Give It To Me Straight – Like Pear Cider Made From 100% Pears

As a designer, my appreciation of the power of language stems from an understanding that graphic design combines two vital ingredients: images and text.

Words often bear greater impact when they’re direct and succinct. With the advent of texting and social media and the desire to type quicker, words have been crunched by dexterous teens across the planet into ubiquitous acronyms, which are slowly but surely infiltrating the Oxford English Dictionary. Cramming a Tweet into 140 characters is a skill in itself and being laconic in a message – whether it’s an email or an ad – certainly has its uses.

The concept is by no means new. A brilliant example of witty laconicism comes from a correspondence between the famously short (not just in stature!) Spartans and their Macedonian adversaries, in the face of battle. In response to the threat from King Philip II of Macedon, “If I win this war, you will be slaves forever!” the powerful and succinct reply from Sparta was simply: “If”.

Fine examples of laconicism exist in advertising. From the direct ‘Just do it’, to the more intelligible ‘Make.Believe’ and even messaging in a foreign language such as ‘Vorsprung durch technik’. Another brilliant line, coined by former IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson, ‘Think’, has been the mantra of the company for over 100 years.

If you’ve worked with us, you’ll be familiar with the Purple Agency brief and the all-important question posed during any briefing meeting: “What’s the proposition?”

According to Wikipedia, ‘The term proposition refers to either the “content” or “meaning” of a meaningful declarative sentence or the pattern of symbols, marks, or sounds that make up a meaningful declarative sentence.’

It’s a fair description. A simple proposition can be as loaded or as simple as you like – all we’re after are the facts. However, it’s important to establish the proposition early on, before starting the project, to make absolutely sure we’re all on the same page from the off. Think of the proposition as a battle standard that rallies the team through the duration of a project.

Our clients might supply the proposition or it could be a joint effort between the client, Alan Docherty, our Creative Director and our team of writers. The goal is to define and distil the ‘content’ into something concise, memorable and meaningful. A singular summing up, so to speak, sometimes referred to as the ‘single minded proposition’.

By now you’ll be wondering where the title of this article fits in. Well, discussing propositions reminds me of a line from a brilliantly executed sketch by Comedian Stuart Lee: “Give it to me straight, like pear cider made from 100% pears” – made famous by a Magners ad campaign depicting a guy who just wants the truth of the matter.

Ultimately, the proposition acts as the launch pad for the entire project team. Once that’s established, it’s lift-off – green for go.

Or Purple in this case…

Chris Laakvand, Lead Designer
With an extensive working knowledge of all the very latest design software, Chris is responsible for the clean lines and consistent branding attributed to a number of  Purple’s clients. He’s a conceptual thinker who knows how to push the boundaries while keeping things credible.