Mind your language

I was flicking through the paper this morning looking for a welcome diversion from the sodden bran flakes before me and came across The Times’ ‘How to be smarter’ series. The lesson on day four was – ‘Grammar for grown ups’. With all you need to know about grammar full stop.

Most of us don’t care about nouns and verbs and have no compunction to search out errant commas and over-excited screamers (exclamation marks!). I mean it’s not like we’re still at school and have to know this stuff, right?

Obviously working in a communications business grammar is the stuff I/we do care about. But on reflection we all work in a communication business, it’s what separates us from the animals. We should all care about it.

In fact, I would hazard a guess that more people write more stuff than ever before with emails, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and texting now a major part of our lives.  With that theory in mind there’s probably never been a more prevalent time to dust off a few basic rules, leaving the Queen’s best alone.

I love English, the way it evolves and changes through time and use. Michel Platini (football legend and UEFA president) joked this week that he understood English perfectly when it’s spoken by anyone but the English.

I even love the way texting and Twitter have led people to use their imaginations to shorten words using a mixture of numbers, letters, abbreviations and emoticons. For example – M8, LOL and :D (for the record, I hate LOL but that’s another story).

However, clever wordage can’t replace bad grammar.

Jokes have gone flat (or mistakenly been created), friendships strained and colleagues bamboozled, all because of a confused comma or an absent apostrophe.

So to finish off here are my top three rules to putting grammar back where it belongs… in your messages.

1)   LOL doesn’t replace full stops (I told you I hate them).
2)   Avoid screamers at all times! It’s just shouting for the sake of it!
3)   Happy faces for happy messages good. Sad faces for sad messages are just… well… sad.

Andy Bolter, Creative Director


50 shades of respect

As the dust finally settles on the summer of 2012 – our short-term memories are left with just four colours to remember it by. There’s the bronze, silver and gold of the two greatest sporting events ever staged in this country; and then there’s the 50 shades of grey that had most of the mums up and down the country blushing like love-struck teenagers.

These two events, London 2012 and one of the most successful yet dismissed trilogies ever had a lot more in common than just a calendar year.

Their connection is in the legacy of the Games and an understated call to arms.

I hold my hands up as a true convert to the Olympics, I wasn’t bothered either way, until Danny Boyle shouted action. And by the time the Paralympics (literally in some cases) rolled into town, I was smitten by the amazing antics of the human spirit.

The whole time we were reminded of what can be achieved in sport with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude. While all the while a certain book sat on the bedside table gathering lust and dog-eared pages.

As I looked at the book across the bed, I was still glowing from the excitement of David Weir and company. I thought about the back-story of the author E L James, how she had obviously spent months, maybe a year or two writing fan fiction before progressing to finishing three books. Then the continual knock backs from publishing houses until eventually self-publishing. Slowly but surely over time her book climbed the podium of bestsellers before Harper Collins saw the sales and jumped into bed with her.

In broad brushstrokes, a history not too dissimilar to an athlete’s sporting life. Years of training, keeping the faith with oneself and a few believers, sweating and screaming until the results take over and interest grows, propelling the athlete to adulation and the podium.

My thoughts turned back to the legacy – ’Inspiring a generation’. By the end of Coldplay’s last song, at the end of the final night of the Paralympics the line just wasn’t big enough. The line was too long and because of it too restrictive.

I wanted to lop off two words. I wanted – ’Inspiring’.

Because history is littered by normal people doing amazing things, either for themselves or for others.

These two events proved to me that anyone can achieve their goals if they work hard enough and stick with it through the darkest hours. From completing a novel to completing the length of a pool without arms or legs.

So as the summer sun sets over Stratford, and the holiday reads find their way from the suitcase to the bookcase, don’t ignore the legacies and inspiration because you don’t like sport.

Take those 50 shades of inspiration and do something with them – learn to bake a cake, write a love letter, pick up a musical instrument, visit some far flung country or change your job for something better, but do something – and then when you look back, you’ll have made it a summer really worth remembering.

Taking our position in the world

The paint has just dried, the plastic has been pulled off the new furniture, new stationery has been unpacked, case studies repolished and the ‘live’ button on the new website has just been pressed.

The end of 18 months of emotional turmoil where phrases like ‘I love it, I’m so excited by this’ mix like oil paint with confrontation, arguments and the occasional storming out of meetings.

What does this all mean? It means that Pepper, at long last, is ready to unveil our new identity and more importantly, formalise our positioning for the first time.

Whatever it takes.

That’s us in three words of differing lengths. A belief to live and deliver by, to challenge our clients and partners with, and a benchmark to judge new people by.

We don’t promise to go the extra mile, we just do. It’s inherent in our make up and prevalent in everything we do.

When we started the process all those months ago we spent time looking at other agencies, auditing the differences and working out where we stood and what we stood for in the world. As we threw various positionings out, we realised too many companies were just hiding their similar offerings behind a myriad of dissimilar promises.

So instead we looked internally, what did we offer that clients wanted, even needed?

Great service, we always made deadlines (no matter how tight), we always delivered on budget (we don’t like the uncomfortable conversations about those surprise costs just as much as our clients don’t) and we all love great work that brings strategies to life in surprising ways.

In a nutshell, clients want great work, on time and in budget. And we’ll do ’Whatever it takes’ to do that.

On every step of the journey for us ‘ok’ isn’t ok and ‘good’ isn’t good enough. And we expect our clients and partners to walk, run and jump with us as we race through that journey.

So that’s it, our first blog. Obviously there’ll be a lot more and they won’t be so focused on ourselves but taking a view of the world around us and seeing where ‘Whatever it takes’ shows itself in various guises.

As for the new identity and positioning? In truth it has taken 18 months to launch, or in other words – a year and half to reach the starting point. Now the hard work and fun & games will really start as we make sure we do whatever it takes – every minute of every day.

If you’d like to find out more about us, or just discuss what you’ve read click here and drop us a line. Or visit our website peppercorp.com