Updated December 2020 with relevant links for our uncertain times
As designers and marketers for trade shows and other dimensional spaces, we often encounter reasons as to why an idea or a concept will not gain momentum.
We are used to hearing phrases like “I am not sure my boss will like it.” “I don't have the authority.” “We can't take the chance.” “We have always done it this way.” “This is just a passing trend.” “I am all for it, but...”.
You get the point. We are too happy to wallow in the safe zone of status quo.
Now, the status quo has been challenged. Covid-19 is forcing us to re-think how we do business. This pandemic has created the kind of chaos that necessitates innovation and adaptation.
Good thing is, designers are taking the matter seriously. They are using this pandemic as opportunity for a passionate reset. And given the challenging shape of 2020, the design trends of 2021 may offer us the biggest breath of fresh air yet.
The Elusive Dance of Passion and Reason
As human beings we have been endowed with the power to reason.
We use it for the smallest detail in our daily survival to the highest abstraction in conducting business.
“From the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have, comes from one attribute of man — the function of his reasoning mind.”
Ayn Rand was a eternal champion of the power of reason.
The very essence of her philosophy, “Objectivism” stresses the concept of happiness as the moral purpose of a mans' life, “with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”
However, she also realized that nothing moves without passion. She says,“throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. The great creators, the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors-stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.”
What is Reason? What is Passion? Can they Work Together?
Central to Enlightenment movement of the 17th and the 18th century, were the use and celebration of reason, the power by which humans understand the universe and improve their own condition. The goals of rational humanity were considered to be knowledge, freedom, and happiness.
Reason is a process of observing and understanding the world around us, systematically applying rules of logic and experimentation and generating conclusions that others can follow.
For example, during this pandemic, brands had to be relevant to their audience. Else, they would be tuned out. It is this reason for relevancy that compelled them to seek passionate ways to reach out to their audience. They did it in by offering innovative services and often collaborating with competition.
Passion is commonly used to refer to strong emotions of any type.
To me, passion is not one, but a jumble of emotions – excitement, anticipation, curiosity, desire, love, joy, anger, wonder and empathy – that motivate us to venture deeper and deeper into particular avenues of our interest defined by the passion.
For example, the movement of bitcoin and other crypto currencies that evolved from the ashes of the 2008 financial crisis, was a passionate outburst against the traditional financial institutions that found its' manifestation in the novel blockchain technology — a far cry from the 500 year old banking system established by the Medici family.
These emotions motivate us to move beyond our comfort zone, provide us with the dedication and commitment to build capabilities in certain fields over extended periods of time and help us ultimately to achieve the potential that resides within each of us. We become passionate explorers in our life journey motivated by a desire to gain new insight into a particular domain by working with others to drive performance to new levels.
So, how do passion and reason reinforce each other?
“Think of agency versus structure. Passion provides the first by generating energy and creating a sense of freedom. Reason provides the latter by imposing constraint and discipline.”
Without structure, agency becomes an aimless whirlwind of activity, constantly distracted by the bright lights of momentary insights, but unable lend form, function and finesse. And, of course, without agency, structure remains an inert mass, sinking deeper and deeper into the ground below it, seeing but unable to explore the world around it.
It is the job of passion to empower you with a higher purpose. A purpose, that defines and raises your reason of existence.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” Patanjali
Kahlil Gibran in his classic book, “The Prophet”, put it eloquently:
Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.
If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.
For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion, that it may sing;
And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.
Mind is a powerful mechanism.
“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.”
Human beings are limited only by what we allow ourselves to be limited by: our own minds.
In our minds, we participate in this dance of passion and reason — a symphony of fire and ice in varying fahrenheit.
To realize our full potential, we need to integrate passion and reason in our play and in our work. Reason alone, is cold, calculating, confining and “passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.”
Next time, you encounter, “we do not have budget for it” or “we have never done it that way”, be electrified by the passion of your creative solution but be armed by the sword of your reason. Give it 200% - but be prepared for stumbling blocks. Be alert and pay attention to those stumbling blocks. You will see your passion did not fail you.
It has sprout new shoots in the most diffident projects and ideas.
As we oscillate between passion and reason, I leave you with this thought:
Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, “God rests in reason.”
And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky - then let your heart say in awe, “God moves in passion.”
And since you are a breath in God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion. Kahil Gibran
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Resting in magnificence, between passionate red and optimistic yellow, is the fun flamboyant orange. It evokes a contradiction in dualism. It is a "love me' or a "hate me" color. Orange is that color that has manifested in our reality as an envoy of safety as well as an agent of death. It is the requirement of OSHA that certain construction equipment and accessories be painted safety orange. Dioxin in Agent Orange is known to cause cancer, birth defects and dysfunction.
