Enlightened Conflict

fluff and fold (aesthetics and value)

May 24th, 2016

trust just fluffy duck

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“Aesthetics is the shop window, ultimately, if there’s nothing in that shop, it has no longevity, do you know what I mean?”

 

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Geri Halliwell

 

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Well.

 

 

Of all people in the world I never thought I would read ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell <Ginger Spice?> saying something relevant to business … and actually use it to write something.

Laundry_Bath_Comps

Anyone who has ever worked with me has heard me use the “fluff and fold” reference.

 

Fluff is the aesthetics.

 

Fold is the value.

 

Fluff is puffery.

 

Fold is the substance.

 

Look.

 

We like the aesthetics. Maybe even love it, adore it and bond with it.

But without the fold … the value and functionality … we end up disappointed in the aesthetics … and will inevitably move on to the next thing to adore.

 

And while I have never articulated this thought like Geri did I have tried to say it over and over … and over again in meeting after meeting after … well … meeting.

 

I do know it is one of the most consistent discussions in business positioning, selling and marketing. and it will continue to do so because there is a natural tension between “fluffers” and “folders.”

 

While the most strident of each wish it would be 100% at the exclusion of their kindred enemy … most of fall into a natural 80/20 versus 20/80 Pareto rule.

 

A fluffer understands that substance is necessary … just maybe as a period at the end of the interesting fluff.

 

And the folder grudgingly accepts that aesthetics are necessary … just maybe as a “once upon a time” entrée to the main story of substance.

 

It really doesn’t matter which side you fall on in this discussion the debate revolves around the same issues time and time again:pooh full of fluff

 

  • If they are not interested <sometimes confused with ‘entertained’> they will not pay attention

 

  • Everybody is stressed for time and if you don’t engage them in the first 10 seconds you have lost them <hyperbole statement at best>

 

  • People are tired of bullshit and just want you to cut to the chase <flawed logic because this assumes substance sell itself>

 

But regardless of how often all of us fall into this tired argument … here is where most trains go off the tracks.

 

Suffice it to say … businesses get mesmerized by aesthetics.

 

If I hear one more quote about “first impressions count” or “they have to like you before they can enter into a brand dialogue” or … well … any of the semi-intellectual strategic crap that flippantly gets tossed around like the newest office toy sitting on the conference room table … I will puke.

 

In the simplistic dialogues that take place you inevitably find people debating what is more important when it isn’t a matter of importance … it is a matter of balance.

 

And, yet, while I sense we all know that balance is the answer we seem to consistently slide down the slippery slope of fluff under the guise of “the substance is complex and we need to simplify!”

 

Huh?

 

Everyone wants ‘the one thing.’

 

Everyone wants ‘the formula.’

election they are all nuts vote

 

Nuts.

That is what I say to that.

Nuts.

 

 

Substance is substance. I am not suggesting you have to serve it up in some complex unpalatable way but … well … substance, more often than not, is not simple. And if we try and simplify substance too much, uh oh, it becomes … uhm … fluff.

 

In the end.

 

You cannot just have fluff.

 

You cannot just have fold.

 

You have to have both in some form or fashion.

 

And more often than not there is no formula … but … I have to tell ya … if you can balance your fluff and fold in a quasi-50/50 split <maybe 40% fluff & 60% fold> you have a very good chance of delivering relevant information in a palatable way.

 

Oh. That word may get me in trouble … “palatable.

 

Look.

 

I am clearly in the substance <fold> camp.

While I enjoy the fluff I find that it maddeningly takes up an excessive amount of energy and focus away from fluff and fold colorsubstance <fold> which is inevitably what represents the effectiveness of whatever idea you are sharing.

 

But I have also learned, and have the scars to show, that ideas … even great bigly ideas … do not explain themselves, do not sell themselves and are often not attractive in their black & whiteness. And I have learned that, while starkness has its time & place businesses <and people in general> engage with things that have a more rich & royal hue.

 

I imagine all us business folk should remember the famous words of that ex-Spice Girl Geri:

 

Aesthetics matter … but … if there is nothing in that shop … well … there is no longevity … is there?

 

 

 

Enlightened Conflict