Certain quarters of the biosphere are burning white hot with comments on OWE (all negative as far as I can tell). So, rather chastened by John Grant's thoughtful contribution, I thought I should offer up more than my glib initial response to M&C's new Big Idea.
Which brings me to Russell Davies recent post on the tyranny of all things big and idea-y (He, can you see where this is going?!). I won't go into details, as it is well worth reading in full, but he did make the point that, though the best big ideas can seem very simple at face value, in fact they are actually rather nebulous, broad and limitlessly flexible (see 'Just Do It'). He talked about concepts like this being giant buckets for holding lots of small ideas, which I think is a rather good way of looking at it.
Which does provide a different POV on the one(ish) word equity debate. If, as Saatchi seems to be proposing, you are looking for that perfect, diamond sharp word (it doesn't exist by the way) which you then use to impose rigid and literal consistency across your business, like a linguistic a rod of iron (or straitjacket), then I vehemently disagree. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a simple, easy to grasp concept to act as a lose anchor for all you do, but where there is the flexibility to interpret and execute this in many different ways, then I have more sympathy.
It's a bit like countries. The capital city may, in some loose sense, define what a country stands for, but that doesn't mean everyone has to live there, or that everywhere else has to model themselves on it. So London may anchor England in some way, but England is also Oxford, Manchester, Barnsley etc. All are different and unique in their own right...but all still fit with and add something to the brand that is 'England'.
Which is what brands are like as well - too simple and consistent and you become simplistic and boring. And, ultimately, inflexible. Without losing coherence (which IS important, where consistency is a red Herring), the world we live in requires brands and businesses to riff on different versions of their story at different times, and for different people. You can't do that if your story only has one word, and your song, one note.
And any way, if M&C had the courage of their convictions, shouldn't they have called this 'one' or 'word' (oops, there I go again).