El arte

The art of intelligent communication

Picture of Pablo Gasull

The other day I was coming home from work. As usual, I passed by the Glorieta de Ruiz Giménez, next to the San Bernardo metro station, and saw a huge advertising banner covering the entire façade of a building. It was from Cabify and summed up the company’s purpose in one word. I’ll show you a better picture, which will make it easier to understand what I’m talking about.

Intelligent communication

I don’t know what you think, but I liked it. In large, they highlight a company employee, a real one, with a face, with a name, Nicolay. They make the advertisement authentic and relatable. They also show the ratings that users have of Nicolay and summarise them in one idea, which they highlight in bold: “Excellent”. In a word, they tell you Nicolay’s story, which is none other than the story they want to tell about Cabify.

And I went home thinking, what did the nice guys in Cabify’s communication team do to make a message stand out to me so much? When does communication ever challenge the recipient so effectively? And I came to the conclusion that the key is the synthesis of a set of elements into an idea.

However, we are not simply talking here, as is often thought, about an abstract and theoretical idea, but about an idea that arouses certain feelings in us; an idea to which we cannot be indifferent. That is to say, an idea that is felt, because there is no cognition without feeling, and no feeling without cognition. As Aristotle said, reason and feeling go hand in hand: “desirous intelligence and intelligent desire”. In other words, there is no knowledge that is not affective; one knows when one is touched -affectively- by that knowledge.

Let’s put these ideas on the ground. The word “excellent” in the Cabify ad is not just an abstraction – the idea of excellence – but, together with the other elements of the ad, it is showing us something else: the quality of Nicolay’s service, his constant effort to please his customers – also when he has a bad day – or his commitment to the company he works for. One can imagine Nicolay in his day-to-day life, keeping the tourists visiting Madrid safe, putting up with the drunks coming out of the discotheque or dodging the more reckless drivers. An idea, a single word, somehow reflects a story in which several feelings come into play. In my case, I felt admiration, because I would like my clients to feel the same satisfaction as Nicolay’s clients.

Intelligent communication

“Intelligence” comes from the Latin intellegere, word composed of inter (“between”) and legere (“to read”). It means knowing how to read between the lines; getting to the bottom of an issue to bring it to the surface. In the case of the Cabify ad, squeeze the idea and realise what is behind the word “excellent”. On the other hand, “communication” also comes from Latin, from the word communicare, and this in turn from communis, which means, common, communion, participated among several. All of us can feel challenged by Nicolay, because we all share this aspiration to be better. We want, like him, to be excellent.

Back to my question, what did Cabify’s communication team do to make a message stand out to me so much? Tell me a story that we can all share in a simple idea. That is, although it may seem obvious, to communicate – to show a common experience – in an intelligent way – in a simple idea that brings together several elements.

However, let us not confuse simplicity with simplism. A simplistic idea is an empty idea, without substance, and therefore has nothing that can be read between the lines. It is therefore a stupid idea. Nor should we confuse simplicity with fixation. A good idea in communication must show dynamism, it must be subject, within limits, to interpretation. Because what I feel about Nicolay when I see that ad may be different from what you feel when you see it. I may focus on certain aspects of my life when I think of the word “excellent”, and you may focus on others. Javier Almuzara, poet and writer, sums it up well: “May the intelligence not be obstinate in a fixed idea or be dispersed in a sea of intuitions”.

In short, communicators and publicists, let us show the world good ideas; ideas with meaning and depth that can be shared, that we can share and recognise ourselves in them. Let us be that: excellent.

smart communications

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