If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?


Why? Simple: a tree falling merely creates a disruption in the environment; the air, the ground, the other surroundings. The falling of the tree creates vibrations in these things – a deviation from the relative formerly peaceful conditions. A disturbance. But no sound was made. It takes a LISTENER – a receptor – to complete the process by ingesting the disruption, perceiving it, and then processing it. Only when the physical disturbance is processed can the brain react accordingly, telling us “I just heard something.”  Transmitter, receiver. Both are needed. Otherwise, it’s an open loop. No receiver, no “sound” – the byproduct of disruption + perception.

Case in point: an elderly person whose hearing is poor enough to not register the sound of a too-quiet TV. In their mind, no sound was heard – therefor no sound was made. Or of dogs who can hear frequencies we cannot. So, “Just because I can’t hear it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make noise” might seem like a good argument, but it’s not. Transmissions are not sounds. Sound is only sound when there are those able to receive a transmission, register it, and process it. Otherwise: silence.

Now, think about branding the same way. If a company’s brand is being put out there, but does not speak to us – does not register – then that brand attempt is falling on deaf ears. Because, after all, brand is created in the individual minds of an audience. Brand is not a logo, a color chart, a design. It’s not a commodity; it’s emotional knowledge. It’s a whole vibe that tells every cell in our body how we feel about a product, service, company, person, place. And if any marketer tells you flatly, “We build brands”, they are misguided. They do not. They can steer them; they can help influence them; they can do their best to regulate the flow of triggers that might illicit a reaction in us. But just as with sound, it is up to the audience to process those triggers – those influencers – and translate them into brand. As an audience, what we do with that brand communication is entirely up to us. And what the marketers are hoping is that our actions match their goals. And as a company who works in the world of branding, this is our objective, too.

A call to action is merely that: a call. As the audience, WE decide how we act. This is based on the brand we have created in our mind, from all the signals received – the disruption – from a marketer. And if that disruption fails to make an impression on us, eliciting zero response, there ultimately is no brand.

Proverbial trees fall in the woods all the time from never having made a brand connection. To a would-be audience, it’s as if those trees never existed.

Think about it.


Global Starts with Local

It should almost go without saying that any idea, any piece of information, any “next big thing” gains popularity and traction by word of mouth, either through the masses or through the “mouth of the media.” Social media is the obvious winner here, but it’s really just a digital version of something humans have been doing for as long as we’ve been around: word of mouth. Information spreads like a virus.

It’s easy to forget that every wall starts with one brick. Every marathon, with one step. And every idea spread one person at a time. Like a multi-legged table, each leg doing its part in the greater good of support, so too does any piece of communication hoping to gain widespread awareness rely on the interconnected mass fabric of society.

When it comes to communications, “national” is ultimately a network of many “locals”. Local is where the power is. Local speaks to individuals. And individuals are where it all begins, building something greater than themselves.

We’re Honored

gener8or communications is honored to have been named a recipient of the 2012-13 Business of the Year Award, for under 30 employees, by the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. Of the dozens of worthy nominees, and thousands of eligible businesses, we are humbled to have been selected. It marked the first-ever year for the Chamber award, given in recognition partly for our commitment to community, service, and the notable worthwhile causes we support – both personally and professionally. Thank you to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, and to those who nominated and supported us.

It’s What We Do

A little girl once observed, “Why does that bee spend all his time working on those flowers?”  The mom answered, “Because that’s just what he does.” It’s a point worth pondering.

In our very first post, we suggested to “Do what you love, love what you do.” Among other sentiments, it describes doing things that truly make one feel content, and making ‘work’ feel less like work. It’s a utopia we all strive for, but that few fully achieve. But it’s the drive to get there that usually keeps us all getting up each day, one step closer to whatever light is waiting at the end of the tunnel. But I would suggest there is a corollary: whatever you do, understand why you are doing it, and do it with passion. At the end of the day, we are all here to help one another. Altruistic? Not entirely; we do like getting paid now and again. But in nearly every profession – be it accountant, hospital worker, plumber, lawyer, copywriter, or comedian – we are here to help. We fix, we improve. We lighten a mood, patch a hole, or solve a problem. We generally help make a difference to someone else – somehow. Knowing the why part of our equation helps us realize our purpose, and pursue it with conviction.

