November 24, 2007

Walk This Way

I took a walk on the wild side during a visit to my client, Temple Country Retreat & Spa.

Each morning, Temple's Declan Fagan leads a short stroll around the working farm, which is very popular with guests. During the walk, he likes to point out things of interest and remind us to notice what's going on around us - from the steaming pats and flattened grass where the cattle lay down for the night to the sudden flash of colour on the ivy leaves as they catch the sun. He gently encourages us to walk more naturally and return to the easy roll from the heel striking the ground through the ball of the foot to the toe and on again.

Once we're walking again with our eyes at the natural level of the horizon and our shoulders loose and easy (rather than in the hunched-up, head-down style that we city-dwellers seem to prefer), he calls our attention to what's beneath our feet and invites us to feel the difference between walking over mud, loose gravel or fallen leaves.

As he described on Thursday how the feet gather information and the body makes adjustments as it receives the new intelligence: a tweak here, a nudge there; it struck me that we need to find a way for our brand to walk more naturally in much the same way. We often walk rough-shod over the ground in our business, and are so intent on getting to where we're going that we're unable to meet the eyes of our customers or pick up on the market intelligence available to us as we cross the terrain. To our unthinking feet, mud, loose gravel and fallen leaves are all the same, and we march on without a thought for what's going on with our customer.

I like Declan's observation that the body knows what to do based on what it senses and his suggestion that a more natural walking-style puts us back in touch with the raw intelligence that can guide our actions. As brand-owners, we can ask what we need to do to feel the ground beneath our feet and walk again with the rolling gait of the countryman - even as we make our way through the crush of the marketplace.

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