What it says on the tin
In the book I’m currently reading, Thinking, Fast and Slow – a fascinating book about which I will write more extensively a few chapters down the track – Daniel Kahneman makes an interesting point on intelligence: Intelligence is not only the ability to reason; it is also the ability to find relevant material in memory and deploy attention when needed. So intelligence is not so much about the amount of, or even the quality of, information one possesses, but rather the skill with which one leverages it to solve problems. I started thinking about how this applies to brand planning.
Ideally, a strategy involves a trinity of insights: consumer insights (people), cultural insights (society) and category insights (product). Insight, however, is a much misused term. A genuine insight goes beyond mere observation; it goes deeper to reveal something fundamental about human behaviour (An example from the top of my head: people wear Prada is a fact. People wear Prada because it is a status symbol is more interesting. But why do we need to wear status symbols? People wear Prada because of insecurity or social pressure is getting warmer).
The first step is straight forward enough: to research and gather information. It takes skill however, to convert this into useful insights. This is where the intelligence of the planner comes in. Memory consists of acquired information as well as intuition and ‘common sense’ based on experience and conscious deliberation. It is the ability of the planner to bring to the front of mind relevant material from memory (relevant topics may include psychology, sociology, marketing theory and case studies, news, pop-culture trends etc) which is the key to arriving at insights. The collective storage of conscious and subconscious thoughts thus functions as a selection, interpretation and refinement machine through which the newly acquired information must be processed. A planner is the alchemist who turns raw information into gold
Ok, so it’s unnecessarily technical, but it sort of makes sense, right?