Selling sunrise.

This post originally appeared on Monster’s Blog.
spokesmonster blog header

Springtime is here – even in the Canadian prairies. It makes a big difference, waking up to sunshine rather than chilly darkness. This morning my alarm went off at 7:30 and I was glad to see that it was already full daylight outside. I lay in bed for a while and thought about the word “sunrise”.

The sun doesn’t really rise. It stays where it is, and the rotation of the earth causes us to fall out of shadow and into the sun’s light. The word “sunrise” reflects an ancient, intuitive, pre-Copernican conception of how the universe works. But it’s the perfect word. You couldn’t possibly do better.

Let’s say you’re in marketing and your boss asks you to develop a pitch for a new feature. “People on our side of the planet are tired of this constant darkness,” your boss might say. “Electricity bills are through the roof. Plants aren’t growing. We’re always bumping into things. So we’ve decided to rotate the earth once every 24 hours, so that for 12 hours out of every 24, this side of the planet will get direct sunlight.”

“What a great idea!” you say. “What are we calling it?”

“Well,” says your boss, “that’s where you come in.”

So you sit there spinning your globe, trying to come up with a good, concise, marketable description of this new feature.

Hemispheric illumination shift?

Rotational shadow escape?

Sunward earth turning?

Ugh. A PR campaign can probably be built around sunward earth turning to convince people of its benefits. But who’s going to get up at 5 AM to watch it happen?

There are two components to marketing. First, you need to make a complicated new thing seem straightforward and familiar to an audience that probably isn’t paying much attention.

Second, you need to make it – for want of a better word – beautiful.

I’ve been trying, in the Spokesmonster cartoons and on this blog, to get across the benefits of a service that offers a lot of great features – some of them hard to explain in ten words or less. Hopefully I’ve been making a bit of progress. But I still haven’t come across that magic phrase that makes everything clear and beautiful.

spokesmonster sunrise

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Michael A. Charles is a writer, animator, and musician currently living in the Vancouver area. He used to be the singer and guitarist for the band known as Sea Water Bliss.

You can find a selection of his cartoons, music videos, and ads on the Gallery page.

Michael isn't on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter and won't be on whatever comes along next. If you need to reach him here's his contact info.

Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker