Believe me

‘To thine own self be true’ runs the line above the old Conway Hall stage in Holborn where this month we attended a conference on Truth.

Put on by the wonderful team at ‘Watch Me Think’, the event - ‘Avoiding liars, lies and charlatans in your quest for the truth & trust’ - was packed, timely and thought-provoking.

Much quoted, beautifully and poetically phrased the line itself is spoken by Polonius to Claudius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

It’s a way of saying that nothing at all matters more to how we should act than our own esteem. It says that we should stick to our principles, not assimilate, and that we should do what we believe.

Never has there been a greater need to explore these ideas - and in a perfect setting.

History sidebar: Conway Hall opened in 1929 celebrating Moncure Conway anti-slavery advocate, out-spoken supporter of free thought and biographer of Thomas Paine. The Hall is a hub for free speech and independent thought, for suffragettes, political radicals, scientists, philosophers, artists, performers, campaign, charities and other non-profit organisations.

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A truly marvellous place.

We listened and learnt about how truth is presented, used, abused, exploited, created, celebrated, personally and professionally, in the brain, in the Self, at its best, at its worst, from a range of experts working in the field.

We heard from experts in market research, brand, marketing, brand consultancy, politics, journalism, self-help, global shopping insight experts, AI technology, programming, neurolinguistics, advertising planning, Alice Sherwood, author of Authenticity, and a personal experience on finding one’s own truth in the corporate world.

No one faked it.

So, 11 speakers on the importance of truth in today’s world. You know the background themes: AI, division politics, 24/7 news cycle, real life/digi life reality, consumer/category/market/company truths, the nature of insight industry, language, brand stories (they sound like fiction) and much more.

It turns out we can have too much truth.

The importance of truth

You’d think we shouldn’t have to spell it out. But look at the world!

Without the truth, there can be no real morality, justice, equality, unity, success, freedom, love, security, peace, spirituality – maybe even survival.

And yes, brand success. What is a brand’s truth and can it be trusted.

As Chief Tinkerer and CEO of Watch Me Think, let’s share Alistair Vince's headlines and summaries here:

How to spot the lies

We were told to look out for people who try very hard to convince you with a lot of unnecessary detail. However, people can be nudged towards honesty with social proof, reminders to do so and “watching eyes”.

Context is king

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Not everyone lies deliberately. Context is king and can influence what people perceive to be true. We were presented with the 2007 Washington Post feature, Pearls Before Breakfast, where one of the world's finest violin virtuosos played in a DC subway at rush hour. He earnt a measly $32.17 and was largely ignored. In a deeper dive into context, we were flagged consensus, language and scale as all playing a role.

Whilst explaining the anatomy of a con, writer Alice Sherwood told us that the most important part is context. As long as you look the part and are where you’re meant to be, you can get away with scary amounts.

We were encouraged to build teams with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. Because those experiences, that context, will shape their truth and allow for better, broader thinking.

Lies and market research

Alistair Vince spoke about lies in Market Research and what we can do about them. He talked through the rise of fraud, the examples seen and what to ask agencies.

He also encouraged us to consider whether our mix of methods is giving us the best chance of getting to the truth. Are we communicating that truth honestly? And are our organisations set up to hear that truth?

Communicating the truth

Telling the truth isn’t always a comfortable thing to do, especially if you discover something against conventional wisdom.

People hate being wrong. But they like to learn something new. Breadcrumb the answer and let people find it. But at what point does spinning a positive become lying?  Easy. If you’re not willing to add a source to the "truth", then you’re on the wrong side of the line.

The panel also discussed how, when getting to the truth, not everything can be done in a quick, cheap or agile way. Similarly, when explaining how the internet became such a disinformation dystopia, it was explained that one of the reasons journalism is in a pickle is because it’s hard to do good, well researched work when people expect stories for free online.

Cole Moreton shared a truly excellent tale of when he interviewed Scarlett Johansson. It taught him to get out of the way of the truth by recognising his own agenda. The more you get out of the way, the more they can say what they want to. Otherwise, you’ll miss the point that’s right in front of you.

All in all, an esteemed panel indeed of experts: Alice Sherwood, Patrick Fagan, Dan Thwaites, Adrianne Carter, Sandie Dilger, James Pickles, Sally Henderson, Martyn Atkins, Megan Goodwin, Mark Whalley Keith Sleight, Katie Angier, Cole Moreton and of course Alistair Vince.

The truth about luxury brands

We can tell you all about it.

Honestly. We’ve been doing for a long time.

London based luxury marketing consultancy Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. Whether it’s insight from research, strategic brand thinking, a new brand name and logo design, messaging, online and offline content or website development, we help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution.

We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.

You can read more about us here.

To get in touch do drop us an email. We'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually to discuss your brief.

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