When Teaching is ‘Not’ to Teach

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The driving force of language acquisition for the Bonobo Apes comes from what they hear from those around them who mean something to them. So the way to teach them is not to teach them.

—Susan Savage-Rumbaugh. TED Talks

There are many examples of how meaning is cooked in between innovation and audience response. I paint a painting that I think is shocking or sad and I receive giggles from my audience. Something absurd hits their funny bone. And suddenly my relationship to the painting changes. My authorship becomes shared, the brand of the painting is now a living thing between us where relevant conversation takes place.
This part is a bit perplexing to my clients. When the brand is launched, the campaigns running, the words perfected, the content placed and designed for a targeted result, why then are they not getting the responses that they predicted or hoped they would. Didn’t the science work?

It seems to boil down to something purely emotional doesn’t it? While the perfect brand platform conveys a wonderful introduction to who you are, how you care about your business, your good taste in design…it’s the interaction with your promises, your offerings and the character you convey as you offer it that pulls people in powerfully. If you create an environment that says “I understand my brand is actually defined by you, my audience and customers, and I am the conduit, the atmosphere maker, the host and hostess of this house called ‘my business brand”, the response is one that invites conversation. And brands are meant to grow with input.
A brand as we know now is not just a logo anymore, it’s a cultural event.
So, enter the dance floor and be your best self and listen well. The audience, our cultural milieu is always talking to us. And when we listen, our brands grow as organically as love between people, as a garden, as the rising emotion of an audience seated before an extraordinary performance.
Brands happen in between it all. I love how Susan Savage-Rumbaugh puts it…that to teach the apes language is not to teach at all but to create a meaningful culture with people who matter to them. They learn in the listening.

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