A blog is no place for self-serving, self promotion. Opinions, views, insights, even mentions of unmissable events and happenings, are allowable. But nothing, however subtle or heavily disguised on such subjects as ‘what a great bunch of people we are, doing wonderful work for our clients’. There may be those of you who’ll accuse us of being disingenuous. After all, a blog is the perfect vehicle to convey the culture of any company. To demonstrate the fascinating interests of ‘the team’, from creating award-winning video content in their bedrooms, to personal accounts of their ascent of Everest, or at the very least a strenuous hike up Ben Nevis during a short break in the Highlands. If that’s your view, then fair enough. So let’s just say it’s a matter of blogging protocol. A blog is no place to blatantly bore the pants off readers with wearisome sales speak. It’s a place to be generous with your view and experience of the world, a place where people return because there’s always something worth reading. And if those readers think better of the people who brought them interesting and fascinating reading matter, then it’s a win, win. We will return to this subject a little later.

I have always been intrigued by the phrase ‘there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’. It seems such a gentle way to express such an important warning. Akin to one of my other favourites ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. Had I tempered my unbridled enthusiasm with this sentiment, life would have had fewer ‘highs’ and far, far fewer lows. In terms of history and usage, the phrase which has given the rise to the acronym TANSTAAFL is far more profound that I and possibly you could ever imagine. What could be seen as a cute throw-away line, has been used to refer to such an august subject as the fundamentals of economic theory. In 1949, the phrase appeared in Pierre Dos Utt’s TANSTAAFL: A Plan for a New Economic World Order, which describes a political system based on his conclusions from “no free lunch” principles. The economist Milton Friedman increased the popularity of the phrase by using it as the title of a 1975 book and Campbell McConnell commented that the idea is “at the core of economics”.

For those of us who aren’t economic theorists, there is a more commonplace, but equally entertaining source. The ‘free lunch’ refers to the once-common tradition of saloons in the United States providing a ‘free lunch’ to customers who bought at least one drink. Because many of the foods were high in salt those who ate them ended up buying a lot of beer.

If we are to get to elevator pitch brevity, TANTSAAFL indicates that in reality a person or a society cannot get “something for nothing”. Even if something appears to be free, there is always a cost to the person or to society as a whole. So you could say, that is pretty much that. There are certain constants, that try as you may you can’t get around. It’s a little like the scientific fact that energy can’t be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy in the universe never changes, although it may change from one form to another. Energy never disappears, but it does change form. For those of you who are still with me I would like to bring the strands of this blog together. Firstly, by returning to the subject of self promotion on a blog, being severely frowned on. But what if such promotion directly benefitted the reader who took advantage of it. Would it still contravene blog protocol? Then, what if the offer in question purported to offer ‘something for nothing’. Should it be a case of where’s the catch, because someone, somehow, somewhere will pay a price even if it’s not the recipient of the free offer.

In spite of the above I intend to conclude this piece , by making an offer, where there is no apparent direct or indirect cost to the recipient. The offer is a free brand audit complete with full findings and recommendations. Those still reading and paying attention may accept the offer at face value. But the question will inevitably arise, ‘what do I have to do to qualify? And at this point the learned ones, previously referred to, are proven to be correct.

To receive your ‘free’ brand audit you would need to spend around two hours with us and be prepared to be as candid as possible, without giving away any trade secrets. And as we all know time is money. So even if you apply a relatively modest hourly rate, there’s a price to pay. However, if our offer sounds like an opportunity to challenge your company’s view of its brand, simply contact Jeff our Head of Brand Strategy and he’ll take things from there.

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