For a while now, the research community has been trumpeting the notion of focus. 

In other words, toggling from one thing to another doubles errors and decreases productivity.

The Journal of Experimental Psychology.  Stanford.   University of California/Irvine.  And still other psychologists are encouraging that we do less, get more.

Yet software and technology seem to demand our attention on all fronts, at all times.  Count, for instance, the number of browser tabs open.  Notifications per minute about email, texts, and other media.  Even the times per hour we check our inboxes.

So, like the slow food movement, Slow Web is being born.  It’s the idea of doing one activity at a time with as few distractions and interruptions as possible.  No real-time alerts, simply concentration on the activity at hand. 

As communicators and, quite frankly, proponents of media of all sorts, it’s to our advantage to champion SW.  Much of our advocacy could be in the form of a true campaign; after all, who knows best how to tame the tech beast than us?  Recommendations like prioritizing, meeting with managers to identify to-dos, identifying and avoiding distractions, and, yes, underestimating daily goals are just a few top-of-mind thoughts (and we’re sure you’ve got others).  Even goldfish have a longer attention span than we do.

It’ll take time, patience, and practice.  We call it “catching the mono-culture.”


There’s something not quite right with messaging.

[Don’t get your hackles up, please.  We’re not maligning words or choices or their arrangements.]

In every map, every grid, every page in which we capture the essence of a business, it falls flat.  Sure, we can add emotional words, even exclamation marks (though save us from too many).  Yet the story is somehow lacking.  Words alone aren’t working … at least, for us.

Of late, we’ve been applying an idea from the design world.  Which is, the creation of mood boards, once assembled from a bunch of oversized, colorful magazines, even photography books.  With a glue stick, scissors and a generous foam core board, a collage develops that reflects themes and a vague essence of feeling.  Interior designers, artists, creative directors, fashion folks use these liberally; in fact, they guard the completed boards with their lives, keeping them ultra-confidential until the project has been revealed. 

So what stops us – communicators and branding experts – from starting our stories this way?  It connects the heart and the brain.  It helps coordinate a corporate tale.  And it quickly lets others know exactly where we’re going.  Yup, a series of pictures (yes, with words) relates the beginning and middle and ongoing events that make up a business’ life.

No Moody blues, here. 


Six billion every day.

No, not McDonald’s burgers, but emojis sent and received via the world’s two-plus billion smartphones.

Advocates (and there are many, with tops being ad agencies) claim these little pictures emulate our feelings and the expressions and gestures we use talking with others in face-to-face conversations.

Still others who have plumbed the psychology of these stimulations du jour insist they’re changing our speech patterns and expressing our authentic selves – our interests, our reactions, even innuendoes. 

We don’t buy it.

Though this trend started in the ‘90s and gained steam of late, thanks to marketers like Coke and Dove, Bud Light and Starbucks (among others), it’s simply another way for us not to talk – and, by extension, not to understand each other. 

Sure, it promotes our brain’s desire for visual communications.  And it’s definitely a convenient shorthand to capture one, maybe two emotions.  But even those frequent users insist that there are clear rules for campaigning with these Japanese little pictures:

  1. Know your audience’s emoji usage habits, like age, location, and gender
  2. Identify the most common emojis and
  3. Know how the audience speaks.

Hmm.  So if we truly studied our target audience’s speaking patterns, as number three recommends, wouldn’t it be easier to just, er, talk with them?


Thank you, film critic A.O. Scott of The New York Times, for your elegant introduction to the art of criticism.

So, as is our habit, we’ll riff on your title, and apply it to our everyday business activities.

Straight out:  Regardless of our position as communicators, brand gurus, designers, marketers, and the like, and regardless of our industry tenure, criticism does rankle when coming from clients (who are not necessarily writers or …).  Scott does point out that judging work is an indispensable activity, and often a democratic and conversational one.  Yet sometimes the criticism is delivered a bit too sharply and gets under our creative skins.

On the other hand, our clients pay for our best work – and criticism, pundits say, must be calculated into the compensation.  Much like the system of performance management in companies, we’re suggesting that when drafts and storyboards are reviewed, the reviewers remember that criticism is based on a social relationship.  Herewith our ‘asks’ for our critics.  Ideally, your rendered judgments need to be:

  • Timely
  • Brief and succinct
  • Relevant and to the point
  • Clear, specific, and precise
  • Well researched
  • Sincere and positively intended and
  • Articulate, persuasive, and actionable.

Which means, from our point of view, that you assess work fairly and accurately, with no blame.  For sure, we can fix anything – and will.  It makes it a lot easier when the judge is constructive:  no finger pointing, no negativism, and no personal attacks.  Tell us exactly what your vision is.  We’re happy to march to that aspiration.