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What is an insight?

  1. What is an insight? @UmarGhumman
  2. I’m Umar, a Strategist from Toronto. I always wanted to know how the planning and creative community defines an insight. I found some answers online and also asked some of the smartest people for their contributions. What follows are all the definitions. Some have been paraphrased, others are direct quotes. There are no predictions and nothing is going to die. Click away! Hello
  3. in·sight The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something: The dictionary definition
  4. Nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature…what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action…if you know these things about a man you can touch him at the core of his being. Bill Bernbach Founder DDB Human Nature
  5. Why is a good insight like a refrigerator? " Because the moment you look into it, a light comes on.     Jeremy Bullmore Executive Director WPP London U.K. Illuminating
  6. An insight is an astonishing disclosure about people, the category or the wider world. Richard Huntigton Director of Planning Saatchi & Saatchi London U.K. Astonishing
  7. For me an insight is simply defined as understanding ‘why’ rather than the what. Why do people think the way they think or do the things they do…as opposed to what they actually end up doing. That said, I also don’t believe there is such a thing as one single insight – they can come from anywhere-but despite that, It's still about the why rather than the what. Rob Campbell Head of Planning Weiden + Kennedy Shanghai China Why
  8. The best way I can describe "insight" is to give you an example of the difference between a fact, an observation and an insight. FACT: People tend to feed their pets twice a day. OBSERVATION: They tend to feed them at breakfast and dinner time. INSIGHT: People feel guilty eating in front of their pets. Kevin Drew Davis Chief Creative Officer DDB Canada Not a fact or observation
  9. There are many kinds of insights in our business but the kind that gets me most excited is those that inform creative ideas. They can be observations about behaviours, pearls of wisdom on the human condition, or simply universal truths that help define people, culture, and human race. The danger is trying to pick just one. Great work is full of insight. In order to be insightful you must ask a lot of questions. Especially the question "why?". For example, once you identify the trend or behaviour, ask "why?". Once you understand the motivation, ask "why?". Riff the creative on that, and you will be unstoppable. Collin Douma Global Account Lead OMD Worldwide New York U.S.A Why & Observations
  10. For context, my advertising philosophy is “Simply, tell the truth”. Therefore, an insight, is a truth. Perhaps unknown. Undiscovered. Or perhaps known but not levered. For me it has to be something more than an observation, it has to be actionable. It has to cause the audience to think about the brand or category differently than they have thought before, or ever. Bob Shanks Managing Partner GRIP Limited Canada Known but not levered
  11. I hate that word [insight], actually. It should be a good word, but it has been bastardised and rendered impotent (some wit once described it as something which is blatantly obvious to the man on the street but news to the marketing department). My take now is that, as a planner, my primary responsibility (my client, if you like) is to the truth. The truth about the product, about the audience, about the company, about the task at hand. Not myths, conventions, insights or wishful thinking, but the truth. In an age where "just ads" don't work, the truth sets us free. It gives us relevance and salience. We have two jobs: define the real business problem and to find the relevant truths which will assist us in solving it. That's what needs to be on a brief (like the old get/to/by). Jason Lonsdale Executive Planning Director Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney Australia Truth
  12. If insight refers to a moment of illumination, it is a transitory experience. A new way of thinking about a problem is only new for a short term. Today's Aha! moment, if it is any use, is tomorrow's received wisdom. This should tell us that insight is not an important goal in itself, but a means to an end. All insight is provisional, anyway. One moment of it leads to another, and they should lead to visions, decisions and actions. Paul Feldwick Consultant Former Worldwide Planning Director DDB U.K. Means to an end
  13. Other than ‘strategy’, ‘insight’ is one of the most over and mis-used words in agency world. There’s a difference between ‘I’ve found some stuff’ and ‘I’ve found an insight’. Insights are unspoken human truths, truths the subconscious recognises when it sees them. One of the best ways to find them? Start with something that seems obvious and keep asking ‘Why?’ and ‘What if?’. Mark Pollard VP Brand Strategy Big Spaceship New York U.S.A What if
  14. An insight is less to do with revelation more to do with realization. Insight happens at a slower speed, it’s like thinking in slow motion, when you notice something. When you notice that you are noticing something. It’s the noticing that you are noticing, that is the insight, more of a realization than a revelation. An insight is something that is weird- normal. Unlocking creativity through weird-normal. Tracey Follows Chief Strategy Officer JWT London U.K. Weird-Normal
