The Word by Sonder and Tell. Writing Worth Reading
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The first stage of Sonder & Tell's strategic process is to sink deep into research. You know: interviewing stakeholders, analysing competitors and checking out the brand category. But we also make time to immerse ourselves in the real, surrounding world and pull insights and patterns from less obvious places. 


Strategist Duncan Dodds says: "Insights are frequently not gained from a deep emotional understanding of the ‘consumer’ but from the context / environment they inhabit and engage with the product / service brand." 


To find the really interesting insights, we go down rabbit holes, follow tangential conversations, tune into culture and observe the mundane happenings of our everyday lives. Recent shares in our Slack include an article on urban mining, a first-person monologue from the point of view of a beanie hat and a think piece on the boundless optimism of the Spice Girls. We call it: The Vortex.

Eventually, we get to a space where we see references everywhere. Cue shared Instagram posts: "This is so Popsa!!!" Big shout out to the frequency illusion – learn something new and it shows up all over. 


Think of it this way: when you read a story that lacks detail, it makes for a bland and uninspiring experience. But set the scene vividly, pepper the story with 'oh yeah!' details, and show an understanding of the characters, and you’ll bring the story to life in a way that moves and inspires. Apply this thinking to brand stories, and it becomes apparent that entering The Vortex is an essential part of world-building – so long as you can pull that insight back out and into something that makes sense in the real world too. Clarity after the storm.


Our advice to you is lean into The Vortex. Note down unusual observations. Keep an ear out for passing conversations. Make connections. Keep digging until you find gold.

Want us to spin insights into brand stories?

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“We’re always on a safari. Like insatiable bounty hunters, we seek insights all day every day, not just at/for work but in life too.”

― Rhiannon Lowe, Strategist
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Researchers often find inspiration in unexpected corners of their personal lives. And founders often start their businesses in a similar way – they come up against a problem in their day-to-day lives and use that personal insight to create change. For Sophie Baron, founder of Mamamade, the problem was in the baby food aisle. When she had her daughter, she wanted her to have the very best, but couldn’t find any baby food brands free from harmful chemicals found in shelf-stable, processed food. She took things into her own hands and transformed what started out as a side-hustle into a thriving business now use by more than 70,000 parents.
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While most footwear brands try to up the appeal with sleek shapes and extra cushioning, Vivobarefoot does the opposite. The brand started with one clear insight – ‘barefoot footwear is regenerative to human health’ – and blended it with a product truth: its shoes are modelled as close to barefoot as possible. The result? A powerful brand story about reconnecting with nature and living a life less sedentary. Less padding, more feeling.
Write down one interesting observation from your day. Dig deeper and ask: who is this relevant to and why? What category or brand could this insight be useful to?

Hit reply to submit your prompt
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You're Not Listening: What You're Missing and Why It Matters – Kate Murphy

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Conversation About Anxiety – Sarah Wilson

… or browse the Sonder & Tell team’s favourite books on


5 Interesting Facts About Insight Hunters – Sweathead 

Might as Well be Spies – The Creative Study 

The Importance of Barefoot Shoes with Galahad Clark – Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Browse our page to see what the team is reading and a few of our favourite brand and copywriting books. When you buy from you're supporting independent bookstores. And we're donating the 10% affiliate cut from our store to BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity. 

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