Adopting a “Yes, and…” Mentality | Branding

February 8, 2016

In his 1624 Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, John Donne wrote the famous line, “No man is an island.” The point he was making is that each of us depends upon others to get through life. This principle is especially true in our work lives, where it has long been recognized that collaboration and the team approach generally produces the best outcomes.

The work of branding is no exception. Indeed, teamwork is essential because no one person can be relied upon to come up with the best ideas every time. And while a team approach can, in some instances, lead to groupthink and regression to the mean, if done well, it produces results that far surpass what any lone individual could accomplish.

So how can we ensure that the team approach is done well?

Improv and the art of branding

At first glance, the madcap world of improv may seem light years away from the serious business of branding, but let us explain.

There are many tenets of improv performances, but the overarching one is the principle of “Yes, and…”

Whenever improv performers are on stage and one of the performers suggests something, the other performers must never reject it. Rather, they must say “Yes, and…” and proceed to build on that idea. Then the next performer says, “Yes, and…” and builds on that idea. This allows the entire performance to consistently elevate itself to a higher level. According to Holly Mandel, founder of the performance school Improvolution, “It’s a total philosophy of creativity. ‘Yes, and’ creates, while ‘no’ stops the flow.”

In other words, “Yes, and” is the key to cooperation and innovation in branding, and the team approach makes “Yes, and” solutions possible. Indeed, according to strategy consultant Scott McDowell, by incorporating “Yes, and” into team branding work, “Each moment is a tiny explosion of possibility,” allowing us to make the choice to be at our best and to deliver our best work.

So instead of responding with “No, that won’t work,” effective teams should always respond with “Yes, and…”