Better branding through poetry

These are my notes for a presentation of CUVPRP201A Make A Simple Creative Work as part of my assessment for a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment TAE40110.

Anyone know the poem that starts "There once was a man from Nantucket"?

It's okay, we don't need to recite it. I'm just seeing if you're familiar with the limerick format.

Limericks are often humourous poems, sometimes in ways that would make you blush. There's a clever limerick about limericks that goes:
The limerick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical
Limiericks are characterised by a five-line format with a strict AABBA rhyme scheme:
From a rhythmic point of view, lines 1, 2 and 5 have a silent accent at the end, making 4 accents per line. Lines 3 and 4 combined also have 4 accents, making four lines with an overall total of 16 accents (i.e. foot tapping "beats" ). This is why limericks can be sung to sixteen bars of 3/4 music. Reading, or reciting, naturally follows the faster rhythm of 6/8 time, making eight bars of two triplets per bar. A triplet represents a "foot" of 3 syllables.

These rules are somewhat flexible and it seems you can be excused for breaking them if you do so for a laugh, like:
There was a young man from Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked why this was,
He replied "It's because
I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever I possibly can.
Thinking of things from Japan, a somewhat similar poetry format is the haiku.

Haiku, like limericks, are short poems based on a rhyme structure. However, haiku use three-line stanzas of up to 17 syllables, arranged in a 5/7/5 format.

It's been written that the genius of haiku using an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered painting, without "telling all". Or as Matsuo Bashō puts it, "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of."

While I don't read a lot of haiku, I've always been enamoured with the economy of these poetic styles. So, to demonstrate a haiku, I'll share one of mine:

Thoughts are like fishes
in the subconscious they swim
awaiting a line

This isn't a proper haiku in many ways because the Japanese origins of the format focus on subjects of nature but there is a sense of contrasting images to display meaning in the analogy. However, I think the format is a great way of practicing language use, which is a skill for other styles for other styles of writing that focus on economy and a sense of praising the transcendental. Like branding slogans.

There are many memorable marketing slogans used to promote brands, with Nike's Just Do It or Coke's The Real Thing or Toyota's Oh What A Feeling among a few that come to mind.

I think the skills required to develop this style of tagline to the brand are similar to those used in writing poetry. You need to be economic in your use of language but, like an artist, you must also choose the right words to convey a meaning which is both reassuring without revealing too much to not be open to all sorts of aspirational interpretations.

You must choose words which denote and connote appropriate meaning and a thesaurus will assist.

Once you begin the process, however, it will require commitment. Where people like myself often write poems for amusement, undertaking the work of summarising the flavour of a brand will mean collaborating.

You must also be prepared to allow others to shape your work. You'll need to research the response it generates and ensure the information you're trying to communicate is being understood.

And, furthermore, you'll need to ensure that those you're working with share the same vision. Feedback from these key people will be required to successfully craft a brand tagline. There's an English proverb success has many fathers, failure is an orphan that I think is worth reflecting on.

In short, short format poetry is a great way to develop skills for language use and a great exercise to start thinking about taglines, like those used in branding. These summaries can convey a lot of meaning, through both denotative and connotative language -- both the literal meaning and the inferred meaning.

Poetry is valuable in many ways and I think Harrison Young explains this best:
Poetry is full of metaphor, and metaphor is where one thing means another, it is saying two things at once. And this to my mind is like reality, there are often two aspects. Or more.