Contradiction is fair game in brand storytelling.

When I first saw Shekar Kapoor’s speech on TED, I though it was genius. But I had only caught a few nuggets that I’ve been tweeting as they wander around in my brain.

I just saw his speech again and this time, I really understood his perspective on what harmony is about. He is talking in context of story telling but I believe it applies to the creative process for brand building, design and business in general.

He never says but rather assumes that harmony is what we need to look for in a creation , not perfection. (That is genius right there).

He explains that harmony is not about seeking resolution, it is more about the acceptance of contradiction. A good story is told at many different levels and it is OK if the elements of the story do not jive together perfectly. Every loophole does not have to be closed. Even in some of the great Hollywood movies, the creators compromise the intellectual quality just to provide a complete resolution at the end.

We, the agency folks, do the same thing only at a much stricter level. Because of the noise and competition out there, we have gone crazy with  ‘follow the brand guidelines’ thing. We are not being creative, we are just being the brand police. Sad. As Shekar says, “We prepare too much. We think too much. Knowledge becomes a weight upon wisdom.”

NIKE. Just do it.  — Think of all the levels this line plays at; emotional, political, mystical, good, bad, … who care? Let it be. That is the acceptance of contradiction. That is harmony. That is genius.

Here is Shekar’s speech. If you have not seen the movie Elizabeth and you do not have 21 minutes, you can skip the first few minutes: