The unfinishedness of it all
As some of you know, I had a baby this year. The thing with babies is that while they leave you a lot of time to think, they don’t leave you with much time to actually do anything. Like the time I watched an entire Transformers movie (with commercials) standing up, swaying like an LSD-riddled hippy at Woodstock, because every time I tried to put the baby down she wailed so loudly I thought the neighbours would call the police. So I had quite a few good ideas this year, but hardly any of them made it to the blog.
Now that we’re a week into 2014, and everyone else is posting their ‘Top 10 posts of 2013’, I’ve decided to face the fact that most of my nascent blog posts will never get properly written. But don’t despair! Today, I share with you the things I would have blogged about in 2013, if only I, uh, had.
1. Chris Stark interviews Mila Kunis; viral hilarity ensues
I’ve been a fan of Chris Stark’s ‘24 Years at the Tap End‘ autobography (yes, that’s autoBOGraphy, since the ‘tap end’ refers to Chris sitting in the bathtub with his back at the tap end, and bathtubs tend to be in bathrooms, also known as ‘bogs’ in the UK) for a while now, so I didn’t find his Mila Kunis interview all that surprising. Just in case you didn’t catch it back in March:
What was surprising was Mila Kunis’ response, and how the whole exchange just ripped the top off every other boring celebrity press junket interview flooding the market. I wanted to write a post about how it was a good opportunity to address the gap between people’s stated preference for ‘media transparency’ and the fact that they just keep on consuming the same pre-packaged junk even when they’re given a choice, and how that affected the way marketers communicated with stakeholders. Et cetera. But that started to seem like it could be an entire PhD thesis (and it still could be! someone’s probably got a grant to write it right now!), which seemed like more time than I ever had at my disposal this year.
2. My continuing love of podcasts
I’ve written about my podcast obsession before, and it did not abate in 2013. I still think podcasts are the best way to maximize information intake while minimizing the amount of time you have to sit still, and they are pretty much the only reason why having a baby did not render me incapable of having a conversation about current events this year.
I kept meaning to write a post about my current favourite podcasts. I’ll probably write one in 2014, but in the meantime you should really check out the Radiolab podcasts, which are chock-full of interesting stuff you never knew about.
3. How companies spend too much time worrying about their logos
This year I did some work with a company which wanted to undertake some radical changes to their logo. “Why?” I asked. The answer, once I unpacked it, seemed mostly to be “We’re bored with the one we have.” This got me thinking about how, ultimately, a logo, as a graphic, is really much less important than what you do with it, as a part of a brand. I mean, does anyone really think the Zappos logo is attractive? And yet everyone thinks they’ve got a great brand.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized I’d probably have to do some research into the neuroscience of semiotics, and frankly, these days I find it surprising I ever managed to read The Name of the Rose, let alone Eco’s other works on semiotic theory, because that seems like more brainpower than I’ll ever have again.
4. How companies spend too much time worrying about their names
The truth is that if someone pitched up today with a name like ‘Kleenex’ or ‘Vaseline’ for their brand-new product, the venture capitalists would laugh them out of the room. And yet these names have been so successful they’ve become generic terms for all facial tissue and petroleum jelly lubricant products. I remember when Google first launched – it didn’t have the hipster cachet it does today, and no one thought it was sufficiently ‘serious’ (name-wise, anyway) to be the global dominator it is today. As in #3, a name is less important than what you do with it over time, and what it comes to mean in the minds of your stakeholders. And as in #3, the neuroscience research required to make my point in any more than the most anecdotal way seems like something I might find time to tackle in, like, June.
5. The genius of ColaLife
In many developing countries, dysentery is a leading cause of death, especially in children. The cure isn’t complicated, but getting the treatment kits to the remote areas that need it most has been a huge stumbling block: Transportation isn’t reliable, routes aren’t secure, and aid workers aren’t welcome. So this ColaLife company came up with a way to make the kits fit into cases of Coca-Cola, which does somehow find its way to even the most remote areas.
It’s a really interesting case study about supply chain, market forces, and how sometimes selling people something is more effective than giving people something. It’s the sort of thing that deserves a lot more attention, because it’s a model that sort of fundamentally changes the way we think about developing nations and their approach to consumerism. So I wanted to write about it for a whole bunch of reasons.
I feel so much less guilty now.
Well, if nothing else, I’ve cleared my conscience a little bit – there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’ve got ideas stacked up that need to be written before you can get to any of the new ideas you keep having. Maybe I can turn this ‘5 things I meant to blog about’ idea into a thing, with webinars and TED talks and Kindle books about Freeing the Logjam of Your Brilliance.
Wow – see how that worked?