Insights are an elusive commodity. Much discussed and demanded. Many banal observations pretending to be them. But actually very rarely ever discovered. They tend to turn up more in job titles nowadays than anywhere else.
Large chunks of my time at work in the past quarter century have been spent in the vain pursuit of an elusive insight, or in conversation with a colleague, client or creative team who has declared "that’s not an insight" when I have proudly revealed my latest pearl of wisdom.
But I don’t need to worry about that anymore, because I have been given The Insight.
One insight to rule them all.
It’s such a good one that I can’t even bring myself to pretend that I came up with it.
I was chatting with Sarah Booth, now of ASOS, and she said to me, "You see Craig, everyone is lonely and confused."
Everyone is lonely and confused.
First you think, yes, I do feel a bit like that. The world is a tricky place and it’s hard to work out what’s going on a lot of the time. Impossible, in fact. And yes, ultimately we are all alone.
And then you think about brands and business.
Facebook and Google have built two of the largest corporations the world has ever seen on this insight. Will you be friends with me? I wonder what the answer to this is?
And then you think about politics.
Donald Trump made America’s problems suddenly seem so simple, whereas that guy from Hawaii with the funny name pretended that you had to be quite clever to solve things. And Trump built his entire campaign on mass rallies of supporters. Belonging.
Brexit? Don’t worry about all that stuff the experts said. This is simple. Take back control. Spend that money on the NHS instead. And we can all be British again, without all these foreigners in the way.
And then I thought about my clients.
What are they really paying for? Deeply researched strategic acumen and creative brilliance, obviously. But maybe equally as important, they’re looking for someone to share their problems and provide some clarity about what to do next.
And your teams.
What are they looking for in a leader? In a manager? Someone to share their problems with and someone to help offer advice on what to do next.
And your brands.
If you think about the brands you look after, I guarantee you they will all be improved by addressing The Insight.
Lonely confusion rules
How can you create community around your brand? Make it a way for people to feel connected to other people? Either online, offline, or the way that you present and project your values, so your customers feel a little less alone.
Have you created simple meaning for your brand? Given it the clarity that enables people to know it and use it in their lives. To slot into the set of things in their world that make sense, that they don’t need to question or think too hard about. So you can become habitual and unquestioned.
If you’re doing anything that pushes in a different direction, then stop. And if you’re already addressing these questions then double down on it and keep on going.
So that’s all you need to know.
Everyone is lonely and confused.
Live a life, build a career, lead a nation, make a brand, by offering community and clarity.
And if you don’t think that’s the only insight you need, then you can take your semantic complaints to Sarah.
But before you do, just take a moment to make sure you’re certain, and don’t go alone.
Life’s better that way.