Lessons from Poetry


love is a beautiful face
and life
that same face wounded
after shattering through the pane of glass
separating our dreams from reality


Few people read poetry – presumably because they don’t appreciate it. I have wondered about that. As the occasional poet (and you can see above why it is not more regular) I don’t even read much poetry myself any more.

But there is a tendency for people to revert to poetry – or at least appreciate it more – when the emotions are at their highest.  Maybe that is why we read poems at weddings and wakes. (Songs are poems as music?) Even the pithy quote after victory or defeat is nothing but pure poetry where one sentence can capture so much.

Poetry is exceedingly hard to craft – much harder than an essay, and arguably the hardest of all forms of communication, at least on a scale that would measure intellectual effort per word.

My view is that it is because poems are so lean – every word is a considered word that cannot be substituted or omitted or improved. Poems are the purest form of story telling. Poets do not have the luxury of context or character. And certainly never the luxury of explanation.

What does this have to do with business?

Businesses and brands are about telling stories. Customers relate to the story that a brand represents, and express their identification with that story by purchase loyalty. All things being equal, as long as the brand story is relevant, the customer will continue to buy.

Poetry teaches us that emotions can (and should) be captured simply; by focussing on the essentials of the story: Few words. Powerful imagery. Sharp insight. Eloquence without pretension. Expression without clutter.

People get it. They are wired to get it. Life is too busy anyway for you to present them with an essay. They want the essential truth and they want powerful emotion. And they want you to tell it honestly.

Then they might be bothered to remember.

And let’s face it, if they can’t remember who you are or what you stand for, there isn’t much hope of doing business any time in the future.


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