Detonating The Idea
A good idea can make the maximum impact if you prepare the ground well for the detonation
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In the melee of communications, gone are the days of strictly one-on-one communications. Everything that is said or heard becomes fit for wider consumption, discussion or debate. There are no secrets anymore that stay within closed doors of a corporate boardroom, an appraisal session or a family dinner. A private comment has the potential to go viral as a Facebook post or Twitter feed. For every message, there is likely to be an accomplice, a bystander, an eavesdropper, a reporter, a promoter, an influencer, a detractor... It’s not about social media, it’s about heightened social messaging consumption.
In this background, there are opportunities for corporate communications to enlist the power of wider involvement to maximise impact. I seek your patience as I cite a live example in some detail. A long-standing construction chemical company recently embarked on a rebranding exercise to refresh its raison dé etre and provide its customers, dealers and internal stakeholders a renewed and more relevant proposition… ‘Future-proofing what you build’. The phrase stood for the very function of the company’s products which, as additives to mortar and cement, gave buildings and infrastructure the longevity they deserved. In addition to being a compelling product usage proposition, the line was also reflective of the spirit of corporate partnership with clients (especially government and real estate enterprises). Last, but certainly not the least, the tagline cued the nurturing of employee aspirations, protecting and building of their careers. For the average employee however, ‘Future-proofing what you build’ wasn’t self-explanatory.
To get them to understand the concept, a company-wide workshop needed to be conducted around the understanding of corporate values and how the tagline fitted into the scheme of things. At the end of this workshop, employees were given the task of explaining the concept of Future-proofing to their children or members of their younger generation at home, and have them interpret the ‘Future-proofing’ thought in their own context. Having done that, these children were encouraged to submit a painting or drawing reflecting what they visualised as part of a company-wide contest. In time, the entries which came in were truly inspiring. Children depicted environmental future-proofing (cleanliness, pollution, eco-friendly, saving water) to traffic safety, children protection and animal protection... The best twelve went onto the company’s widely distributed corporate calendar, and a large poster consolidating the entries adorned the reception areas of all branch offices.
The learnings from this case are several:
i) You can choose to induct an indirect target group (children) into a corporate programme, if their participation makes the most critical target group (current employees) more responsible and involved.
ii) A seemingly complex or elevated concept can become simplified through co-creation. The children’s ability, even if aided by their elders, to interpret and contextualise from their own perspective, allowed the idea to generate greater power and relevance.
iii) A corporate philosophy, when marrying a product proposition as well as a social message, can be flexibly and widely used across audience groups and situations. Sponsorships of eco-friendly CSR endeavours sat extremely well for this company.
iv) A good idea can make the maximum impact if you prepare the ground well for the detonation.
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