Copywrighting & Creative Communications

Ideas that lock in lasting connections

Seasons greetings!

Category : Christmas! · No Comments · by Dec 23rd, 2020
Seasons greetings!

Merry Christmas…!!

You’re going to need a better story

You’re going to need a better story

It’s never been more important to have a professional help you craft compelling stories that set you & your operation apart in the marketplace…

Nike ad’s shout out to the London Massif

Category : Advertising, Branding · No Comments · by Feb 9th, 2018

As a Londoner myself, appreciating the shout out from Nike for me & my hometown breddren…


My first voice over…

Category : Branding · No Comments · by Feb 24th, 2017

My good friends at Poulsen Selleck brought me in to help with their client’s internal brand values video, who was looking for a “warm, deep & friendly voice”. Still very humbled to have made the cut…


Examine the world of design from all angles

Category : Creativity, Design, Learning & Development · No Comments · by Feb 2nd, 2017

If you’re not a Netflix subscriber, promise me you’ll at least consider taking out a free trial for Feb 10th when this is released…

“There’s no creativity without vulnerability…”

Category : Creativity, Learning & Development · No Comments · by Apr 24th, 2014

This has to be compulsory viewing for every creative on the planet. In fact, if you haven’t done any work you’re super proud of in a while, this chat may even save your career. I’m not exaggerating.

After cosmic success following her TED talk, research professor Dr Brené Brown’s star shows no sign of fading following yet more paradigm-shifting thought-leadership. Watch this for several stellar insights on some of the reasons why we creatives are tempted to play safe in our work and how to fix that.

And if you paddle in a pond seemingly well outside of art, media, film, design, music, etc. this chinwag doesn’t let you off the hook, either. Keep an ear out for the reasons later on why our common definition of creativity is so woefully limiting and deficient – and may even unwittingly be poisoning your work and relationships…

Breaking news: the Hut Group sells cr*p…

Category : Direct Mail · No Comments · by Feb 27th, 2014
Breaking news: the Hut Group sells cr*p…

Just got this e-mail. We all make mistakes. But here’s hoping your proof-reading doesn’t stink quite this much. Such a…

Furious folk of Suffolk don’t like Curious

Category : Branding · No Comments · by May 20th, 2013

A firestorm of protest blew up over Suffolk County Council’s attempts to encourage tourism by branding its county as ‘curious’ and is an intriguing case study on the need to forge brands that tickle key stakeholders’ egos…

Silly Suffolk. Sleepy Suffolk. Hard associations to shake. Probably matters far more to locals than anyone else.

But now a tourism campaign to label Suffolk as ‘Curious’ has got underway. And the locals are restless.

The efforts of the Ipswich agency Condiment (who came up with the idea) shouldn’t be dismissed entirely on the premise it has the potential for misinterpretation. Attempts to stand out in a multimedia landscape increasingly saturated with branding, messaging and marcomms is extremely challenging. So designers are now deliberately producing discordant brand expressions in an attempt to get their clients some quieter air amidst the clamour. And as we’ve seen with London 2012, a dissonant brand signifier doesn’t necessarily detract from a successful brand experience.

But ‘Curious Suffolk’ does beg the question, when does a brand cross the line between being unique and irritating?

The hullabaloo that kicked off around this suggests that the messaging isn’t connecting with key stakeholders – namely Suffolk residents. But worst yet, not only isn’t it connecting, it’s provoking a negative response.

The organisers of London 2012 didn’t flinch in the face of widespread criticism of their efforts. Complaints that there was nothing of London in its essence in the logo still reverberate.

And that’s the heart of branding right there. Capturing the soul of a subject in its brand expression – whether it’s a logo, logotype or a strap line – is the holy grail of branding.

The alternative is to create brand stories that live beyond the creative expressions of a brand so that people bring their associations with them to the iconography and messaging. For example, when was the last time you looked closely at the M&S or the Apple logo? You can’t remember, right? That’s because you don’t need to. These iconic brands carry meaning and associations – positive and negative – that are no longer driven entirely by their logos and strap lines – which have become merely brand custodians instead of brand champions because such brands in their own right are so strong.

