I’ll admit, I’ve been a fan ever since I started studying advertising back in college. The way he just plain didn’t seem to care what the rest of the world thought played well with 20-year old me.
It wasn’t much later, until I actually started working in communications myself that I started to realize it wasn’t that he didn’t care what others thought, because he obviously did or he wouldn’t be in advertising, but it was that he knew how to make other think about things. It was that realization that made me fall head over heels in professional love with a bald, glasses-wearing, swearing guy named George Lois.
Since that time, I’ve read everything the guy’s written – from pieces in GQ, AdWeek, AdAge, heck if he’d scrawled something meaningful on a bathroom wall in Queens, I’d probably be there reading that too. So, when his book (which he worked on with his son) "Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent)" came out, I picked it up immediately and read it cover to cover a couple times (so many times that I’m sure my wife was getting tired of me pointing out parts).
Now, I don’t work in traditional advertising and I’m not a creative, but over the years, I’ve found that you can take Lois' words and extrapolate them to make sense for the wider communications field. His tenets provide guidance for PR people, copywriters, art directors, and more. Lois' words even have nuggets of truth for those of us in the social field – one which tries so hard not to be “traditional” or “advertising.”
Reject Group Grope
This make perfect sense to me. We’re in this time where the more bodies you put in a room, the more important a meeting feels. However, when you’re working in the world of social and digital, every second counts.
You’re working with immediacy and the more people that have to come to consensus on an idea or a program means more time (and often a watered down idea). Small, smart teams of dedicated people can mean the difference between being first on the scene in social, or just hopping on the also-ran bandwagon.
Don’t Expect a Creative Idea to Pop Out of Your Computer
We think, because most of our work happens in the digital/online space, that we need to look to the computer for answers. Yes, computers are fun. Yes, there give us access to a ton of information. The thing is, that information is already out there. It’s already established.
As digital creative and social leaders, we need to step away from the computer and realize that our business, at the end of the day, is really all about communication and relationships – things that exist away from a computer screen. Take the time to get away from the glow and think about the relationship between your clients, their consumers, and the products. Put yourself in their every day.
A Truly Great Ad Campaign is Driven by a Big Idea that Contains 1. A Memorable Slogan! 2. A Memorable Visual!
Instagram. Boom. Images and copy are so vital right now.
Images at one time seemed like these conjured creations born in dimly-lit rooms, while copywriters crafted the perfect combination of words, spaces, and punctuation to give us a feeling. Now, millions of people carry the tools to create memorable images and words right in their hands. That doesn’t make those images and words less important to an advertiser.
We need to cut through the noise and deliver excellently crafted content that combines images and words every time we post something. Remember, your EdgeRank and your clients’ brand depend on it.
A Big Idea Can Change World Culture
Nowhere is this more present today than on social. Brands around the world are starting revolutions in human behavior simply from the things they’re doing with their businesses and advertising.
Look at Warby Parker, a virtual unknown that changed the way we think about buying glasses… and oh yeah, they’re not only changing the way we buy, they’re changing the way underprivileged citizens are seeing the world through donations of prescription eyewear and services.
Zappos changed the way people think about customer service with their always-on, employee powered customer service practice. There are new and interesting ways to interact with consumers every day, and social is giving us the chance to push those ideas even further.
Even a Brilliant Idea Won’t Sell Itself
Sadly, even now, many brands don't view social as the “big budget” item. Social needs to still be scrappy and sell its ideas at the highest levels with all the passion and creativity it can muster.
It isn't enough to have a great idea. Your stakeholders must believe in that great idea – otherwise, it can join many other great ideas in the round filing bin of most corporate conference rooms.
While most of us won’t win design awards or get to design the cover of Esquire, we can all take a bit of Lois’ words to heart. At the heart of things, marketing is about listening, learning, and communicating. If we can keep those things at the base of what we’re doing and forget about the perils of failing from time to time, we’ll all do just fine.