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  • Astrid Kitchen

Five-Four-Three-Two-One - London we have launch!

Today we open the doors on what we hope is an exciting new journey into insight and research - the Global Human Insight Consultancy, One Minute to Midnight.

Some time ago the idea was conceived to create a 'thing' that better answered the insight needs of business. We didn't want to just set up an agency put our 'fabulous' names or some exotic fruit, bird or clever word-combo above the door and watch the work flood in. We've done that. We wanted to create something meaningful, something and - forgive me for using the language of the day - with a bigger purpose.

We listened to the industry chat, explored other agencies’ offerings, talked to a range of marketeers, senior ad land bods, software boffins, corporate anthropologists, innovation gurus and we think that with their help we might have come up with something.

Time and again we heard that insight and research was not doing enough. It was not being innovative, it was not producing things that were useful, it was not flexible and that people didn't know what to do with it.

Yet when we looked at the industry offering we saw a whole cacophony of innovation. Big data, new models, millions of new data analytics methods, 1,000s of new products. Visit any of the big companies’ websites and you are literally bombarded by different approaches, language, tools and widgets. The amount of innovation going on is mind blowing! Yet the people who actually use insight don't think so.

So we thought what on earth is up - why the gap? We went away and spent months trying to come up with one of our own products and toolkits (Da Vinci’s Submarine & Picassos Greenhouse... anyone?) to answer this challenge. Then suddenly over a 'flat white' whilst we were trying to find the killer insight for a global piece of work we were doing for an entertainment company there was a flash of inspiration... everyone was missing the point.

We, as an industry, had totally and I mean totally lost sight of what we are here to do.

We are not here to sell product or insight or data (well maybe some of us are). We are here to create something that business can actually use. Something that has this elusive meaning. Something that is built for purpose.

So what is this thing of meaning, this thing of purpose? Well it’s pretty basic. Ultimately we are here to provide a deep understanding of humans so that brands can best shape their relationships with humans moving forward. It is as simple as that. We and by we I mean the research and insight industry, our products, our tools, our widgets, our models are not the story. Human-brand relationships are the story!

So this was our start point. Human. Understanding humans and human relationships with the world around them, and particularly with brands. So how do we get to this point? This point of creating deep human understanding.

Well let’s look at what it means to be human. Let’s go beyond need states and occasions and type 1 and type 2 thinking and all this pseudo science guff. What does it actually mean to be human? What is being all about?

Well, being is simple. Being is 4 things.

First off, as humans we interact with the world around us. We behave. Now with behavioural economics I reckon as an industry we have got this covered. But are we just that? Are we just our behaviours? Are behaviours all we need to know about? Of course ultimately the way we act is an integral part of what we are, but it is not all that we are.

So what else are we? Well, secondly of course as humans we feel. Our emotions are very powerful things. We don't have total control of them, but they can be managed to a certain extent. As an industry some companies are recognising the power of emotion and the way it affects behaviour (a little too late some might argue) and these companies also seem to be doing so at the cost of ignoring everything else human but that's another story for another time.

So what else makes us human? Well, thirdly as humans we think. I think therefore I am and all that. Our thoughts are kind of our management system. They don't control us but they can instigate action and they observe and analyse what's going on. Thoughts are fairly easily accessed through question and answer approaches and with new technology we are getting even better at getting a handle on them when they actually happen. But as any cognitive behavioural therapist will tell you (and I've met a few) we are not only our thoughts!

So Ok Big P, we think, we feel, we act that's us right... all the bases covered. We take an approach that looks at all 3 and we are there. We understand humans, right?

Not so fast my fellow humans. Think about yourself and your own life? Are you just your actions, your thoughts and your feelings? What really guides you? What makes you decide something is good or bad? What shapes how you feel? What influences your thoughts and ultimately your behaviour? What do brands and companies bang on about all the time?

Values, principles, beliefs!!!!  They are the things that make us get up in the morning and do what we do!

The things that make us smile and feel happy when we do something or see someone else do something that is in line with them!

The things that make us angry when we see or do something that contravene them!

The thing that makes us ultimately human!

The things that make brands, err brands!

The things that guide, shape and manage human brand relationships.

The thing that is explored extensively from a brand perspective

...but almost, totally, totally ignored from a human perspective by our industry!

So that's why we got excited. That's why we are setting up this company with a funny name! To put deep human understanding at the heart of everything we do, because this is how we can provide our clients with the most meaningful and purposeful insights possible. By putting humans, their values and how they affect the way humans think, feel and act, we can enable businesses to best shape their brand-human relationships in more powerful and authentic ways.

This is not a model. This is reality and we've put our money where our mouth is. We have gone global to explore human and brand relationships and the human values approach with our biannual Dimensions Project. It’s going to be the focus of future blogs, but you can check out more on our site.

In the meantime and in the words of the great Jerry Springer, I leave you with a final thought. Maybe think about your own values, are you living them? How do they affect the way you think, feel, what you do and the relationship you have with others, the world around you and with brands. It might be enlightening.

All the best, your fellow human.

Big P, Human Wins

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