The Art of ‘C’ing an insight, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

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Many years ago, long before the advent of live broadcasts and breaking news, Tenali Rama solved a difficult puzzle in a truly interesting way.

A wise man (perhaps a precursor to the modern management consultant) visited the kingdom and issued a challenge to all scholars: try to find out what his native tongue was. The sage engaged everyone in a dialogue across a multitude of languages. He seemed equally at home in each. When the others had given up, the cunning Tenali Rama sneaked up on the unsuspecting visitor and pricked him with a needle. This act was not unnecessary, as the colorful expletive that praised the air was a sure indicator of the man’s native tongue. Tenali’s insight being, when it comes to tricky matters like swearing in the throes of intense pain, we drop the facade and go back to the original language we learned to speak.

In short, long before this term entered brand conversations, Tenali Rama had latched onto a fundamental idea to solve the conundrum at hand.

One of the most coveted things to leverage in any business is truly powerful insight. It can give clarity and direction to everything that follows; from manufacturing imperatives to marketing inclinations. Yet finding it remains as elusive as going through an entire business meeting without someone saying, “so what are the next steps?”

Many of these interventions around the discovery of ideas boil down to the use of curious geometric models, with forms that would make Euclid proud, usually adorned with vectors that seem to have existential problems.

The truth is, as is the case with much of branding, this process can be a whole lot easier (and even more fun).

It might involve a change in attitude and building common sense, which a kindergartener might understand.

To start with the attitudinal aspect; getting good at extracting insights is a mindset that needs to be developed and honed throughout life. It celebrates a ritual of pause and reflection whenever one notices something engaging, quirky and “funny”.

Think of how people ‘double tap’ their floor button in an elevator, even when the indicator shows the action has already been completed. Think about how a group of boys sitting in a college canteen automatically raise their decibel levels when a group of girls walk in and move in somewhere in their vicinity.

To be fair, the ranking of these observations can range from the introspective incisive to the quite frivolous. But this exercise in constantly accumulating and reviewing these observations has a remarkable resurfacing effect to provide a “lightbulb” moment, in times of urgency and need. Improving one’s ability to unearth the right idea unequivocally involves becoming a better student of the human condition.

When it comes to constructing a structured path to discovering deeper insight, we turn here to the alphabet. Just a letter to be honest, revisited four times. Here are the 4 Cs, which could help to see things better. They are connection, category, culture and conflict. Take each ‘C’ individually for better clarity.


The first C starts with how the company (and its brand) builds a relevant and strong connection with the consumer. He lingers on the bridge of relevance being built. It explores the needs and feelings that are addressed. It could even capture where the consumer differentiates the brand’s offering from the rest. For example, if we are working on a brand in the coaching course space; providing real support – academic and otherwise – at a time when the student and family are stressed, given the “big year of exams” ahead of them, could strike a chord. Innovations in knowledge transmission and learning, perhaps based on more interactivity and individual attention, could also help the brand connect better due to perceived superiority.


The second C focuses on category paradigms. In a sense, it takes a somewhat broader view. Here we look at how the category behaves and communicates. We try to determine the implicit “norms” (and if they can be broken). We reflect on the role that the category plays in the life of the consumer. To cite again the case of coaching courses; we could witness how all market players basically put a strong (even blind) emphasis on better ratings or higher ratings. We could identify how prominent players say they’ve cracked the ‘review code’. And their use of former students, literally as celebrity endorsers, to instill confidence and faith in their methods.


The third C pulls our point of view even more outwards. It studies global cultural and societal trends, which might be relevant to the audience and the challenge in question. Are there any overarching narratives we need to be aware of? This involves a bit of embracing the “big picture” perspective. To continue in line with our brand of coaching courses; there are several larger storylines at work here. From the very public fear of “failure” and the panic of being left behind, to the overriding ambition to outdo others (peers) and silence critics. It could also be an acknowledgment of today’s youthful urge to be associated with a brand that is clearly perceived to be “with it”.


The first three Cs should provide enough information to be accurate. However, there’s something about the abrasiveness of conflict that always makes for more compelling insights. So after the outward journey, we focus and zoom in again, on where areas of conflict might be present. The way the brand can attempt to solve these problems always offers promising avenues to explore. Revisiting our coaching class challenge, there are trade-offs between mindlessly acquiring grades and balancing that with real deeper learning that could be worked out. There could also be stories woven around the conversion from dislike and the pressure of an important exam, to the pleasure of having things under control and having the reins in one’s own hands.

In conclusion, much of the quest for information either ends up being too complicated and pedantic, or too random and unpredictable. As Tenali Rama showed us all those years ago, there is always a method to overcome such great challenges. On that note, I hope this article has spurred your thought process towards a better appreciation and understanding of ideas.

Consumer experience can be associated with sensory experiences.

The author writes that the emerging codes of “the Bearded” and “the Diva” reflect the new balance of yin and yang energies in line with changing social norms around work, childcare and nuclear homes. . Women are increasingly expected to be assertive and have a voice while men are expected to be in touch with their nurturing side, yet confident in their masculinity.

Marilyn J. Hernandez