When animators, and often times writers, wish to show an internal, emotional state, they’re forced to look for and use “objective correlatives.”  In other words, they have to use the outward cues and signs that correspond to the emotion.

And just as importantly, they then have to “animate” those cues and signs through a form of artistic exaggeration. For instance, when a man sees an excruciatingly attractive woman, his pupils will dilate, his eyes will widen, and his heart will race a bit, or “skip a beat.”  This is all relatively subtle (even if the attendant leering and head snapping is not), but subtle is not how animators need to do things.  So this is how they represent it:

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Understand that this is not just crude exaggeration, but instead represents a process of:

  1. Finding the right cues and signs (aka small specific details) for a given emotion, reaction, or situation
  2. Exaggerating those cues and signs through the animation principle of Squash and Stretch.

Applying This to Your Marketing

When asked what makes them different, unique, and better, a whole lot of Main Street Businesses end up with the response that “we care about the customer,” or “we simply provide better quality and better service.”  

Yet while it’s wonderful that they do care — I wouldn’t want to write ads for a business owner who didn’t, frankly — you simply can’t put that in your advertising and expect results.

So what do you do?

You look for the objective correlates and you apply some squash and stretch.

In other words, what are the signs and cues of your caring and your superior quality?  Caring is an internal state on your part. How does the customer end up sensing or experiencing that care?  What actions do you take and what sacrifices do you make because you care?

If you insist on higher quality, how does that play out in the construction process?  How does that impact the customers experience of your product?  In what ways would they be sorry if they didn’t get that higher level of quality?

Now exaggerate and animate these things in your advertising. So let’s suppose you own a bakery that specializes in donuts and, well, you really care about the quality of your donuts.  And one of the objective correlatives of that is that you’re willing to get up at an ungodly hour in order to ensure that your morning customers will get freshly made donuts each day. Here’s what a little squish and squash might do for you:

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If the squish and squash part seems a bit tricky, you’re right to think so — it IS tricky.  And if you’re guessing this doesn’t just apply to the ads, but to the business itself, you’re guessing right on that as well.  Creating some objective correlatives and then exaggerating them a bit is a big part of imputing quality and “learning to think like the customer.”  More on this later : )


  1. Animate Your Business | Jeff Sexton Writes on 03.31.2014

    […] only is it pos­si­ble to ani­mate your adver­tis­ing with the proven car­toon­ing prin­ci­ples of squish and squash, but it works even bet­ter when […]