  15. An insight on its own is merely a human truth that someone internally identifies with and connects to. An actionable insight for marketers is when that human truth is melded with some kind of undefined creative expression or act that -- when done successfully -- somehow serves to elevate a brand. Why does this happen? Simply because the insight and the creative expression coming together have contributed to something 'smart.' Consumers recognize this 'smart truth' and then instinctively think that the people at the company behind the brand are smart. And then the consumer gives them money. Stephen Steck Senior Planner Publicis Toronto Canada Must lead to smart
  16. It’s thinking in slow motion. Ed Morris Director Ratling Stick London U.K. Slow motion
  17. When it comes to how I think about insight, I love the Arthur Schopenhauer quote: " "The task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees.” " " So often, we use insights to frame up our presentations: insight #1, insight #2. And often, these are nothing more than observations. There are slides out there with statements like: "Mom sometimes likes to do things other than wash the dishes." Painful. An insight is an "aha" moment. The "I never thought of it like that" expression that turns data into possibilities. More often though, the job is a matter of being insightful throughout the process rather than providing some perfectly packaged pearl of wisdom. Heather Leferve Group Planning Director Crispin Porter + Bogusky Miami U.S.A Being insightful throughout
  18. Insight is the advice of an expert fisherman: instead of trolling the bottom of the river and dredging up garbage, insight tells you which bait to use to hook the right fish directly to your line.   Jason Theodore Creative Director Publicis Modem Toronto Canada The right bait
  19. Insight is a quality possessed by people. You want to hire planners who are insightful.  But they will not ‘uncover’ or ‘land on’ or ‘find’ insights for you, because that is not possible. The best they can be, is insightful on your behalf. Farrah Bostic Consultant The Difference Engine New York U.S.A Insightful people
  20. As Farrah has pointed out, there's no such thing as AN INSIGHT - a reified object of insightfulness: [Remember - there's no such thing as an insight - they are a kind of reified strategic currency we use as an industry, no doubt useful but not technically that kind of noun, there's no THING called an insight, insight describes a quality or process of developing a deep and intuitive understanding of something.] " " But to define them in a useful way for our purposes you often end up with that unspoken human truth idea, which is fine. " " To round that out I would say an insight is a deep penetrating observation or interpretation thereof that unlocks growth and provides inputs into strategy and a launch pad for ideas. A good insight is fresh, deep, focused, and directional. Faris Yakob Principal Genius Steals New York U.S.A Penetrating Interpretation
  21. A key discovery that could yield tangible, marketable and meaningful opportunity if applied. Laurie Dillon Schalk Strategic Planning Director, Digital FCB Toronto Canada Key discovery
  22. To me an insight reveals or uncovers itself when we seek to understand the true nature of something. It could be a situation, a person, a product, a brand and therefore there can be many varied insights. " " What I believe is important when we find one is that it be "surprising" and when I say surprising I mean you kinda smack yourself in the head when you find it but it's not intuitively obvious at first so you need to probe enough or find ways to uncover or reveal the true nature of something etc. " " Often I've seen insights which aren't truly insights but are so often facts...if it's that obvious and easy to find than to me it's usually an observation or a fact but rarely an interesting insight. There are many types of insights as I've expressed above so to me it's choosing which insight e.g. product? brand? human? etc. can be the most impactful or valuable given the problem we're trying to solve for.   Cybelle Srour SVP, Group Digital Planning Director Energy BBDO Chicago U.S.A Surprising
  23. Forget Insights, figure out the needs.   Nick Hurst Planning Partner adam&eve DDB London U.K. Needs
  24. I think of an "insight" as a truth that hasn't really been told before. Louis CK is good at stripping away the BS and telling the truth. I guess that makes him "insightful." Or just awesome. Seems to me, the best folks in this business tend to search for the truth as well. Because they know truth makes the most powerful communications. It's what connects with people. And they also know that advertising is only noticed if it's different. So they hold themselves to expose the truth in provocative ways. All of this leads to insight. The process is not always pretty, but when it works you get to a great message. When it doesn't, you get predictable, shitty advertising. Where I'm going with this is that creative briefs don't need some kind of amazing, jaw-dropping "what's the insight?" section. Briefs just need to start a team down the path toward exposing the truth. " That means giving them a juicy problem to solve. The planner should focus on defining what that problem honestly is, that way the creatives can focus on answering it as honestly as possible. " Problem: People think Detroit is dead and gone. Insight: Imported from Detroit   Dave Burg Head of Planning Roundhouse Portland U.S.A It’s about the problem
