Examination

How analytical and interpretational skills are relevant to branding

The Blogfather reveals an unexpected poetical softer side, and how he uses it in the day job of working on brand identities.

The fear of receiving no ROI can make it hard for a business to put trust and faith in an agency, but if you have pain points, and the conditions to delegate, then an agency’s fresh set of eyes could elevate your business.

Not for the first time, a blog bursts forth from the reading of a Dave Trott pearler. In essence it talks about how the academic world is too focused on exams, and does not give you what you need for the real world.

It brought to mind a nice quote from a piece I recently read by David Mamet; “it's a tough world and practice will always trump theory (save in the universities).”

Here’s an extract from the blog:

“The academic world is about the world of passing exams.

Nothing wrong with that.

But it isn’t the same as the real world.

Every day I work in the real world of advertising.

So I know about real advertising. In the real world. To real people.

And I know the real problem.”

The real problem Dave talks of is that 89% of advertising does not work. This is something that we at Gasp talk about in our Six Common Fails To Avoid piece, and has become part of our ethos. The fear of receiving no ROI can make it hard for a business to put trust and faith in an agency, but if you have pain points, and the conditions to delegate, then an agency’s fresh set of eyes could elevate your business. That’s something we’ve certainly done.

Dave Trott’s blog talks of how the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath were unable to give their daughter good advice for the passing of an English Lit exam that featured their very own poems! This recalled to my mind a story I was told by my English teacher.

A poet was asked to sit a GCSE English Lit exam that featured one of his own poems. You’d think there would be no one better to give an in depth analysis of all the true meaning behind the prose. He got a C.

Those students who went on to get A*’s most likely drew out interpretations that the poet never intended. But it doesn’t matter. As long as the interpretation had imagination, was well thought out and was supported by the text it was fine.

Trott writes; “to compete in that world I need to be creative, and you can’t find that in textbooks and exams.”

Whilst agreeing that this is in large part true, I have a slightly different experience to this. On a couple of occasions I’ve had to write brand guidelines featuring a logo introduction/explanation. In one of the instances the client could not even recall the original reasons the founder of the business had for choosing the logo’s rather unique look and symbols. It had been lost to time.

So I had to retrospectively write a compelling and authentic meaning to the logo, which had to convince people that it was the essence of the brand’s origins. And it was here that my English Lit exam skills came to the fore, as I was doing nigh on the same thing: creating depth and hidden meaning in a layered interpretation. I went on to write some really strong brand guidelines/logo interpretations that our clients were very happy with. It’s more desirable to use these skills when we are working with a brand from their inception, but sometimes you have to adapt your skills for the desired result.

As Dave Trott says, the real world is “simply and purely about getting a result against massively overwhelming competition.” You’ve got to get in that distinct 11%. In pursuing this, the key is creating something genuinely different. But it’s a fine line between achieving authenticity and creating a brand identity that is too contrived.

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