- said Zsa, as she plonked her bag down on the desk before introducing me to her fellow creatives.
Zsa is the wonderful specimen behind The Yes Project. After having read each other’s blogs, we decided to step into the shoes of each other’s lives for a day. Firstly, because that’s something Zsa hasn’t done before and secondly, because it allowed me to pick up some stompies from her life. So on Monday this week I went to Red & Yellow with Zsa and yesterday Zsa came to UCT with me (read about her side of the story here).
Although there are a few similarities between the two (they both have students and are centred around learning), they are very different. Where one is steeped in theory, logic and ‘academic-ness’, the other revolves around being super practical, collaborative and engaging (I’m sure you can take a guess at which one is which). To put it in the words of Red & Yellow…the one speaks very much to the ‘logical’ side of the brain, whilst the other brings ‘magic’ to life.
Much to my delight, we spent the day brainstorming at Red & Yellow - throwing out ideas to see if they would boomerang back as solutions. The brain itself has always fascinated me. I used to spend hours as a child just thinking about thinking. I lie, I still spend hours just thinking about thinking. The very fact that some squishy pink/brown mush can control not only movement but life, at the same time as conceptualizing an idea…fascinates me. Where does the idea sit in that mush of muscle? How is it that as we brainstorm…an idea suddenly pops out? Was it there all the time and then the question just brought it to the surface? And how could the idea already be there if the question was not yet asked? If you sit and think about this for long enough, it becomes a real mind fart and you’re left not knowing how you thought in the first place.
I had thought for a while that perhaps I would solve this issue by becoming a brain surgeon. I would then get the opportunity to learn more about the brain and perhaps understand it a bit better. But that idea was quickly shoved back into wherever it popped out from when I wasn’t accepted into UCT Medical School (I should have known that being a brain surgeon isn’t something you just casually walk into). So UCT’s Business Science Marketing degree was pretty much my second option…but I’m so glad it was. When you think about it (sorry, a lot of thinking going on here), marketing is all about the brain. Not only because it orchestrates the position a brand holds in the mind of consumers, but because every marketing interaction is aimed at communicating and connecting with the consumer’s brain. That’s what makes them decide to spend or not spend money on your product or service at the end of the day. Needless to say, I was profoundly happy when this epiphany struck as I entered my final year of Marketing. Perhaps I could become a ‘brain surgeon’ after all…just not as hectic and without having to wear scrubs everyday.
Brainstorming with Zsa confirmed my epiphany. As much as the practical, magical environment of Red & Yellow differs to the structured, sometimes lethargic, life of lectures…both are centred on learning how the consumer thinks. And as difficult as that is to decipher, it is necessary to get the consumer’s brain to go from not knowing to knowing and from not buying to buying. It would be nice (and incredibly entertaining) to be able to do this by sitting on a bench somewhere in the brain and just watching as thoughts hustle and bustle about. But since brain-watching isn’t quite a thing yet…I think the best way to do this is to keep putting ourselves in the consumer’s shoes – ‘swapping lives’ so to speak. Trying to see what they see and think how they think. It really is quite enjoyable – even if it is just for a day.