Brand planners have to get out of the building. And they should even leave their computers home from time to time. “Atmosphere” is one of the key tools of the planner. It’s where senses other than the ears take over and instill. You can’t smell fear in an interview. You can’t experience unbridled joy while typing interview responses. Atmosphere creates in situ observations and muscle memory for planners and ethnographers. Where deeds and proof emerge that stick with you when it comes time to write your brief or organize your thoughts.
Part of my discovery is interviewing people – absolutely with the computer at my fingertips. I complain about my typing ability to which cohorts ask “Why don’t you use a voice reorder?” My reply: “If it’s not important enough to type, it’s probably not going to make it in the brief.” If the interviewee is going too quickly to capture everything, I slow them down and ask for a redo. It’s the same with atmosphere. The stuff that flies by isn’t as important as the stuff that sticks. (This ability may be an innate planner good-at.) Observing what’s important versus what’s not. Things the eyes see. The schnoz smells. The tones the ears compels.
Staring at a computer screen or paper notes is not atmosphere. Atmosphere is sensual. Get some before you start organizing.