  25. A big discovery that changes market conversation. 3 types of insight: New News – something you had never seen before. New Perspectives on something the client thought they knew reframing/re-expression. Recalibration of the clients world view with the customers worldview.   John Griffiths Principal Planning Above and Beyond London U.K. Changes market conversation
  26. A fresh observation that unlocks creativity. An insight is not obvious, fiction, ad copy, a strategy statement, occupied territory or tagline.   Bud Caddell Partner Undercurrent L.A. U.S.A Fresh observation
  27. I’m sort of obsessed by the everyday, everything has to be grounded in the everyday, and finding the truth in any mission, finding the truth in any strategy as a motivation and as a place where we can actually go to and get people to do something.   David Droga Creative Chairman Droga5 Comes from the everyday
  28. To me an insight is any piece of information or knowledge that reshapes how we see a situation. To be useful, it has to reshape our perception so that we can see opportunities that weren’t visible before.   Adrian Ho Partner Zeus Jones Minneapolis U.S.A Reshapes perception
  29. When you don't have to sell it, because they want it.  Sounds generic?  It isn't.  It's insight.    Kathy Kohn Founder Kohn SAMI Former CCO henderson bas kohn Canada No selling required
  30. Insight excites.  It ignites intuition. It is relevant, distinctive and immersive.   Duncan Bruce President & Chief Creative Officer Publicis Canada Excites
  31. An insight is something that you didn’t know before." Something that may change the way you think about the problem." Dave Trott Chairman The Gate London U.K. Didn’t know before
  32. Truth that hasn’t been revealed in a way you want it.   Brett Channer Chief Creative Officer Red Lion Publicis Canada Truth
  33. An Insight is a penetrating vision into the heart of things. It reaches beneath the surface and outside of conventional boundaries to grasp the essence of what must be done. It isn’t advertising’s “Big Idea”. Rather it is that ‘aha!’ moment when you can state, simply and succinctly, what a brand needs. Without insight it is impossible to move forward. It is a combination of creative thinking and analysis, intensity, intuition, knowledge, data and imagination. Bertrand Cesvet Chief Strategy Officer Sid Lee Penetrating vision
  34. Insight is a feeling, you kinda know it when you feel it. It’s a disturbance in discourse – An insight creates a new way of thinking that was impossible before, allowing us to express what was previously inexpressible. Truth is usually boring. Truth is too late. If something is so well established to be understood as true then chances are your competitor has already nicked it. Insights don’t need to be deep, don’t go deep, go across. Don’t be monolithic.   Andy Davison Head of UK Practice Flamingo London U.K. Disturbance in discourse
  35. A revelation. Something that makes you go, 'fuck me, I never thought of it that way’ - That's interesting.   Lucy Goode VP Planning Publicis Montreal Canada Interesting
  36. A good insight is like a cocoon, lots of butterflies can come out of it.   Caitlin Ryan Executive Creative Director Kamarama London U.K. Cocoon
  37. Let’s reclaim insight as a way of looking and thinking, and take it off its pedestal of unhealthy attention and worship. If our efforts are to be relevant, we of course need an understanding of the outside world to be brought to bear upon the creative process. However, our measure of its value should not be whether this input is an Insight or not. But whether it is a) true and b) useful. Martin Weigel Head of Planning Weiden + Kennedy Amsterdam Netherlands A way of looking & thinking
  38. The thing that tells us why we’re doing what we’re doing or did what we did. David Wielding Head of Planning PHD U.K. The thing
  39. Insights are illuminating; they exist in a prenatural state waiting for the right context to reveal their preternatural value. Esme Rottschafer Senior Planning Director Publicis Toronto Canada Waiting to be revealed
  40. An insight is not simply an obvious piece of information. " It needs to feel like a revelation, something that genuinely sheds new light on your business issue.. " It is not just a 'consumer insight' although it could still be (People eat breakfast cereal as a late afternoon snack), it could be something you uncover about the brand (Stella was originally made for Christmas), about how people shop (men's shower gel tends to be bought for them by women), media (new parents talk to each other in the early hours on Google Hangouts to feel less isolated) or even culture (young people are responding to austerity with contradiction - hard work ethic and greater irreverence). " But an insight isn't enough, it needs to be actionable, something a business can utilize - that means rich hooks that unlock great creative work, great NPD, great media and, most importantly, a real marketing problem, a role for communications that will directly affect a business problem, not just brand scores.   Andrew Howell Planning Director PHD U.K. Not obvious
  41. Long Live insightfulness. @UmarGhumman