Can squiggles on a whiteboard define your company? Ask UPS.

Can squiggles on a whiteboard define your company? Ask UPS.

Am I the only one who gets mesmerized by those ultra-simple UPS commercials? Apparently not, according to Slate’s Seth Stephenson, who gives a great behind-the-scenes look at those ads here. (You can watch the whole series of UPS spots here.)
Simple images capture our attentionYou can’t take your eyes off them. There’s something about all that white space, and the guy’s mastery of the dry erase marker, and the quick, simple stories he tells. It’s hard to look away. (The long-haired guy, by the way, is not an actor, but Andy Azula, the creative director of the ad campaign. Bravo, Andy.)

Other companies are trying a similar approach. “Companies are increasingly using simple pictures to distill complicated concepts into easily shared, easily remembered nuggets,” says Fast Company in a piece called The Napkin Sketch. FC quotes Tuft’s Neil Cohn, a researcher in cognitive psychology and linguistics at Tufts University:

“Graphic expression and visual thinking are a central part of human cognition… These ideas are spreading from how companies sell what they do — as in UPS’s “Whiteboard” ad campaign — to plotting strategy.”Will write for $

Just for laughs, my wife, who’s a talented artist, did a quick sketch of me when I first hung out my shingle as a freelance copywriter in March, 2001. I was amazed. It was quick and funny — the T-shirt reads “Will Write for $.” It’s also probably closer to the “real me” than anything a brand artist could come up with.

I’ve never shown it publicly before, but if quick and simple sketches are the latest thing in branding, maybe now it’s time.

What do you think? Is it too silly and frivolous for an (ahem) “professional” like myself? Or should I start using it as part of my identity and brand? Tell me in the comments. I really would appreciate your input.

  1. Marcella SowerbyMarcella Sowerby04-23-2008

    Tom,
    I think you should use your wife’s sketch as part of your Branding.
    Because i know you, it does look like you, and is actually very creative.
    which is what your company is all about, right?
    Marcella

  2. Tom McKayTom McKay04-24-2008

    Hi Marcella,

    Thanks for your comment. That’s one vote in favor.

    So if some stranger walked into your office with a business card that looked like this, you wouldn’t throw him out? 🙂

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