Four candles and two soups. Two short phrases to sum up two of the great comedy talents lost in the last few weeks, Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood. Never mind the fact that between them they had nearly 150 years of experience, a plethora of awards and an army of fans worldwide; at the end, their lives come down to a couple of words.
In the world of Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook, shorthand is increasingly becoming our chosen method of communication. A few carefully chosen words can instantly capture the essence of a person. However, look carefully and you’ll realise the description is mainly emotional and not physical. The shorthand being used is emotive and allows the reader the scope to engage their imagination to both visualize and understand the person being described far more than a whole paragraph could.
Journalists have long since known the currency of words and of using shorthand to ignite their readers’ imagination. ‘Blonde, mother-of-three’ and ‘millionaire property developer’ instantly paint pictures in our minds’ eye. Every celebrity comes attached with a shorthand label – ‘reality star’; ‘model turned actress’; ‘Award winning songwriter’ – the list is endless.
Video compliments that shorthand. A stunning image, a carefully shot interview or a certain style helps reinforce the image or brand just as much as words do. Creating video is about triggering the emotional response in the viewer. Images can be made to show everything from understanding the legacy of a company to how innovative it is. Alternatively, if the brand is all about customer service, then an image of an untidy office is shorthand for ‘we don’t care about you’ and does little to enhance reputation.
Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood are not reduced to two words each because we think less of them; on the contrary. Their genius manifests itself in two everyday phrases. Each phrase, seemingly innocuous, has the power to reduce the speaker to tears of laughter and to trigger memories that go far beyond the two comedians themselves.
There is the same power in getting the right image in video. In our twitter world where 140 characters sums up the most complex arguments, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter. We don’t use vowels in our text messages, we sign off emails with emojis. The majority of videos watched don’t educate with a linear story. Most videos are a 90 second assault our senses. Understanding the audience and getting the right image in a video can be perfect shorthand for creating the best brand awareness.
The Two Ronnies “Four Candles” sketch from 1976.
Victoria Woods and Julie Walters “Two Soups”