Free Coordinates…

For good communication…

  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 30th, 2016
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Long on wit…

Long on wit…

Tags: , ,

By way of an end of year gong, I’d like to tip my woolly hat to Hiscox whose sharp ads have consistently caught my eye these past few months. Ads like this one, snapped while waiting for the tube:

img_2539

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Long on wit and short on guff, their intelligent combinations of words and images are a great example of how staying true to your tone can not only attract attention but also build interest.

So here’s to you Hiscox. Keep up the good words.

  • Author:
  • Published: Nov 4th, 2016
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Private…

Private…

Tags: , ,

While wandering the magical Cass Sculpture Foundation, I noticed this notice:

private-home-crop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No high walls or barbed wire. No blunt “Private Property – Keep Out”.

Just a quiet statement: private home. Not property, not house, but home.

It’s a neat reminder of how just one word can make a world of difference.

  • Author:
  • Published: Jun 10th, 2016
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on The ing thing…

The ing thing…

Tags: , ,

In his regular column on the art of persuasion, Sam Leith explores a grammatical construction he calls the “marketing gerund” (AKA present participle): “‘Delivering quality first’ is a BBC Trust slogan. If it sounds like anodyne business-blurb, that may just be the temper of the times: that subjectless “-ing” form of slogan is ever more widely used… Why is it so popular? My hunch is that it is an elegant, if slightly cheesy, way of having your cake and eating it. It puts, right up front in your slogan, a strong and action-filled verb but it also makes it sound almost stative (describing a state of being rather than an action)…an ongoing thing.”

Like all the tools and rules of writing, the ing thing is neither good nor bad. It can be used more or less well and a lot of that comes down to context. But there’s no denying its neat power to free actions from the shackles of a set time and space and in so doing to give your communication a touch of the eternal.

  • Author:
  • Published: Feb 12th, 2016
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Hugs with lobby…

Hugs with lobby…

Tags: , ,

Put my postcode into what3words and out pop these three words: hugs.with.lobby

This poetic threesome rubs shoulders with other equally arresting triumvirates such as manual moon skills, tonic twig town, insist gold level. Although randomly generated, like astrologers’ predictions, they invite you to attach to them much meaning. This is a happy by-product of the core ambition of the business: to create the simplest way to communicate location by giving every 3m x 3m square of the planet its own unique trio of words. So for example, 10 Downing Street has slurs this shark for its three, while the White House has improving enjoy buddy. Read into those what you will.

According to What3Words, 75% of the world’s population has no address, but now we can all let everyone else know where we are no matter where in the world that is. A new take on triangulation employing our eminently lovable language – like all great breakthroughs, it’s both brilliantly simple and simply brilliant.

Applause all round.

 

  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 14th, 2015
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Connecting the dots…

Connecting the dots…

Tags: , ,

Hot on the heels of being bought up by Nikkei, the FT has seen the value of declaring its shared mission: “to translate information into knowledge with timely, accurate reporting and analysis around the clock from Beijing to Brussels, Tokyo to New York and London to Johannesburg. With our global networks, we connect the dots in an increasingly interconnected world.”

While lacking the fire and zing of “Without fear and without favour”, it is nevertheless a decent statement and underlines the value of making your purpose clear for all to see and react to. As Grant Thornton UK’s chief executive Sacha Romanovitch puts it, “a strong sense of purpose helps a venture thrive.” It gives people a shared cause to rally around, a big why to spur them on, a point of guidance for day-to-day decisions and actions.

So a strong purpose is both glue and fuel – a potent mix for any organisation or endeavour.

 

  • Author:
  • Published: Sep 29th, 2015
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Human traffic signs…

Human traffic signs…

Tags: ,

To the launch of the D&AD 2015 Annual and on the big screen at the event the Human Traffic Signs campaign caught my eye – not least because it gave another take on the power of emotional communication to encourage road safety.

Every three minutes someone is injured by a traffic accident in China. One in ten die. To help fight this, the campaign revolves around a simple and arresting idea: to use real accident victims to underline the dangers. To this end, we see them holding up traffic signs at the spots where their accidents actually happened.

Commissioned by Shanghai General Motors; created by Lowe China; deserved winner of a D&AD White Pencil for work that excels in effecting real and positive change in the world through creative thinking.