I like the analogy of sand castles. Once built, they last a few hours at most, then wash back to the sea without a trace. But the experience of having made the sand castle can last a lifetime. The sand castle is fleeting, but its impression may be timeless. History books are filled with finite events with immortal consequences. So in your work, in your daily lives, think about how you are making a difference – long after the work itself is done. It is this mentality that allows us to do what we do purposefully, making a difference and sewing the seeds for future crops. Just like the bee.

Sidebar: It’s also known by researchers that a rat, when given a choice between stimulation and food, will choose stimulation to the point of exhaustion. So every now and then, put down the pen or paint brush and grab a sandwich. Low blood sugar makes for lousy creative. 😉

Say what?

Censorship is a double-edged sword. The media deals with this every minute. Some might go as far to say that to suppress freedom of expression is to limit humanity; but yet, it should come with a bit of responsibility and awareness of the consequences. Just as we should be aware our words and actions may well offend, out of decorum and compassion we may choose to be selective about what we say and when (running through a grocery store yelling the F-word – while certainly self-expression – would probably not make too many fans.)

Diversity, freedom of expression, and freedom of view are part of what makes human beings human. But as humans, we also have the right to limit our exposure. Movies can be made, records recorded, books written. Have at it. And if we choose not to watch, listen, or read, that’s also our right.

That all said, there are also lessons to be learned from society in general, and we think about this in marketing all the time. If the whole planet were to blacklist someone’s message, they might soon find themselves in a lonely place, and they might think twice about what they say and when. This also means an awareness of brand, be it personal or organizational. Crafting ones expressions appropriately is necessary if one expects to have an audience.

If we build it…

The following is a modified amalgam of popular posts from Steve’s blog, Build a Better Box.

It’s time for a barn raising. A roll-up-your-sleeves, work-up-a-sweat, grab-a-hammer-and-get-busy barn raising. Part Habitat for Humanity, part Monster Garage. Except the “humanity” is our industry, and the barn we’re raising is our craft; the thing that will feed us, shelter us, keep us sane.

Hundreds of years ago, some of my ancestors came over on the Mayflower. There were no “jobs” but plenty of work to do. They were not concerned about competition; they were concerned about collectively lending their skills and labor to prosper and grow. When one ate, they all ate. When one needed shelter, they all pitched in to build a house. They raised barns. They were a team in every sense.

Flash forward almost 400 years. A little while back, while speaking at a meeting for an industry organization, one of the questions that the group pondered was, “Why are we here?”  The group loves to network, hang out, and eat free food. But one of the primary personal agendas of nearly all networking and industry groups is, of course, to make connections and collaborations that lead to valuable and rewarding work.

I said, “Let’s play a game. It’s called ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ We are all the survivors of a massive ship wreck, a ship called The S.S. Creative Agency. The agency – in all its big-box splendor, with 15,000 feet of gleaming steel and chrome furniture, pinball machines, and door after etched glass door of offices – can no longer sustain itself and shuts down. And we are the marooned marketers and creatives washed ashore on an island. What do we do?” The silence was deafening, and hit close to home for many.

“I’ll tell you what we do: we keep creating. We create because that’s what we do. We never stop, no matter what.” It sank in – you could see it in their faces.

As restless marketers and creatives, we can’t sit still. We collaborate. We make stuff. Every day, the smartest of us raise barns. Barn raisings that say, “If we build it, they will come.”

Who’s in?

“Who are we?”

It’s one of the most often asked philosophical questions. In life, we’re continually exploring answers to this. It’s how we find our way, define our purpose, make our mark. From the moment we get up, to the moment we close each day, each of our lives is a continual pursuit of greater understanding – as often unconscious as this may be.

And this applies to business, too. After all, business is really just an organized collection of people defined by brand, guided by process, and held together by relationships.

Years back, while consulting with a major insurance provider, it was suggested that they needed to develop part of an initiative to communicate “who we are.” The audience was internal. “Sounds like a great idea”, we said. “So who are you?” Then… silence. “That’s the problem,” they replied. “We’re not sure.”

The dilemma was that this group needed to articulate their benefit to others within the organization, but yet they themselves didn’t have a well defined understanding of their own purpose. So the first task at hand was to clarify their identity and mission. Then – and only then – could they best communicate their merits to the outside.

As we go about our pursuits, we must continually be in sync with ourselves. Knowing who we are and how we fit in. But it’s also about being relentless while remaining right on the edge of contentedness. Being comfortable without complacency.

As is often said, “Do what you love, love what you do.” At gener8or, we do exactly this. We hope with each new day, you do the same.