You don’t need an event. you need an idea.

More than an event or experience or any communications, you need an idea.

As a business that creates events, experiences and communications business, why would I say that? Surely if you’re wanting an event, you just need a conducive environment, some shiny technology and some on-brand graphics, don’t you? Why would you need an idea?

In short, if you’re wanting to change the way people feel, think and ultimately, behave, then an idea is very helpful. And an event, experience, film, poster etc. is the delivery mechanism (albeit potentially very powerful ones when used correctly).

The human brain is incredibly adept at blocking out information and communication. Ideas are Trojan horses we use to deliver our message. Ideas are how the brain parcels up information; they are ingrained into our psyche and inhabit our culture as memes, stories, legends and archetypes.

Brands are ideas; so are memories. If we can frame our experiences as ideas we are engaging the audience the way their brains work. Ideas create experiences the audience will remember; experiences they want to share.

And ideas live in the mind of your audience. Isn’t that wonderful? You can give them something. It’s not yours, it’s theirs. And if it’s theirs, they’ll actually believe it and do something about it, including share it.

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient... highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate.”

I hate to quote a movie, but this line in the acclaimed Christopher Nolan film, Inception, sums up the power of ideas very neatly.

An idea being a virus is an idea in itself, but a very emotive one, here shared in an almost visceral way (Nolan is really rather good at this). Ideas that take hold usually aren’t rational facts. They can be supported – justified - by facts but an emotionally based idea is much more resilient and persuasive (Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s work is a relevant read here). So when we’re talking about ideas, we’re not talking about an idea to “use VR”, for example; we’re talking about an idea that changes how you view your world and how you act within it. Ideas that connect to something the consumer believes to be true.

The Brexit campaign is a great example of an idea taking hold: Take Back Control. The Trump campaign also deployed an idea into the minds of millions: Make America Great Again. That idea made total sense to the millions of people who are working hard to stand still; it made them think Trump could bring back the American Dream for them. Sod the policies, sod reality…just give me my dream.

Ideally, you’ll have the “policies” or facts to support your idea. Otherwise you’ve effectively lied, and that will come back to bite you. So perhaps Guinness is a better example: “Good things come to those who wait”. Here was an idea that already existed in the minds of the British population, and one that made the wait for a pint of Guinness not just bearable, but a benefit. The genius was in appropriating an idea that was already in the minds of the audience – very clever indeed, but one that required the exquisite execution of Britain’s favourite ever TV commercial, Surfer.

So, this points to a need for emotive ideas to be delivered in order (1) last beyond the event or experience itself, and (2) create a genuine change in your audience’s behaviour. And, of course, the idea must be delivered with impact and brilliance to maximize its potential.

I could go on, but if you’re to take one thing away from these few paragraphs, take this: supercharge your event, experience and communications with an idea. (See what I did there?)

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