Scamp resurrected a thought that had been floating around in the back of mind for a while, which I'll attempt to convert into words...
Photo by Stepheye
I was watching the documentary a while ago about Stephen Hawking. (1. I love the fact that he won't change his voice. 2. I love the fact that even though he can only use his cheek muscle to communicate, he still says "Thank you" to people. I realise he probably has a short cut built in so it's maybe not that much of an effort, but still.)
The documentary finished with a description of string theory, something I have vaguely encountered before (Bill Bryson covers it, I think, and I go snowboarding with mathematicians.) without really getting it. However, it goes a little something like this.
What we see as "atoms" are in fact waves. We look at them end on, so see a single point. That single point actually stretches away from us, through 11 or so dimensions.
Anyway, Scamp's post made me think that what are referred to as "ideas" in the traditional sense do not exist as such in digital. A website is a demonstration of what you ARE as an organisation. The "idea" at the heart of a site is a actually a continuous demonstration of your mode of existence.
I'm always telling people that clients get the website they deserve. Why is trainline so shit? Because train companies couldn't give a fuck about passengers. Why is national rail enquiries so good? Because train companies care deeply about timetables. Why won't those bell ends in Chester le street give up nationalrail.com? Because train companies are competing petty bureaucracies. Why is it impossible to contact a human being from Natwest's online banking sysytem? Because call centres cost money, and money is more important that customer service to a retail bank. Why is Howies so successful? Because they are nice people who care about stuff. Why does the innocent site feel a little contrived? Because innocent itself is a little contrived (thought up by two marketers with a gift for PR. I'm not necessarily implying an insult here, by the way. I like innocent.)
So, for me, it is a bit wrong headed to discuss digital "ideas". Particularly with the phenomenon of distributed identity. As I said before, you can't impose your brand values on youtube, twitter, facebook or whatever happens to be fashionable at the time. You need a voice, and that voice only really comes from inside.
So it doesn't really matter if you have a creative team of one, two, or three working on a short lived digital distraction. When your consumers interact with you on a deeper level, by trying to carry out some manner of interaction with your brand online, that all fades into dust.