I just remove everything that is not the elephant.
A tourist walks into a store that sells wooden elephants. Hundreds and hundreds of wooden elephants. All looking identical. The carver is in the store working on one of his creations. The tourist is amazed at the carver’s dexterity and skill and asks him – “how do you do this? How do you carve such perfect-looking elephants. And with so much ease.” The carver shrugs and responds – “I first pick up a block of wood. Then I remove everything that’s not the elephant.”
I heard this story long long back. And have no clue of the origin of the story. But it stayed with me forever. I see the best brands and companies in the world doing this – having the clarity of knowing who they are not. Brand consultants usually advise brands to figure out what you are. It’s equally important to know what you are not. An awareness of what you are not helps save a company/brand/person from making expensive experimental mistakes. And focusses the entire team on sticking to the path laid out by the brand.
When Arun, Vineet and I first started dreaming up Spring, we also pushed ourselves to dream up Unspring. What we are not. What we will never do. This actually turned out to be a lot more difficult. It’s tough to commit to the doors that you will close. And that’s why it’s important to do this.
So here goes. At great risk to ourselves and knowing that we will be answerable for our subsequent actions, to our team and partners and believers, here’s what we are not. Here’s UnSpring for you:
- We are not an advertising agency. We are a skin-in-the-game marketing and creative consultancy that wants to go all-in with founders; believe in their vision and help make it come alive.
- We are not a company that brings a singular tone and voice to everything we do. Sounds shocking? Actually, it shouldn’t. We will do what it takes to make our partner brands succeed and couldn’t care less about having a thumbprint in all our work. In fact, if you can’t make out that it’s a Spring piece of work, that works for us perfectly.
- We don’t earn more money when our partner company spends more money. We take no joy in big marketing budgets and believe that marketing plans should match brand/business objectives that vary from time to time. We are media agnostic.
- We have no communication agenda when we meet a new founder and brand. If the solution is a PR idea, so be it. If it’s a proposition statement, then that’s what we will seek to create.
- We are not turned on by the bigness of the company or the size of the marketing budget. We love big dreams. We love new challenges. We love partnering with founders and marketing teams who want to make a dent in their world. We would love to help them make that dent.
- We don’t have big egos. We are happy to accept our mistakes and failures. And we do have them. Our intent/agenda is always aligned with the founders and management teams we work with. And we do our best to see them succeed. But we don’t have a magic formula to succeed every single time.
- We are not an army. We will never be. Small is beautiful. Small allows us to be bold. Small allows us to say ‘No’ more often.
- We like ‘No’. We say it often. Hear it back often too. We respect the word, we respect the intent behind it.
- We are not interested in speculative pitching. The reason is simple – we believe in going all in. And speculative work does not allow us to do so.
- We are also not a constant. Our thinking and views evolve. If you met us last year, we would have sung a different tune. Next year, we will sing something new again. Our core philosophy remains the same but the expression and application has to be dynamic. For us and for all the founders who believe in us.
Give us a shout if you are carving out your own personal elephant. If you are looking to find the ‘Un’ for your brand. We would love to help.