  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 26th, 2015
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Nobody likes a tailgater…

Nobody likes a tailgater…

Tags: , , , , ,

Driving back to London along the M1 after a wonderful week in Wales climbing mountains, canoeing lakes and chomping chips, we slowed down along a sustained stretch of 50mph roadworks.

Nothing new there for anyone familiar with the UK’s motorway network, except for the unusually characterful traffic signs. Gone were the standard blunt and bland commands to keep your speed down. In their place, conversational messages: “Nobody likes a tailgater”, “Let’s all get home safely”, “Our Dad works here”…

With their refreshingly friendly tone, they certainly caught the eye and according to a Highways England spokesman have been developed with the help of psychologists “to improve the customer experience through roadworks”. I’m not sure it’s about improving the customer experience so much as making safety messages clearer and more compelling. On that score, the ones I saw worked well. Nobody does like a tailgater, for example – not even the tailgater themselves, when they stop and think about how dumb and dangerous they have been.

But then came a message that stood out by virtue of its worrying ambiguity: “You may not always see us”. Did it mean that the road workers were not always there? We know that already – how many times have you driven along a stretch of motorway roadworks with not a worker in sight! Or did it mean that we were not allowed always to see the road workers? A rather rude mind-your-own-business message. Or did it mean that sometimes the road workers were difficult to see. Yes, but that in turn raised another question: Why aren’t road workers more visible? Worse, this sign was on the central reservation, rather than on the left by the hard shoulder – the natural home for such signs. It was all rather distracting and disconcerting – the last thing you want when driving along a motorway – and made me hanker for a much simpler old-style “drive carefully”.

So, when revamping motorway messages or indeed any other communication, it always pays to pay attention to keeping clarity while adding character.

  • Author:
  • Published: Jun 8th, 2015
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on The littlest words…

The littlest words…

Tags: , ,

Off to the annual poetry fest at my daughter’s school, where Paul the poet urges us all to strive to “say the biggest things with the littlest words”.

This doesn’t simply mean keeping your communication short, but rather as long as it needs to be – and no longer. The poetic art of compression can lead to some pretty lengthy pieces, such as Claudia Rankine’s 160-page Citizen, which has just been shortlisted for the Forward prize.

From the three lines of a haiku to the 100 cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy, great poetry squeezes as much as possible into the space it occupies. That’s one of the ways it packs such a punch.

  • Author:
  • Published: Mar 6th, 2015
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on Earthy eloquence…

Earthy eloquence…

Tags: , , , ,

“Lincoln’s great skill was to speak simply. He searched for language that was spare, colourful and accessible to all,” says Martin Kettle in an article on the great orator of Gettysburg.

“He liked it dry, clear and cogent, but he liked colloquialism too. As Harriet Beecher Stowe put it, Lincoln’s language always had the “relish and smack of the soil”. An aide tried to get him to withdraw the phrase “sugar-coated” from a speech once, on the grounds it was undignified. Lincoln would have none of it. He was also a great pruner: the Gettysburg address, perhaps the best-known political speech in English of all time, is less than 300 words long and took as little as three minutes to deliver.”

Earthy eloquence at a hundred words per minute – we could do a lot worse than aim for this in all our communication.

  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 5th, 2014
  • Category: Uncategorized
  • Comments: Comments Off on An aromatic and delicious spirit…

An aromatic and delicious spirit…

Tags: , , ,

Just as being clear doesn’t necessarily mean being concise, so being compressed doesn’t mean being characterless. On the contrary, in communication as in cognac, distilling down to the essence creates something more intense and memorable.

Carmen Herrera admires Ben Nicholson’s ability to “reduce pictorial forms and ideas to their very essence…He was never austere, dry, or rigid. A true distiller always leaves an aromatic and delicious spirit.”

Many moons ago I had the pleasure of learning a little bit about the art of making cognac while working on a project for Martell. The key is double-distillation and it’s no bad thing for writers everywhere to take inspiration from this process: edit, and edit again. Till your writing has the pure impact of this painting by Mr Nicholson:

June 1937 (painting) 1937 by Ben Nicholson OM 1894-1982

 

 

© 2011 Free Coordinates…. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by Wordpress and Magatheme by Bryan Helmig.