The psychological effect of orange is instantaneous. It screams attention and haste. It gives strength and energy to your visuals, delivering an instant impression that is most often universally understood. Orange work wonders in chaotic market places like trade shows. It exudes energy and confidence and stimulates activity. It is often called the "silent salesperson" for it encourages people to gather and socialize. It also inspires physical confidence and individualistic independence.
Orange is a high-arousal color. It relates to the primal gut instincts. It is the color of the Sacral Chakra. It is the seat of our inherent creativity. The energy associated with orange brings about increased feeling of motivation, well-being, positive thinking and inner joy. Perhaps, that is the reason the color choice is saffron for the sages and seers, since the beginning of time.
Use orange to stimulate your appetite and your performance.
Orange is always on the move. Orange brings out the extrovert in you and releases you of your inhibitions, often encouraging you to express your inner calling. It is the color of adventure. Use it as your guide. It will not fail you.
Find yourself. Be the blazing trendsetter that you are!
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"Of all those in the army close to the commander none is more intimate than the secret agent; of all rewards none more liberal than those given to secret agents; of all matters none is more confidential than those relating to secret operations." Sun Tzu
We live in an Age of Knowledge. The competitive edge lies no longer only in gaining new sales lead or finding new partners and alliances. Gaining competitive intelligence over your industry, customer, competitor, suppliers, and potential partners are the new prerequisites of your competitive advantage and your marketing managers are the secret agents of this new battlefield. The goal of competitive intelligence is to convert raw data into something that can lead to a competitive asset. It gives you insights into what might happen in the near future. This process requires that we go from data to information to intelligence. Here is a basic example:
Data = Prices for our products have dropped by 5%
Information = New offshore facilities have lower labor costs
Intelligence = Our key competitor is about to acquire a facility in India that will . .
The differences between data, information, and intelligence can be subtle, but very real:
Data = Unconnected pieces of information: Nice to know, but so what!
Information = Increased knowledge derived by understanding the relationships of data: Interesting, but how does it relate to what I do!
Intelligence = Organizing the information to fully appreciate the implications and impact on the organization: Oh really, then we better do something!
Given this relationship between data, information and intelligence, now you are armed to visit your competitors' trade show booth and ask them questions on:
Product/service features and benefits.
Recent product/service introductions and upgrades.
Installation and maintenance.
Pricing strategies: commercial, non-profit, governmental
Special pricing policies - do they offer: credit, discounts, incentives, consignments.
Corporate and business philosophy
Be gracious and subtle. Remember: “Knowledge is what you are after. Information is the raw material you use. Intelligence is what finds and processes information.” The Intelligence Edge by George Friedman, Meredith Friedman, Colin Chapman and John S. Baker, Jr.
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Before moving forward, take a look at the above illustration.
Take your time. What do you think it is?
Now check out here what it really is?
The fine orange sticky dust that settles onto our fingers when mindlessly snacking on the guilty pleasures, is perhaps not the first thing that comes to our mind when we start exploring neuroscience, that which has given rise to not so new wave of marketing called neuromarketing.
After scanning the brains of a carefully chosen group of consumers, in 2008 it was discovered that the "icky coating triggers an unusually powerful response in the brain: a sense of giddy subversion that consumers enjoy over the messiness of the product." Frito-Lay leveraged that information into its advertising campaign for Cheetos, which has made the most out of the brains' response to the mess. NeuroFocus, the company behind the research earned a Grand Ogilvy award for advertising research for "demonstrating the most successful use of research in the creation of superior advertising that achieves a critical business objective."
The capturing of the synaptic brain waves seems to be the ultimate promise of neuromarketing. It takes about half a second for the sub-conscious to react to a stimulus received by the brain. During this vital time frame, the sub-conscious mind is free from memories and cultural convictions. It is in a state of primal potency: not polluted social norms and cultural beliefs. It is in this state that the cheese flavored orange dust of Cheetos seems pretty adventurous. However, once this action moves to the conscious level, the artificially flavored and colored MSG dust is, kind of repulsive.
"I bet you, long ago if you looked at cave paintings, there were a bunch of Cro-Magnon men and women sitting around a fire in focus groups wondering whether to go hunt mastodon that night," says A. K. Pradeep, founder and CEO of NeuroFocus. "Today, our focus groups are no different." Being under the constant pressure of political correctness, we have denied ourselves the inner truth. Pradeep believes he can get at the truth.
Read more about the players of neuromarketing who are spending millions to find out what you like and why like it. Explore how you can use the research to further your trade show marketing efforts.
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Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Franz Kafka