OPX

The Timber Yard
53 Drysdale Street
London N1 6ND

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A traditional Christmas?

A traditional Christmas?

This year we celebrated 20 years of life as OPX. We share this anniversary with the first text message, which was sent on the 3rd December 1992. In twenty years it's saved lives, ruined romances and driven strict grammarians to distraction. Now, LOL for everyone other than Prime Ministers, texting is starting to decline, under threat from newer, smarter options.

Not all technology seems to be under threat from data though. Amazon says sales of fountain pens so far this year have doubled compared with the same period in 2011. They're four times higher than 2010.

There is something similar happening here. For every 100 hardbacks Amazon sell, 114 ebooks are downloaded. We're surprised the margin isn't greater, but as so often happens, the figures aren't the whole story.

In an interview with the BBC, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said: "When people buy a Kindle they read four times as much as they did before they bought the Kindle." He added: "But they don't stop buying paper books. Kindle owners read four times as much, but they continue to buy both types of books."

Alongside the SMS inspired death of handwriting and conversation, many want to place the death of reading at Kindle's door. We have a horrible feeling such commentators mean 'the kind of reading of which we approve'. As JK Rowling found out when highbrow critics decried millions of kids reading Harry Potter books on the grounds they lacked literary merit, there seems to be a lot of missing the point going round.

We were asked recently in a workshop if tone of voice principles should change for twitter. Such principles are based on brand values, helping bring them to life in language and personality. Do our values change because circumstances do? Do our principles go out the window because the medium is different or challenging?

Some things are better said, or written or read on paper, some better suited to screens. Some messages measured, others instant. Our task for brands and their tone voice is to give them the tools and flexibility to be consistently effective in all of them.

Which - to go back to the question asked in our workshop - means this. In the face of change, some things stay the same. Knowing who we are, what we believe in, why we're in business, the kind of people we are. The value of knowing these things doesn't change. If you like, it's why we still buy fountain pens.

And that first SMS? It simply said: 'Merry Christmas.'