‘Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter.’

Animation Presentation GIF by David Urbinati-source.gif

If you use Powerpoint, a few principles and tips to keep in mind when using type on a slide:

Don’t read the words. It’s bad enough that people use Powerpoint as a sort of teleprompter. Much worse that you don’t trust the audience enough to read what you wrote. If you want them to read the precise words, stand quietly until they do. If you want to paraphrase the words, that can work.

Big font, few words. And use pictures. Your narrative is the message.

Words on slides by Seth Godin

Words still matter 


There was a moment when marketers thought words didn’t matter, that the future was speaking through images.

But then everybody’s images started looking the same. The Instagram feed looked like a giant pile of sameness where anyone could be a photographer and upload a beautiful picture.

Snapchat then ushered in the video game and all of a sudden, copycats followed. Facebook’s algorithm started to favor video. Instagram introduced Stories and Live. People could share their thoughts without a keyboard.


But if there’s anything Twitter shows us, words matter more than ever. The US president and the ‘rocket man’ tease nuclear war. While images and video are propaganda, it is words that beget action; they are volatile, easily copy-pasted and bent into echo chambers to paint fraudulent stories of intent.

If we want to awe someone, we choose static and moving images. But if we ‘re going to poke someone, we select text.

Words are game changers. Not only do they provide context to an empty visual, but they also control the inner-narrative that ultimately influences external decisions. Choose them with care.

The peripheral things

The periphery shapes reality. We consume everything through our phones and apps likes Instagram. These tools shape the message and our interpretation of the world.

Things are rarely novel. What changes is the method in which items are delivered to human attention. People latch on to trends and make them feel new, no matter how old they are.

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The original fidget spinner dating back to 2000BC (via)

We confuse newness with progress. History rests on a gif loop of attention. The fear is that we lose all memory of how reality existed the first time.

‘This is not an apple’

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Ceci n’est pas une pomme by Réne Magritte (1964)

You can go ahead and try to eat this apple. But the representation of the apple is pure fiction; you can’t eat it. It is a mere rendering of something you could consume. Like a map, it displays territory that exists only in mind.

Nonetheless, the picture provokes all the emotions that go in eating a real apple: the unpeeled texture, the juiciness, and sugary smell.

The first taste is always with your eyes. The imagination recasts the image into a vicarious eating experience that triggers your hunger.

Pictures inherently lie just as the lines fabricate the authenticity of lines of territory on a map. What it is is the robust interpretation of the present in the fairytale of the movie-making mind. The dimension is here and now, neurologically tangible, but you still can’t touch it.

The marketing is only as good as what you tell yourself.

 

Making for the micro

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People always made art. Now, we just make it and share it in abundance.

But all the noise makes it impossible for aspiring creators to stand out.

On the flip side, the bell curve is widening from the masses to the niches. We can build an audience around sub-genres at scale for the first time ever; the Internet helps us stay connected.

Once we shift our strategy from marketing to everyone to the marketing to the micro, we set ourselves up to make deeper work that lasts.

Your weirdness is not only acceptable, it’s mainstream.

“To get across an idea.”

Charles and Ray Eames foretold a society of dizzying pace even before the inundation of mobile screens, interactive billboards, and social media feeds that are so normal today.

As The Met’s video editor Sarah Cowan writes in the Paris Review:

“Their most ambitious multimedia work pushed the capacity of the medium and its platform, as when they designed Think for IBM’s Pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair: a spectacular, twenty-two-screen live lecture about problem solving, and America’s first taste of information overload.

But even the Eamses couldn’t have predicted the ubiquitousness of smart technology. Nor could they have imagined a company like Amazon acquiring a grocery store to spread its talons to connect new physical and digital industries.

Below is a fascinating look at the 1964 World’s Fair. It’s as if people and brands coexist to write the future.

All the internet’s a stage

via giphy

We can all assume that a social media persona is different than that in real life. Writes Jonathan Crossfield in Chief Content Officer Magazine: “Strategy or no strategy, all social media is artifice and spin.”

No one is going to post in public what they Google in private. We’d rather tweet about golfing than revealing a Saturday afternoon doing the dishes.

We curate our avatars, acting like celebrities and influencers to build up our personal brands.

If Instagram and Twitter present an edited version of real life, reality reveals half the digital truth.

We create the appearance of authenticity online.

We invent polished experiences so we can share them. We manipulate the public microphone to project the best self, even if that five-second clip is ephemeral and disappears.

All the internet’s a stage. As online entertainers, it is no surprise that we often fail to live up to the shinier version of ourselves offline. We set the bar too high like the movies, leaving nonfiction in doubt.


This is my daily collection of interesting reads and new music. I spend a lot of time digging the web for cool stuff and remixing them here. If you dig the blog, please consider making a donation or buying a book. A cup of coffee to helping out with hosting goes a long way.