So we really should suspend judgment on the ‘Curious Suffolk’ line until we see how the somewhat Python-esque creative lends meaning and definition to the messaging.

But this perception of Suffolk’s strength as a brand probably goes some way to explaining why feelings are running so strong against ‘Curious Suffolk’. Suffolk is a delightful if not beautiful place to live and work. But compared to other parts of the world, it’s very much touched but not entirely blessed with overwhelming swathes of charisma, glamour, arts or high octane excitement.

So, regardless of its charm, peacefulness, or its host of other genteel qualities, Suffolk residents are tempted to make comparisons with other tourist hotspots and end up believing that the Suffolk brand isn’t that strong. And therefore the assumption is that a brand with ‘some work to do to grab attention’ needs to work a lot harder than being seen to be ‘curious’.

Because ‘curious’ doesn’t appeal enough to the ego, does it – and pride is one of the main planks behind all successful branding (“do I warm to the signifiers that rub off on me by my association with this brand…?”)

It’d be fascinating to know if the team at Condiment are Suffolk folk born and bred and whether this has any bearing on their work.

We may never know. But what we do know is that Suffolk residents aren’t too keen on being seen as silly or odd any more.

Futureshock: The Connected Consumer bites back

Category : Social Media · No Comments · by Nov 25th, 2011

PacMan-ConsumerOver how many years would you say that the corporate trend towards automation has put pressure on the workforce? 20, 30 years? Traditionally, automation has meant as far as possible eliminating people from work, leaving the tickly frisson of shiny-new technology tempered with sinister undertones.

And so the ‘them-and-us’ culture became even more entrenched (’twas ever thus, eh?!). Decision makers are seen as the power brokers – and the enemy. Leaving the rest of us flapping around in various states of victim-hood, spitting bile and invective against government, industry, foreigners, terrorists, imports, call-centres – anything and everything we can’t control…

Culturally, we see this played out in all kinds of ways. But for capitalism, this has given rise to consumers who largely play the profit-chasing game with a growing whiff of suspicion, wariness – or even resignation. It’s not safe to trust ‘them’, says the little voice at the back of our heads, with its fuggy, persuasive tone (a view happily reinforced by our peers and an increasingly malignant media).

But now a new global phenomenon – the Connected Consumer – is shaping up to be a real game-changer! Why? Because the proletariat has found its voice. Or rather, found profoundly powerful ways of getting its voice heard.

As any politician will tell you, ideas are powerful, but getting ideas to spread is where the real power lies. And never have the masses had so much opportunity to broadcast their opinions. Subsequently, power is shifting from traditional power brokers to the consumer. And it’s getting messy out there…

Social media has been lauded in some quarters with playing a key role in the Arab Spring. Brands are becoming infamous for getting a bloody nose from their audiences on-line. With more and more people grabbing the chance to snatch their 15 minutes of fame, or simply having fun splashing about making noise on-line, social media penetration shows no sign of abating.

This genie is not only out of the bottle and not going back in, it’s granting everyone it can get its hands on three powerful wishes (unbelievable just a few years ago): an always on soapbox, incredibly accessible, with truly global reach.

Technology, once the power-brokers’ profit-pumping pimp, is now the soapbox-pumping muse of the masses.

What this of course means is that the connected individual is going to matter far more than they have before now. Because slowly and surely, they will be demanding more value from the brands, institutions and personalities they care about and engage with, as they begin to appropriate their power to make choices on their own terms.

And creative communications, more than ever before, will be about managing those heady, temperamental,  precarious relationships.

Traditional marketing values such as integrity, authenticity and trust will still be as relevant and as powerful as they’ve ever been towards establishing differentiation. But the new game will be played across social media platforms in cliques (what Seth Godin calls tribes) – as the Connected Consumer gets to pick which clique they subscribe to faster than ever before, making richer connections faster than ever before.

With this, brand custodians – stewarding the management discipline of orchestrating unique, accessible, recognisable, value-packed patterns – face an amazing opportunity or a suffocating threat: the chance to make marks/marques that spread like wildfire, or the stress of living in fear of getting it horribly wrong and the world finding out about it in the time it takes to write a tweet…

But is it both/and, or either/or…?