Archive | Simplify

The Problem With Climate Change

photo-1421081177127-339f586c9b49Over a decade ago Michael Crichton put out a book, State of Fear, on climate change. Probably it was his most controversial book and that’s reflected in the mixed Amazon reviews.

The point of the book wasn’t so much that climate change is a myth, but that there’s always been change and there’s a lot we don’t know. Such statements instantly label you a “denier” since it is an easy refuge for deniers to claim the same thing.

To demonstrate this, here’s what I do: When someone brings up climate change, I ask them why the sky is blue. The point, again, isn’t to deny climate change. The point is that the sky occupies about half peoples vision every waking day of their life, and most people don’t know why it’s blue. This question tends to make people pretty angry, but that’s not the intent. I have yet to meet anyone who knows why the sky is blue.

We’re all human, so we think it’s ok to on the one hand believe global temperatures will be higher in 100 years time and on the other not know the most basic things about the same system we’re trying to predict. Maybe that’s ok, but it still worries me.

evidence_co2

Good luck fixing this…

For the record, I’m more on the climate change side of the fence than anything else. But I’ve also worked in academic research environments, and you get to see just how much nonsense is put out when you do that. It doesn’t appear that climate change is a major problem for a while, and that’s why so few people care today. The question is how to get people to care about something bad that will happen to other people in the future. Maybe I’m wrong.

If you’re interested, here’s why the sky is blue. It was one of the questions I was asked when I wanted to move from Computer Science to Physics in University, and I happened to know why. The other interesting question was to show why basic differentials worked, essentially the proof Newton did a few hundred years ago. That’s another one where we’re taught the rules but rarely why they work.

Simplify Your Messaging For Success

Simplifying your messaging will help it spread. Here are examples:

I just caught this Adidas ad where they are messaging a relationship between Adidas and “future”:

It reminds me of something I’ve been working on with a few people – simplicity in messaging.

If you can at all do it, just use a single word in you messaging like Adidas did with “Future”. You can see this in all the best brands.

Simple messages are easier to remember, repeat and pass on. The more complicated it is, the harder it is to remember. One word is about as simple as you can go. They also let you self-identify: The word “future” means one thing to me and another to you, and we can both associate that with Adidas without conflicting.

Longer messaging complicates things and makes it harder for someone to associate. If Adidas went from “future” to “great future”, “future now”, “future fast” or anything else there is little value-add in the additional word. It would be complication for complications sake.

Another great example is Coke and “Enjoy”. Charlie Munger talks about Coca-Cola’s association with all things positive in this great read. The goal is very simple and Pavlovian – Coke wants to be associated with every positive thing in your life. Christmas? Coke. Party? Coke. Enjoy? Coke.

And of course Obama and “Hope”:

Obama Hope Messaging

I’ve asked many people now to name a product when prompted by “Enjoy” and nearly everyone says “coke”.

Positive, open-ended and meaningful words that people can ascribe their own meaning to will help you push your message. Some of them are even more subtle, consider Amazon and “Smile”:

Amazon Smile Messaging

They don’t even say it. Subliminal can be powerful at the disadvantage of people perhaps missing it entirely. The more famous FedEx hidden arrow illustrates this:

FedEx Hidden Arrow Messaging

Here’s one I made for United by modifying their United/Continental branding and adding “Arrive”:

United Arrive Messaging

“Arrive” is a wonderful word to add to a travel brand. I was going to add “Secure” to McAffee’s branding but they already did it:

McAffee Secure MessagingHow about a VC firm like Bessemer? I like “Innovate” over the more descriptive “Venture Partners” (which is the original):

Bessemer Original Messaging

Bessemer Innovate Messaging

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