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» Polyphony from brand new
Over on Russell Davies' blog he again generously shares with us some great thinking about brands. His thoughts on polyphony are a smart way to think about brands and their communication. It also I think is an interesting way to [Read More]

» Gain Notes - Day 1, Afternoon from The Adnostic
Todd DeGarmo (Studios) and Lauren Eckhart Smith (IAC) - Challenging Design Convention at IAC/InterActiveCorp's New Headquarters - Completely useless. No notes or insight. Fritz Doody (Elias) and Neil Franus (Sun Microsystems) - Audio Branding: Boosting... [Read More]

Comments

Russell, i definitely think you're on to something and it feels a better metpahor than dimensionality. It's also I think a good way to explain why integration as it tends to be defined - make it look the same across all channels - is wrong. The brands that really resonate understand integration is about conceptual sameness rather than executional sameness, and the job across channels is to orchestrate and understand how they interact, not make them look and do the same thing.

Russell, I enjoyed watching your post on polyphony and I believe this metaphor works much better than your earlier version of multiple voices. You touched on something that is a key addition; the beat is the same it is only the tone and pitch that changes. Some people may fear, when you say multiple voices that you are attempting to be all things to all people. With polyphony it is easier to understand the point, that you can reinvent yourself in order to remain fresh, new and interesting. Who you are, or who the brand is at the core should not change.
Perhaps the real reason that your point is not catching on as you would hope is that so few companies truly understand who they are at the core, and therefore cling to the singular/artificial message they have and hammer everyone over the head with it no matter who they are talking to. When brands truly know who they are they are not afraid to change the pitch and tone, like Nike when they change ever so slightly to talk to outdoor enthusiasts (ACG), athletes (Pro), and women. Each time it just works to build the core meaning of Nike no matter who sees it. Another good example could be Madonna. She has always been a sexually fueled, avant-garde pop diva, but you can she has used polyphony throughout her career from "Papa don't preach" to "Hung Up." The place brands need to start is finding out exactly who they are, then they can use that and refresh it in any way they see fit to stay relevant.

There's just one thing I want to ask you:
with poliphony you mean the capability of the brand to use all the notes in his main scale so to give an all around sensation?

Example: if they had "harmonized" the Intel jingle with other notes in the same scale would have made it more interesting?
Nokia went on air at a certain point with different versions of his classic startup sounds (a version made with electric guitar, an "orchestral" version and so on) who were way more complex.

Is that what you meant?

Thank you

Ah, you mustn't ask me what I really mean, I can only work that out once I start talking about it, but i think Mike and Gareth and getting at it. It's not really about jingles per se, it's about music as a metaphor for brands.

Assumption One - brands have to be interesting, and they have to stay interesting. Dull brands (and repititious equals dull) can't break through with mere media weight any more. So brands have to find ways to change and surprise people, and keep them interesting.

Assumption Two - brands can't just completely change everything all the time. They need some form of consistency. People won't be bothered to pay that much attention to work out what they're saying. So let's say a brand doesn't have as much freedom to morph as say Madonna (who's way more interesting than most brands) but they have more freedom that most brands assume.

So given those things, what's a good metaphor for how a brand should behave?

I think polyphony works because it gets at the thought that you can take a single, simple coherent brand idea ( equals melody) and rather than just repeating it one can keep it interesting through variations, accompaniment, developments, inversions etc.

Does that make sense?

Sure Russell, I didn't meant jingles "per se". I just kept talking about jingles to follow you on your metaphors. And I was trying to enhance the discussion.

Maybe I 'm failing miserably, but what you're talking about in my mind evokes Ennio Morricone's soundtracks:

his soundtracks used to have one very strong theme that was twisted, turned, hidden under different arrangements and so on, but still kept a certain degree of recognizability. Was like stretching the capability of that peculiar theme to be "enlarged" without losing resolution, to use a photographic analogy.

Does this makes sense?

Exactly. A good soundtrack is a perfect example. A sustained piece of work that can take you through all kinds of moods and does all kinds of different jobs but retains a set of coherent, memorable ideas. (And apologies if I've been patronising.)

Russell,
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts again. You have just reminded me the tragedy i find in so many clients. They think creating that tone is really a "jingle" that sticks in one's head, much like a logo. I cant begin to tell you what i think when the taco bell jingle chimes start. I agree with what you are saying that core idea is truly the bass line of the idea, which all other melodies(ideas/adverts) should grow from. Now im not sure where the true fault lies: The agency or the client? Do you think that agencies are sacrificing brand vitality for equity? I always hear from my mates in Europe is that we Americans are houses of cards compared to european agencies, in which the client fears them but it sounds more like a universal problem. It is a great metaphor and now find myself picking brand polyphonies from itunes .

Content aside, I thought your presentation was pretty good, considering you were jet lagged and all.

It's about time we celebrate multidimensionalism. For the longest time adland has been talking about media fragmentation and how all agencies are doomed because of it. Well....may be not. More fragmentation gives musicians/conductors/planners more intruments to play with. Reaching people in more interesting, intricate, and perhaps more coherent ways. It does, however entail more thinking. But hey, that's our job. The more thinking is required, the more interesting the job gets.

Apologies in advanced for talking about polyphony only with regards to media. I think you were talking about polyphony on a more conceptual/ideas-basis.

Maybe a different thought. But hopefully close enough (in a polyphonic sense) to add to the debate.

A different brand metaphor: think stories.

We like our brands to be simple, concise, logical etc, because they can then fit the boxes in our brand pyramid, and be succinctly expressed in a one sentence positioning statement.

But in story terms the resultant tale would be short, blunt, superficial route-one, one note stuff, if this approach was followed: easy to ‘get’ but dull as dishwater and equally easy to forget.

Good stories, whether novels, movies, TV shows, or plays, tend to be far more complex: they have out of the blue plot twists you don’t understand; details and characters that seem confusing and contradictory. But it all makes sense in retrospect: the ‘ahhh’ moment (“that’s why X did that to Y”). It all fits within the overall plot and narrative structure, adding depth and texture that leaves you feeling rewarded and challenged.

Great brands are like this: rich with (polyphonic) detail if you look at the big picture and whole story.

It’s what makes them interesting and distinctive...but very difficult to express in the forms marketing and advertising disciplines dictate. So we denude them; we get rid of all that extraneous, ‘irrelevant’ stuff that muddies the water, until we have something nicely monophonic that can fit in all the right boxes.

yup, I buy that, definitely. It's why there's a Hollywood movie industry and not a Hollywood poster industry (sort of). People like complexity. Emotional complexity. Even if they sometimes like it wrapped in a high concept simple-looking package.

Maybe that's the trick - to make stuff like simple - bury the complexity.

Russell, Do you have any other late night video brain dumps posted? Where might we find them. Thanks.

There are a couple - the best shortcut is to go here: http://www.squidoo.com/planningschool/ and scroll down to the last three entries in 'ego gratification'.

As long as you promise you're not just looking so you can make fun of me.

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