Hello all,

This week’s article looks at how brands can and should adapt to changes in their markets, in their consumers, and among their competitors. Change too much, and you’re constantly eroding what makes your brand distinctive; change too little, and you risk losing relevance.

I think there’s a great way of thinking about this, and it comes from buildings – which have to adapt in similar ways.

This week’s article

The shearing layers of brands

Brands are strange things. Everything about branding involves keeping things the same: the same logos, the same colours, the same zingy lines. But everything about the real world involves adaptation to changing circumstances. How do you decide what to flex and what to fix? What happens at the different layers of brands, from the most static to the most dynamic?

Click here to read the article »

This week’s six interesting links

Wordle, 15 Million Tweets Later

A comprehensive statistical analysis of the Wordle phenomenon, which I for one am still hooked on, by Robert Lesser.

In particular, Lesser explores whether people are less likely to Tweet their Wordle score when it’s poor, which he’s able to do by looking at the rate of tweets vs an objective scoring of the difficulty of the words:

“A common saying about sharing in the internet age is that social media is a highlight reel. People only post their best moments.

“Does this apply to Wordle? Are people less likely to share their mediocre performances or failures?

“Here’s one way to approach the question. If people are less likely to share their results when they do poorly, we would expect fewer people to do so on days with harder Wordle answers.”


How Putin’s Oligarchs Bought London

A timely piece from Patrick Radden Keefe on London’s facilitation of dodgy Russian wealth:

“The stark implication of ‘Putin’s People’ is not just that the President of Russia may be a silent partner in one of England’s most storied sports franchises but also that England itself has been a silent and handsomely compensated partner in Putin’s kleptocratic designs – that, in the past two decades, Russian oligarchs have infiltrated England’s political, economic, and legal systems. ‘We must go after the oligarchs,’ Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared after the invasion of Ukraine, doing his best to sound Churchillian. But, as the international community labors to isolate Putin and his cronies, the question is whether England has been too compromised by Russian money to do so.”

Keefe leans heavily on Oliver Bullough in the piece; his books Moneyland and the recently published Butler to the World are both brilliantly depressing. #

The Rule of Pints

Common-sense thinking from Josh Barrie:

“Next we come to one of the foremost junctures in the rule of pints: having two pints doesn’t exist. To have two pints would be a waste of time. It would be to fail oneself.

“To clarify, two pints is nonsense behaviour of the highest order. What is the point? Let’s examine the proposition before a more abstract and meandering deliberation – after two pints, you are not even nearly inebriated. But you are a bit drowsy and sluggish, probably, and you’ll definitely need the loo on the way home. Two pints is a suggestion of three, one of the best quantities of pints, and yet isn’t three at all. It’s two.

“Two pints is the amount drunk by bosses who are trying to fit in with their workers at the pub, staying for 35 minutes or so to seem like they care but leaving before actually committing to any semblance of an evening; it’s a ‘oh go on then’ to peer-pressuring pals before’ driving home illegally; it’s trying to make time for ‘one more’ when there simply isn’t time and having a whisky or rum alongside the first pint would have served perfectly; it’s queuing up at the football for too long and then missing a goal; it’s thinking two before dinner will be okay and then having to go to the loo three times before pudding and everyone thinking you have diabetes or worse; it’s a waste of time because it’s almost impossible not to have two without having three, and in any case it’s almost certainly illegal because of some medieval code.”


Being Mid-Career Sucks: The Context Crisis

A great insight from Tom Critchlow: when you’re mid-career, neither at the top nor the bottom of organisations, many of your struggles come from a lack of context. You know enough to benefit from that context, but you aren’t in a position in the organisation where you – or even the people who are assigning you work – have it.

“As someone who gets given a request from someone more senior - it’s crucial to remember that the more context you are given, the better your work will be.

“Asking for context is being good at your job, not being needy and ineffective.

“And said another way, if you’re managing people you should be providing as much context as you can:

“Providing context makes you a good manager, it’s not micromanaging.”


A semblance of understanding

A thoughtful post from Tom MacWright on note-taking:

“You can feel like you understand something without knowing anything about it, and you can understand something without feeling like you do. Both are problematic. Creating notes and other symbols of knowledge is a way to affect that balance.

“Maybe the real metacognition isn’t about having a mirror image of your brain encoded in a computer, but just having a mirror. Having a nice birch box filled with notebooks or a nice dense graph that symbolizes all the things you’ve noted, so that you can learn and forget comfortably. The world will always be too big to understand, but my box of notebooks, that I know.”


J. Kenji López-Alt Says You’re Cooking Just Fine

A lovely interview with J. Kenji López-Alt in the New Yorker. Kenji’s long been one of my favourite food writers for his work demolishing myths and improving techniques on Serious Eats.

I particularly like his distinction between recipes and techniques. It’s deceptively simple, but it applies in lots of disciplines – not just cooking:

“The technique is something that has wide applications. It’s a method, as opposed to a recipe, which is just the one thing. If I ask my phone, ‘How do I get from here to the post office?,’ it gives me a recipe to the post office. I can just stare at my phone and see how many feet I have to walk this way, which way I turn, and then I get to the post office. Whereas learning a technique is like being handed the map. It allows you to choose other destinations – it allows you to choose alternate routes. That’s basically the difference to me: a recipe is turn-by-turn directions, a technique is a map.”