The Planners Guide to Visual Thinking #9 – Re-wild Your Brand


Written By: Bhavin Pabari and Jonathan McConnell (guest writers)

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Following on from the initial BAMM post about re-wild, BAMM has invited our guest writers, Bhavin and Jonathan, Planners at Grey London who joined us last week for our BAMM Academy training programme. They share with the Planning community some of their learnings from the time here with us, as well as their take on how Planners can approach Re-wild for the brands they work on.

At the edges of culture, we are starting to see more of a desire for wildness and serendipity in people’s lives. We all desire a chance to break out from our routine and experience something new. For example, people have the desire to throw themselves out a plane and risk their lives; in the past two years, British Parachute Association has grown to its largest ever membership base.


Only a year ago, this man could have thought that jumping off a plane wouldn’t be his idea of fun

We can take some cues from the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who split culture into the Universe of Discourse and the Universe of the Undiscussed.

The universe of discourse consists of heterodoxy (the safe conversations that confirm what you know and believe) and orthodoxy (the acceptable conversations in culture that happen around accepted beliefs).

The universe of the undiscussed is where the unsaid and unexperienced lives. The illicit conversations about how people really feel. The unusual experiences that happen on the fringes of culture.

Trump’s traction comes from his talent in speaking what no one had said before – and a lot of people would love to hear

Most brands products and communications circulate in the Universe of Discourse – what we see on the front pages of newspapers, read on Facebook feeds and consume through our TV. It’s the safe space for brands to speak to consumers.

However the power for brands is to create communications and experiences in the universe of the undiscussed, the cultural silence that exists where no discourse is taking place.

This is the Wild for brands and advertisers.

This is where you need to get people to build a flying machine to launch off a pier like Red Bull did with Flugtag. This is where you need to say that a chocolate bar is not for girls, like Yorkie.

Yorkie started to put some truths out there, just to provoke more women to buy the brand

How can planners encourage our clients to move from discourse of the Discussed into The Undiscussed? How can you best explore the Wild?

Whom to Discuss The Undiscussed with?

Clients often have a strong, prescriptive idea of how to construct their consumer research around their target segment. But it’s easy to find people to re-inforce your hypothesis.

If you shoot for the people at the centre of the target every time, are you going to get any variety in the answers you receive?

Ask the question when you’re looking at recruitment for your research: are there any people who live at the fringes of your consumer base that can give you a closer insight into where your category’s wild places lie?

Who are the people repurposing your jeans; building modifications to your software app; or using your lip balm as face paint? Why have they not been influenced by the same unspoken rules as everyone else, and what can you learn from it?

How to Discuss The Undiscussed?

If you’re trying to identify The Undiscussed, don’t underestimate the power of silence.

When interviewing respondents, we unconsciously give cues to lead the conversation back towards the safe spaces. We fixate on making on them feel comfortable to engender a feeling of trust.

We prompt them with pieces of existing advertising we’ve seen and make reference to bits of widely experienced culture.

Instead of simply focusing on getting them to say something, weaponise silence. To get to the heart of what a respondent is really thinking, rather than what is easiest for them to say, leave a blank canvas for them to fill in.

Additionally, it’s worth considering whether the traditional focus group format is going to best bring these answers to life for you.

Are there other, more immersive, methods – such as ethnography or video diaries – that can better tease out the differences between the discourse of what people are saying, and what people are actually doing?

Re-wilding Your Brand

Once you get a sense of how to unpick the unspoken assumptions, how do you best set about deconstructing them?

Is it a question of taking the insight to the client and building it into product development?

Do you need to leverage new channels and new ways of speaking to address a new audience, or your own audience in a different way?

Do you need to reassess the brand character and positioning you’ve been trying to force onto your consumers?

By better interrogating your planning process, you can re-wild your brand – leading to new experiences, new conversations and more powerful communications.

The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares that will wake them into more passionate world’ J. G. BALLARD

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