Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Slow brands - part one

Image courtesy of wholewheattoast

The Slow Down London festival is currently running. Talks, workshops and every other type of get together. The slow movement is made up of lots of disparate organisations and ideas; from slow food to slow cities and slow parenting. The unifying thought is that everything in life has its natural tempo, and that today we tend to go too fast.

On Saturday night I went to see Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness, talk at the Southbank Centre. Carl’s book came out about five years ago and pulled together all the different strands of slowness emerging around the world. Carl’s belief is that for the past 150 years the world has been getting faster, and for most of that time this improved our lives, we are now though past the point of diminishing returns. Carl talks about the machismo of busyness; the pressure on people to appear busy - the false equation in the workplace of long-hours with productivity.

The fact that there is a well attended slow festival suggests that the movement is gaining pace (obvious pun). Perhaps what is even more significant is that an increasing number of brands are embracing elements of slowness. Some, such as pension companies, simply allude to slow as an aspiration using photos of people in yoga positions on beaches. Others celebrate slow in terms of craftsmanship, for example, Audi’s campaign – The Slowest Car We’ve Ever Built.

This sense of slow meaning considered and crafted is increasingly popular. Richard Sennett’s recent book The Craftsman, explores the topic; drawing in everything from goldsmiths to linux programmers; it feels like a timely publication. In an era of austerity and environmental concern, brands that take the time to reflect, creating products that are crafted to last and to be enjoyed at the right pace have a particular resonance.

In the next post I’ll look at a particular genre of event, that I believe is especially powerful for slow brands.