3 From a 5-Year-Old: Be transparent. Be original. Be balanced.
My five-year-old came home from kindergarten one day and said that he’d earned recognition for being principled. When I asked him what principled meant, he said, “It means you do the right thing even when no one is looking.”
That blew me away. And it reminded me that maybe we do learn everything we need to know in life in kindergarten, just like that book says. So I went back to Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten—and started evaluating my life and work on those simple principles.
When it comes to marketing communications, a few of those universal lessons especially apply. Here are three for today:
Today’s environment is built on sharing. In business, that may be by internal collaboration with team members who have different skill sets, thought leadership and idea gathering in your professional space, or communicating regularly and being fully transparent in your company’s approach to social media. We see more companies sharing proactively, personally and synergistically—from expertise that can set a brand apart in the marketplace, to ideas and human networking that can launch new products and services faster than ever before.
It’s no longer, and arguably never has been, advantageous to withhold information from the competition (except, of course, for those trade secrets). By nature we are a social culture. We like to share, to contribute, to be in the know. And businesses are learning that friendly, honest communication not only yields better ideas (and results) in the long run, but builds some good karma right here and now. So, when in doubt, share it.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Back in college (think: Art History), some of you might have learned this seemingly common, but nifty little word: appropriate. Basically, it means “to borrow” rather than to steal. I like this word, because no matter what space you are in—art, science, architecture, advertising—there is a level of respect involved with using an idea as a spark for something else. Masters of art, for example, pay respect to their predecessors, taking parts and pieces from what they feel worked and re-framing them in a new context, so you see something new—and often better.
Our sharing culture lends itself to appropriation—and easily exposes those who take a little too much. Our advice: If you need some inspiration, especially now that we have access to infinite digital information, take the best ideas out there and build from them, in your own industries, using your own new concepts, in a respectful way. We can all do that. And the more we practice, the more those initial sparks of ideas will light up from inside us.
Live a balanced life
First, and foremost, if anyone has figured out this balance thing on a personal level, please email us immediately with the panacea. The closest I’ve come to the holy grail of balance is this little mantra that seems to help in life and work: When in doubt, cut something out. Simplify.
Like life, when we balance play with performance it all becomes fun. However our industry gets a bum rap when it becomes too easy to get carried away with the artsy (fun) part. At Rezonant, our take is simple: It’s never art for art’s sake in marketing communications. We exist (for our clients) to communicate something very specific to help businesses position their brands and grow. And as such, we are only attached to our art form—ads, websites, collateral, signage, etc.—in that it exists to serve a tangible purpose. It’s always a balance: art with practicality.
And that’s only three lessons from Pre-K! Tell us about your favorites and how you apply them to what you do.