Branding consultancy The Clearing wonders, is our role to make people want things, or to make things people want?

Will people pay $1,000 for the new iPhone X? Almost certainly. Until last week, we had no idea that animojis existed. Pretty soon, Millennials everywhere will wonder how people ever communicated without them. As Apple celebrates the 10th anniversary of the iPhone launch, it seems a good time to reflect on how desire is created in the 21st Century. Is the age of the iPhone a case study in identifying and meeting hitherto unmet needs? Or is it possible that the world would have been just as happy a place without Siri, animojis and haptic displays?

The age of the…

Commissioning an illustrator, artist or photographer has to be one of the most exciting parts of a brand project — for designers and brands alike. It’s the chance to tap up some serious outside talent and involve individuals whose minds work a little differently, who have honed their skills with over 10,000+ hours of experimenting.

I was reminded of this by a billboard for Hunter Boots near my house the other day, which featured the work of illustrator Hattie Stewart. It’s a campaign which used a commission to fantastic effect — it quickly made me connect mud with musicians, music…

“Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent, personified in this case by a ‘orrible c***, me.” Brick Top, from Guy Ritchie’s Snatch (2000). Nemeses exist both on the big screen and in real life, but when it comes to brands it’s not always as simple as good versus evil and it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom.

As a brand strives to maintain rational and emotional relationships with its customers, their nemesis can appear in various shapes and sizes. For Nokia it’s complacency. For Waterstones it’s Amazon. And for Gap, it…

Who’s more inspiring, Shakespeare or your colleagues? We wrote a sonnet about who to turn to for inspiration, when we’re trying to develop a new product or idea.

Oh dark night, you last longer than the morn

and longer than my longing for the light.

For I am not the one who stays unborn,

I will open any door as I write.

Exploring paths I search for ground anew,

but English rain makes paths of muddy mess.

For destinations cannot give review

their guess of fresh leads nothing to impress.

So whilst the path is all but clear, I sit.

Imagine, innovate, inspire, express… just what is the elusive force that is creativity?

The problem with creativity is that it’s so difficult to define. Agencies search for it, clients demand it, but none of us knows exactly what it is — just that we want more of it. Luckily, The Clearing’s MD Richard Buchanan reckons he’s got a handle on this destructive, sweet-talking, emotional magpie of a concept.

There’s that word again. You know the one. Clients keep asking for it. The thing that keeps you up late at night. The holy grail we all search for but that often…

We’ve been starting conversations with big brands to get them thinking about what really makes their brands tick. Wild Cards are 100 questions designed to get fun, healthy debates going, launched last month with a panel of industry leaders including McLaren, Google and Ocado at an event called ‘The Secret Life of Brands’. Robert Rowland Smith, a philosopher from our Wild Cards partner The School of Life, picked out different cards and subjected the panelists to a gruelling hour of questions. …

KPMG seems convinced we are on the cusp of a banking revolution. It’s most recent report on UK challenger banks considers that, over the next decade, our banking sector “won’t have changed — it will be completely re-invented”.

A new breed of digital challenger — think Atom to Monzo to ClearBank to Starling — seems poised to offer a more personalised, transparent, intelligent way for us to manage our money. …


Why, if women make 85% of the consumer decisions, do 85% of us feel under-represented, and under-estimated, in marketing? And what does that say about the associated challenges and opportunities ahead?

It’s a complex conversation, but one I often have both professionally and personally as a female strategy director for a brand consultancy. And I think there are two things at the heart of the issue.

Firstly, women are over-stereotyped. No fresh news here, but women are most often defined relationally. We’re the mother, the best friend, the good girl — even the bad girl. …


If you haven’t heard, ASOS have announced plans to launch their ASOS Rewards loyalty scheme. At first glance, the scheme behaves like many others. In fact, like the Nectar card, you get 5 points for each £1 spent.

But look deeper and you’ll see that ASOS has thought outside the basket. Card holders can collect points by engaging with the brand across online social platforms. In effect, ASOS Rewards has developed a socially-enhanced loyalty scheme — part of a small set of next generation loyalty programmes like Jet Blue’s True Blue.

With 60% of the e-tailer’s traffic coming through…

I’m sitting on a train as it screeches gratuitously to a halt having barely left the platform. It’s nearly 9pm and the starkly lit carriage is half empty. Across from me is an urbane fellow in his early 30s — that stony expression so popular with commuters etched on his face.

His baritone voice projects — I can’t help but avoid snippets of his phone conversation. Phrases like: “I accept that,” “I’ll manage her expectations” and “They certainly didn’t indicate that in the email”.

Now I think about it, all this jargon could get annoying. Four stops to go —…

The Clearing

The Clearing is an independent brand consultancy, creating clear & defendable territory for clients. Voted UK's no1. brand consultancy by The Drum Network.

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