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Insights That Incite

Insights That Incite

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Published by: api-25959195 on Nov 13, 2009
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The YellowPapers Series
Insightsthat Incite
Unlocking the Simple, Yet Untapped
The best insights are thesimplest ones – the onesthat once introducedblend into our day-to-day consciousness with narya ripple.
 Arguably the most eective and enduringcommunications are born rom single,simple insights into human behavior –or more specically, human
 behavior. Insights so simple, in act, thatonce revealed people react by saying,“That must already exist” or “Why didn’tI think o that?”Let me begin with the story o an innovationthat illustrates the power o an insight. In
, which came out in 1851, oneo the characters straps his sea chest to awheelbarrow, but then, not knowing how tomaneuver the barrow, he gathers the wholeassembly and carries it. Now ast-orwardto the 1970s, when wheels rst appearedon traditional suitcases. This breakthroughis attributed to Bernard Sadow, who tuggedhis odd-looking prototype into Macy’s in1972. The luggage buyer ridiculed him,saying no one would want to drag theirluggage, but was soon overruled by asharper, more travel-savvy vice president.For Mr. Sadow, inspiration had come oneday in 1971 when he was lugging a largesuitcase through customs and a manbreezed by, towing heavy machinery ona dolly. Mr. Sadow drew on the idea todevelop the technology whereby travelerscould pull their luggage with a leash. Andsure, these poorly balanced suitcasestoppled over en masse in airports andtrain stations, but it was still a hugeimprovement over the technology that hadremained largely unchanged or centuries.He demonstrated that an insight comesrom acute observation and deduction andchanged the industry rom lug to tug.Now we move to 1989, because it takesa urther 17 years to improve on leashedluggage, when Northwest Airlines pilotBob Plath develops the roll-aboardsuitcase or fight crews. It soon spawnswheels on all luggage types. I spend agreat deal o time fying and continue tomarvel at roller luggage – a simple idea that
Insights that Incite The  Yellow Paper Series
has had such impact. In act, i you thinkabout the word “luggage” it connotes “tolug,” to be uncomortable, to be a humanbeast o burden. It took us a long time toshatter that notion. You see, the best insights are the simplestones – the ones that once introducedblend into our day-to-day consciousnesswith nary a ripple. They are so smoothlyincorporated that we eel like they havealways been there. Now we can hardlyremember luggage without wheels. This also illustrates how critical it is tounderstand human and consumer behaviorand to unlock the opportunities theypresent in business communications. Thispaper explores methods o gaining thosecritical insights, along with illustrative andentertaining examples o how to leveragethem to grow brand awareness and value.
3Insights that Incite The YellowPaper Series
Dening Insights
Now let’s get denitional. An insight is a piece o inormation. It is the act or result o apprehending the inner nature o things. When donewell, it appears as i one sees intuitively, almost magically. It involves introspection and sel-examination. Oten acute observation anddeduction are required. Penetrating analysis and perception aid in identiying a catalyst that shows us what can and should be, ratherthan the status quo. Because, and I paraphrase, convention deends the status quo long ater the quo has lost its status. There’s an interesting story about Dartmouth College and why its central “green” looksthe way it does. Years ago, Dartmouth commissioned an architect to design walkways orstudents. The architect decided to wait until winter to lay out the paths. Once the snow ell— and it being New Hampshire, a lot o snow ell — the architect simply looked out romthe campus bell tower and sketched the ootpaths the students naturally wore into thesnow. That pattern is the Dartmouth green o today. An insight can maniest itsel suddenlywith such startling clarity that it can be equated to a philosophical or religious epiphany. A business insight comes rom a deep understanding o consumers’ attitudes and belies.It allows the marketer to connect at an emotional level while still communicating andextolling unctional benets o a product or service. Brands are relationships built uponshared values. I am preppy so I wear Lacoste or Brooks Brothers – I enjoy that instantpedigree and eeling that I belong to a club o like-minded people. This is a simplisticexample o a branded community.
Jeff Swystun
isChie Communications Ocer,DDB Worldwide. He is responsible or all aspectso the DDB brand, including intellectual capital,marketing, internal communications, andknowledge management. Je has spoken atmore than 80 conerences in over 25 countries.He is the editor and author o numerousbooks, papers and reports, among them “TheBrand Marketer’s Report” and “The BrandGlossary.” Je’s work has appeared in over250 publications and on numerous televisionprograms, including CNBC’s “Squawk Box”and “On the Money.”
 And orming communities is what humansdo. We join communities to nd oneanother, to belong. But in actuality we join communities to express ourselves– whether religiously, politically, or onour Facebook page. The drive to ormcommunities is as old as civilization. In act,it’s why we have civilization in the rst place.

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