Simple, not simplistic.
Simple messages are more likely to be remembered and shared. Which is why most briefs have "one key thing." It's also why trying to game the brief by adding a double entendre or a two-pronged one key thing makes it exponentially more difficult to use.
Pay with a tweet is easy to talk about. A mobile application that is a social network within a game that measures the speed of your car and gives you points to move up and down levels and and and - not so much. And things that are hard to talk about don't get shared.
As we build increasingly complex digital things - a website, an application, a community, a campaign - the imperative for the easily explainable idea becomes only greater. If you want to sell big ideas, you have to give clients the tools to sell them to their teams and the audience the tools to sell them to their friends.
But there's a tension - simplicity without nuance is boring. And boring things get ignored, too. So while our ideas need to be simple and shareable - each of them need to be packed full of interest generating elements. Or reasons for me to pay attention. And that's where cultural connections matter most. They help our audience identify who it's for and how it can be used.
But the site isn't only a rack of clothes. It's full of little content ideas that help me decide if what they sell is for me. So if I'm a lumberjack or something, the whole site would feel foreign. The interviews, the style advice, the profiles of old-school dapper celebrities, they all work together to help me know whether this is something I should stop down for or not. The content never distracts from your purchase, but helps to subtly explain it.
Converse adds the nudges at the bottom - Music, Basketball, Skateboarding, Style - each a reminder, I am for you. The shoes protect your feet - the music, the art, they infuse it with style. The communications aren't just a way to sell more shoes, they are as much a part of the product as the rubber or the canvas.
Earlier this year, Pop Secret launched Pop Secret Labs to use technology to make in-home movie watching more social. Each idea is designed to reach a specific audience or community - a Chrome application for the tech folks, then they've made partnerships with Someecards and OKCupid, reaching out to those that have already shown an ability to connect large audiences.
In each case, the core idea of the brand or the campaign uses smaller ideas to create the world it should live in. They are the connective tissue from the function of the thing to its meaning. When done properly, they make our ideas no less simple, but provide much richer, contextual experiences that give the audience a reason to pay attention.
This is often where campaign microsites and utility for utlity's sake applications consistently fail. While creating an airbrushed stereotype of our audience, we strip the reality, the nuance, the humanity from them. We create a fake world for our audiences instead of a rich world that reflects the one they actually live in. It's in this area that digital shops have the most catching up to do. Even the most technologically interesting solution will fall flat if it remains barren and disconnected.
In short -
If you want to make and sell big ideas, make them easy to talk about and share.
If you want people to watch or participate, use references to create familiarity, context and invite attention.
All for now. More to come.