real-time on the web. The immediate pluses for this method are that everyone gets a say and feels that they have been part of the consultation process, one or two egos/agendas don't hijack the process as invariably happens when settling on a least contentious communication platforms. Any thoughts? Is this taking 2.0 a bit far? Could it all go peaches up or as I really suspect, the P.R from the process could be worth considerably more than a years communication budget, given that nobody has ever done it before and that somebody will surely be extremely upset about the loss of control - which is a good thing in my book.

Other than that there are a quite a few other things kicking off and I'll leave you with the best post for ages. If any of you wannabes want to know what planning is about then check out this slice of action that absorbs people of our stargazing ilk who can't ever help stop thinking - albeit in my case pretty uselessly. It also gives me a chance to use that picture of ChinaD0II that has been lurking on my desktop before I dig out some of the great podcasts I'm still gagging to tip y'all off about.


  1. Hi Charles,
    Nice to meet you. It's an interesting point of view you put forth here.

    I'm trying to understand the point you're making. It seems you're saying that to teach folks who don't know where to begin is a bad thing. I find that ounterintuitive. Am I misunderstanding your reference? I'm truly curious.

    Thanks in advance for your response.


  2. Hi Liz. I'm categorically not saying that. I'm saying use the net, allow everyone to participate in the construction of a logo and a line, embrace the unusual and avoid the sterile and unsatisfactory.

  3. I love this post and I love what you're doing and how proud you are that you're working with people who do, not say ... infact, if you hadn't slipped into the odd bit of 'marketing speak' [ :) ] this could be the best post I've read in ages AND THAT INCLUDES CHROMA's!

    Speak soon matey ... can't wait to see where this goes ...

  4. great post charles! real-time, collaborative action. it's about time to try that out on the web :)

  5. Thanks Rob & Dino. I had a meet about this today and the idea wasn't rejected so I've got a few more groups to do and then I'm going to really think it through. I'll be y'all posted.

    Sorry about the marketing speak Rob, must remember to keep it simple next time ;)

  6. Hi Charles!
    I'm with you on your point of view 100%. I did love this post after all.

    Personally I have trouble walking in a straight line myself. On the other hand, I see the value of letting folks know what makes elegant before I let them loose rewriting the net. :)

  7. I'm glad we understand eachother ME :)

  8. Hi Charles. Great post. I think there's huge value in giving this a go - strikes me that the kind of things we waffle on about (authenticity, true co-creation, users genuinely feeling part of the process) matter more than ever with it. The simple things are often the most difficult to get right. But if it is done right, boy, that's powerful.

  9. Thanks for the support Neil. We certainly do talk a good game in advertising about authenticity and this is a chance to do it right.

  10. Hey Charles,

    I'm very intrigued by the idea of opening up the creation/messaging/identity process.

    I'm interested because I don't think it will magically create a better world (see: I read your greatest post ever, link. grin.) What it will do is expose new opportunities and help us all move into this world of co-creation with a bit more ammo/knowledge/questions.

    So identifying the processes, challenges and benefits will be of immense value to society and everyone involved. Even if it ends up not being labeled a "success".

    Count me in to assist in any way I can.

  11. Thanks Sean. I'm really feel that its not a wild card idea when four top strategic thinkers around the world including yourself feel have dropped by for support. I'll be letting you know as soon as anything changes. Thanks man.