Down West for the week last week – The Dorset and Zummerzet coasts have never looked lovelier…
Came across an interesting site last week, essentially a direct-sales operation for a DIY brewing device:
What’s interesting? It’s the first site I’ve come across that’s basically an ad on a loop: the offer, reduced to its barest essentials and presented using a handful of slick images and a few carefully-chosen words. The onus being on the browser to dig, if they want to find out more.
It brought to mind a project from maybe 30 years back, working on a brochure for Michael Peters Design, who’d recently done a retail project in Japan for a top British clothing brand. In stark contrast to Japan’s then-ubiquitous practice of stuffing every available cm of space with goods, the designers had used a stand for a single jacket or a shirt, a shelf for a pair of cufflinks. The ‘standout’ from the usual clutter instantly established a singular look and feel: one of calm, confidence and sheer class.
Less, as they were once fond of saying, is indeed very often more.
Delighted t’other day to stumble across this letter from the Times, sent to me once by a friend:
Some years back I dated an American who was a graduate student at the Sorbonne. When in France, he would try to improve his conversation skills by attending American movies with French subtitles.
One, a Western, featured a cavalry officer and his men charging up a hill where the Indians and their chief waited silently. The officer greeted the chief who raised his hand and said: “How!” This was translated in the subtitles as “Enchanté”.
Skimming the shelves for a book I wanted to lend my daughter, I was delighted to rediscover ‘The meaning of Tingo’, which trawls ‘the collective wisdom of over 154 languages’ for words and expressions unique to that language. For example:
Plimpplamppletteren (Dutch) – skimming stones across water
Areodjarekput (Inuit) – to swap wives just for a few days
Anaranjear (Spanish) – to throw oranges at someone
We all know someone guilty of ‘neko-neko‘ – Indonesian for ‘one who has a creative idea that only makes things worse’, while the titular ‘Tingo‘ is apparently Easter Islandish for ‘to take all the objects one desires from the house of a friend, one at a time, by asking to borrow them’.
Enjoyable recent WIRED article on Standard Life Aberdeen’s rebrand as ‘abrdn’.
“Wolff Olins global CEO Sairah Ashman stresses that the fund house “had already developed a name to work with” before her team was brought on board.”
‘stresses’ is priceless! (“You writing this down?”)
Peter Matthews from brand consultancy Nucleus came up with the pithy “It must have been a breeze to trade mark and register domains.”
Presumably abrdn CEO Stephen Bird was ultimately responsible for the ‘already developed’ name, which suggests a headline rather more to the point than the one used: Bird lays egg.
Stewart Steel, strategy director at agency Good says “in five days no one will care about the name”, but I think he’s wrong. I reckon this will hang round abrdn’s corporate neck like a rotting albatross corpse until someone – Bird’s successor, like as not – does the necessary.
All in all, an object lesson in Rebranding: How Not To do it.
Oh, those monosyllables….
And from The Prince of Darkness himself… “The last 11 general elections read ‘lose, lose, lose, lose, Blair, Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose, lose’.”
I noticed even Deliveroo getting in on the act, with hoardings at the FA Cup Final bearing the brilliant line:
FOOD. WE GET IT.
Deliveroo somehow managing to come across as both a mate and a trusty servant in just four words and two full stops. Bet their drivers/riders had a busy half time…
Rereading Fire & Fury – Michael Wolff’s eye-popping account of life in the Trump White House – I came across a word I’d not encountered before:
‘Masher’? What’s a masher? Google to the rescue:
Excellent word! And the first I think I’ve come across where UK English has no synonym. The nearest I can think of are Terry Thomas type pre-war stuff: a cad, a bounder and the like. But none are as specific as the American term, denoting as they do a chap who’s a bit of a bad egg generally, rather than one who ‘mashes’ women.
Let’s hear it for the vigorous continuing growth of the language. Hoorah!