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“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols

It doesn’t matter what books we write or discoveries we make. People only remember us if we appear on TV. In Tom Nichols’ case, succeeding on on Jeopardy superseded his professional accolades as a published author, foreign advisor, and professor at Naval War College.

Television is magic. It informs large audiences that we exist. That’s where talents like Will Smith established their brand. But TV also generates the antithesis: it makes stupid people famous.

The Kardashians pollute the news with their meaninglessness. The President too is a product of the mass marketing machine that is TV. The tube amplifies our status, but it rarely legitimizes the importance of work. Just ask Professor Robert Kelly whose video will forever be remembered as the poster parent for those who work from home with kids. And yes, online is an extension of TV, including YouTube, SnapChat, and Facebook Live. The future of storytelling is pervasive and persuasive video.

Like a social media following, appearing on TV lends instant credibility. Fame is forever tied to visual media. What’s universally more important though is what we build with our bare hands off-screen.

What’s your brand’s ‘leitmotiv?’

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Burberry’s Britishness. Red Bull’s energy and fearlessness. Prada’s edginess and bold product design.

The leitmotiv, as the German composer Richard Wagner called it, is the signature concept of your brand that makes it impossible to ignore. For Wagner, his music was the key ingredient to his theatrical performances.

Similarily, brand leitmotiv makes the businesses listed above so memorable. They all produce a variety of content evoking their imaginations. They create emotional experiences across all touch points whether you’re in the store or streaming one of their live events online.

Whether a brand, band, or individual, it’s important to project an ethos that represents your inherit values. You shouldn’t have to reveal your message, the crowd should already feel it.

What do you stand for? What do want to be known for? And what things do you make and market to lace it altogether?

Read The Power Of Leitmotiv

The marketers are the buyers

Ditch the logo (photo via David Beale)
  • The dealership leaves its logo on your license plate when you drive off the parking lot.
  • WordPress stamps its logo into the footer credits after you set up a blog. “Proudly powered by WordPress.”

You can remove the branding with a screwdriver or change the code in the footer.php file.

Most people find the branding tolerable or at the least, not annoying enough to remove. Others like to signal their participation in the larger community. Few people remove the logo completely. They take the extra effort to white-label their property.

People are the product, the promotional carriers of the branding virus. The seller is always subtle, ready to stamp the extra awareness where it can get it.

More money, more problems

Outspending your competition doesn’t always guarantee success. Leicester City won the Premiership League with a fifth of the payroll of the top clubs.

What wins is better thinking. The San Antonio Spurs are good every year because of Gregg Popovich. He finds the right talent and makes the players play as a unit, for each other, and above all, to win the hearts of their fans.

What money assures is more marketing, more awareness, which the end-product must justify. If the product fails to meet expectations, you’ll not only lose the customer’s trust; they’ll share the bad experience with their friends. Prospects may come easy, but they leave even faster, never to become repeat patrons again.

The best business seems to be a unique offering in combination with beneficial word-of-mouth marketing. If you gain the trust of enough customers, they’ll spread the word for you both offline and online.

Throwing money at the problem to gain attention is a short-term solution. The band-aid always comes loose. More money does not guarantee better thinking. For that, you need to hire a good coach and an even better accountant.

Online Is the New TV

I cut the cable years ago. But now TV is more pervasive because online is TV and Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook Live are the channels.

But this new type of TV is different. It’s real, raw, and mostly unedited. For that reason, it can be more entertaining (re: distracting) than traditional TV.

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It’s no surprise that social media has overtaken traditional TV as a place where people find and consume the news.

The new TV is right in front of us on your computer screen, laptop or mobile. TV is ubiquitous, pervasive. And it’s just going to get stickier.

The newsfeed will be all video over the next 5 years. This means we’ll need to be wary of over-consumption.

Our attention is already scarce. TV is TV regardless of where the majority of people view video. Time spent watching TV can either be time-wasted or time well spent. Keep your eyeballs intact.

Taste at First Sight 👁👀👁

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“The first taste is always with your eyes.”

Everything is contrived, from the glowing burger buns, fresh lettuce and tomatoes, to the juicy fresh meat. Video takes food advertising even further, making it come alive from its static state.

Table top advertising or food marketing is no different than any other product marketing: the illusion never matches with the reality of creating it. In reality, the food has been dressed up and augmented to look fresh and mouth watering like those lobsters in Red Lobster commercials.

Fashion advertising is similar. The model is always more enticing wearing makeup and sporting a six pack. When models make commercials, they never smile. Bad assery sells.

Not surprisingly, food porn and selfies are huge on Instagram too, the people’s marketing platform. A little bit of shoot preparation and filters make both food and faces look better than they actually are.

Today, anyone can use technology to create a Hollywood look. Everyone’s deceiving and buying lies at the same time. We all desire better versions of ourselves, including what appears on our plates.

Learn more