Recently, I had the misfortune to endure a performance of ‘Scrublands’ at the Brighton Fringe. (Tip – if you’re considering that show, don’t. Turgid self-obsessed ramblings of a dude in sunglasses accompanied by a woman dancing like she needs the toilet)
Performed (and I use the word loosely) in the old Brighton Police Cells underground, Scrublands delivers a perfect lesson in what NOT to do with your brand if you want to engage your audience – and why you need to make your ideas actually work for you.
For those of you who haven’t visited the old Police cells, imagine a smallish room, underground, seemingly designed so that you can wash blood easily off the walls and have somewhere to park your truncheon/Police hat.
When the door shuts, it’s almost totally silent aside from the gentle electric heartbeat of power flowing through emergency exit lighting.
Perfect for a play about incarceration. A location to reinforce the performance, to drag the audience physically into the message of the piece.
Except that it wasn’t.
The piece didn’t really have anything to do with being locked up for what I could tell (aside from the poor audience who just wanted to leave).
There was nowhere to sit, so most of us lounged against the walls, against the racking, getting ever more uncomfortable and paying more attention to which limb was slowly falling asleep than we did to the ‘actor’.
Eventually, the location and the constant shuffling to see the ‘action’ or hear the ‘actor’ completely blocked out the reason that we were there – to see an original performance. Because we couldn’t see it (walls, shelving and other people’s heads in the way). Or we couldn’t hear it (muttering, echoing, shuffling of feet).
The space – which probably sounded tiptop on paper – worked against the performance completely.
For our brands, this is an important lesson.
Never, EVER, implement an idea that doesn’t enhance your product, your marketing or your brand.
Never, ever. Ever.
If it sounds great on paper, try it from the point of your customer.
Live the idea. Walk it about a bit.
Drag someone else in and subject them to it with only a skeleton outline of what the whole thing’s about.
And if it doesn’t feel right, if you end up with an aching back, sore feet and no prospect of an interval (so to speak), do what your customer will do – leave and find something else.
Great ideas are great – and we need more of them.
But ONLY if they enhance the whole package.
Otherwise, they’re only a distraction.
And a distracted customer is a lost customer.
Neil Hopkins is a Marketing and Branding Theorist at heart, and a Marketing Communications Manager by day. His blog – interacter – is the primary location he shares insight and information relating to marketing, branding and advertising strategy.
You can follow Neil on Twitter, circle him (like an escaped bull) on Google+ or track him down in any number of other ways.
Featured image on this post comes from DieselDemon’s Flickr Photostream. And no, it isn’t of Brighton cells.