On Friday my husband took me to Ronnie Scott’s as a birthday treat. Very nice indeed.
We agreed a time to meet nearby, my husband was late. Lateness is something he is consistently good at. I’ve stood in B&Q for an hour waiting for him, I’ve waited at train stations, restaurants and theatre performances.
Hell, on our first date he left me waiting in a pub for 30 minutes before he showed up.
Time surprises him.
He arrives with a flourish of train woes, conversations that ran over or traffic dilemmas. Each time it is as if he’s never been late before and the universe has confounded him in creative and unexpected ways to delay his arrival.
He is genuinely perplexed.
My husband is a creative. His job is to look at the world with positivity, optimism and wonder. He routinely comes home with work he has done that makes me look on in awe. This is exacerbated by the fact that he is a digital creative, so not only does it look beautiful but it also baffles the mind with its techy awesomeness.
He’s perpetually late but his excuses are the stuff of dreams.
“I wore some new shoes which can in hindsight be only referred to as hellishly uncomfortable. I had to shuffle from Cannon Street trying to minimize the blood flow from my ankle to avoid an early death due to blood loss.”
I walk the line between anguish and anticipation always.
I am a planner. I’m usually on time for stuff. Before every meeting I anticipate a major disaster, a traffic jam and an act of God, all conspiring in one heinous transport nightmare and preventing me from getting to where I am going.
If the end of the world occurs between now and 2.30pm when I’m supposed to meet you, I will have had a damn good crack at still getting there on time, regardless of the circumstances.
In my husband’s world, the present is always more important than the future. What is happening right now in this second always takes precedent over some unknown future you can’t control. If your world is to create things that people will notice and enjoy you have to think in micro-seconds, not days, months and years.
Planners I know are a lot more like me. Realistic to the point of slightly skeptical and always looking for evidence. Unlike Sam, I deal in how people behave over time, taking the long view – what might happen next year or maybe even in 5 years.
Normal people are much more like creative people. Normal people deal in now not the future. It is something behavioural economists like to call the ‘present bias’.
When weighing up future events, most people will almost always choose the one where the reward comes sooner.
It is why we eat a chocolate bar instead of going to the gym. Why you might maybe accept another pint instead of going to meet your wife because you strongly believe in your head that 5 minutes should cover a journey to the other side of town.
The future is always good as long as you only think about the next couple of minutes.
Brands think people are like planners. Brands tend to assume people think about things a lot. That when we stand at a fixture and make a choice, that we are assessing the choices we make deeply and are considering not just now but our future selves. It is also why brands tend to over-message. Why have 1 benefit when you can have 10?
But the reality is that people are optimists.
If it feels right, it probably is right. If it looks tasty and delicious now well that’s better than being healthy and thin tomorrow.
Brands are wrong. People are like creatives.