Simplicity, Patience and Compassion – Taoism in Advertising

Wahn’s observation that there is a Tao of Advertising is inspiring. As such, I wanted to write a guest post on the Wunderkind blog to share my views. Below is one of my favourite passages from the Tao Te Ching (translated of course):

There are just three things to teach:

Simplicity, patience and compassion.

These are your greatest treasures. 

Simple in actions and in thoughts, 

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are. 

Compassionate toward yourself, 

you reconcile all beings in the world. 

Simplicity is integral when communicating on behalf of your brand. There’s no sense complicating something to sound smart or witty. From convoluted and reaching campaigns like this year’s “Chanel No.5” featuring Brad Pitt, to something more easily palatable like “Our Food. Your Questions.” from McDonald’s, we consumers are constantly bombarded with brand messaging. In order to cut through, and be remembered, we have to keep it simple. Simple is clean, beautiful and easy to understand.

Patience is a long-forgotten virtue. Let’s bring it back. Be patient with your team; ensure everyone understands and is on board with your strategy and/or big idea before moving into execution. It’s also vital to ensure your client appreciates the value of patience. Advertising can’t do everything; each campaign and communications piece typically has one or two end goals, more than that and you’re spreading your message thin. As well, we must remember that brands aren’t built over night; it takes time and attention to grow healthy, sustainable brands. In advertising, it’s not as simple as build it and they will come. It’s more like build it, water it, love it and they will come.

Advertising is a high-stress business, both agency and client side. When someone on your team makes a mistake, be compassionate. Take the time to explain the impact of their error, and show them the path to making the right decision moving forward. Your team and your work will thank you. Compassion also applies to consumers. Advertising is no longer one-way communication. To build a successful brand with an army of followers, you must be compassionate to their needs, suggestions and complaints. Social media is really just a fancy word for communicating like a human being with your consumers. They aren’t numbers.

There are many aspects of Taoism that can be applied to advertising; if you have any thoughts or comments, we’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading!