Change ... is Lord of the Universe. Everything is in a state of becoming, of continual flux. [Heraclitus, Panta Rhei]
There is a concept in Buddhism called anicca. It means impermanence is the bedrock on which everything thrives. It is this single word that is the core of Buddha's teaching. Everything is in a state of movement. Change is the only permanence. The great master, the "Knower of the Worlds" flourished some 2500 years ago. Yet, his teaching of dynamic reality propels us to achieve material gain with amazing success. He has successfully handed you the master key to open any door you wish, to fulfill any desire you have.
If change is the only constant of this material reality then growth is your only option to survive as a business. Because, as brand marketers, we all know that preferences change, demographics shift and somewhere along the way customers has to be replaced. In the face of this continuous state of becoming, you have to constantly evolve, re-package re-wire your brand perception. The GM story of becoming is still very vivid in my mind. From being the legendary company that once sold half of the cars on block, overnight the company was forced into a yard sale with Saab, Opel and Hummer. 2008 marked the collapse of the old way of doing business and companies like GM were forced to carve out a new and essential discipline: brand renewal. On the flip side of the coin, Toyota is the brand that lives and breathes the principle of becoming and renewal.
How do you stay centered in the swing of inevitable changes?
Holistic brand wisdom from the master himself.
“Resolutely train yourself to attain peace.” ― Gautama Buddha
The Buddha says, peace can only be achieved by understanding and embracing impermanence. It…"comes from within. Do not seek it without.” This holds true in understanding your self and in understanding your brand proposition. Define the core purpose of your brand with clarity. Strong brands grow from the core. It is about understanding the context where the brand resides. When obesity, diabetes and heart disease became the public outcry of our times, the global icon McDonald's responded by revisiting its core and came up with an evolved brand promise. “Simple, easy, enjoyment” expresses the classic McDonald’s proposition–good foods, delivered quickly. However, it went further by giving the brand permission to translate that promise into something more in context for today–fresh salads, new menus highlighting calories intakes and gourmet coffee. McDonald’s has peacefully evolved because it grew from the core.
Having a Plan B in place is another critical factor in attaining your individual peace and sustaining the vitality of your brand. Build contingencies in place, to deal with the unknowns and uncertainties. The Buddha literally advised married couples to buy property insurance to deal with the unknowns of flood and fire. I kid you not! Check it out. Anguttara Nikaya 8:49; IV 269-71
“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” ― Gautama Buddha
"There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder." It is fear that haunts you like a mistress paralyzing your potential to evolve and touch your wisdom. Fear is the enemy of creation, fear is the enemy of innovation. Fear is the comfort of staying within the known faculties. Being fearless, you meet your expanded yourself—you are onto something bigger. When you are on this quest "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.” You inspire your customers. Your brand becomes a powerhouse of new ideas that are sought after by new businesses..
Apple is a clear example of a brand that is fearless to demand premium price because it fearlessly shouts out loud and clear “man should not be subservient to machine.” The campaign "Talk to Chuck" embodies the principle of fearlessness by the brand Charles Schwab. The brand fearlessly courts investors who felt disrespected by other financial outfits.
“I don’t have to qualify to get guidance. I just get it.” Understanding your clients' emotions gives you a competitive edge. Fearlessly skate the edge!
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” ― Gautama Buddha
It is intellect that puts ideas in the form of thoughts, gathering and organising the thoughts at the same time. There are great ideas which lie beyond the ordinary human mentality, which can put on all possible forms. These great ideas tend to descend, they want to manifest themselves in precise forms. These precise forms are the thoughts; and generally it is this, I believe, that is meant by intellect: it is this that gives thought-form to the ideas. Centre for Consciousness Studies
How does this high philosophy apply to your brand nourishment?
When you think of Tide, you think of it as a cleaning agent that does a pretty good job. But did you know that Tide is a "biochemical masterpiece, without technical peer in the detergent world." It all happened because of an idea that was contradictory to the accepted science of the day. Who knew that reducing the proportion of cleaning agent would form the chemical basis of the popular detergent. "No one could figure out why it worked, but it worked." Moral of the story invest in customer-focused innovation. At the end of the day it gives you the economic leverage specially during the times of economic hardship.
"The greatest quality is seeking to serve others."
"The greatest precept is continual awareness."
"The greatest action is not confirming with the worlds ways."
"The greatest magic is transmuting the passions."
"The greatest generosity is non-attachment."
"The greatest patience is humility."
"The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances."
A brand that adheres to these precepts is a brand that stands the test of time. It stands on the high ground of transparency, authenticity and accountability.
Question to ponder. Does my brand make the cut?
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"We are not just passing into another historical period or another cultural modification.......But more specifically we are terminating the last 65 million years of life development." Thomas Berry, historian philosopher
The universe is constantly coming into being through irreversible steps of transformations; from a lesser to a greater order of complexity, from a lesser to a higher mode of consciousness. [This thinking holds true only if you subscribe to linear theory of evolution, which is opposite of cyclical evolutionary theory...well that is another conversation for another time]. It has been professed by social scientists that genetically we are very different from our forefathers some 200 generations ago as they were different from the Neanderthals. "What we are catching is an exceptional time." This growing complexity is evident in our social lives and in our business lives. Needles to say, if you are a brand marketer you are in for the ride of your lifetime: you have umpteen different social media sites to peddle your stuff and unnumbered "How To" blog sites to master one single craft. To compound that, new social media tools are launching every day and new marketing best practices are emerging every minute of your waking lives.
But you are not alone.
Get this, 90% of people move between devices to accomplish one single goal. Talk about a disjointed social culture on the verge of total disarray. It is like we have been handed over the technology of the gods without being primed for it.
As marketers, is sanity an achievable alternative? The short answer is yes.
If we take a step back from this massive marketing permutation and combination that is going on every second of the day
and focus on the human currency of our business and cultivate them we create tangible value for ourselves and our businesses. "Hidden in Plain Sight is Today's Greatest Overlooked Growth Opportunity ... It is our Customers."
Bill Lee, author of The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset maintains that once you identify your star customers and nurture them in such a fashion that increases their personal value proposition, you now have re-defined your relationship and transformed your customers into your brand advocates and key influencers in your industry. He calls this community marketing. Because, you are helping your customers build reputation that help them expand their support groups and build communities.
Cash rewards, discounts or 'try it before you buy it' is the game of marketing as we know it. It is usually tailored towards customer life time value which is based on how much money they are prepared to spend. On the other hand, customer-centric marketing increases customers' life time value. It helps build their social capital, increases their reputation and gives them access to new treasure trove of ideas. "This new concept of building customer advocates, peer influence-based, community-oriented marketing, hold much greater promise for creating sustained growth through authentic customer relationships."
How do you do it.
Each industry is different. However, there are some basic principles that can be enacted across all industries.
Identify Industry Trends: Create a space (virtual or face to face) in your customer community and set up an exercise that identifies trends and insights of your industry. Trade shows and events are great venues where you may single out such trends. Bring forth those ideas to your marketing team to discuss product enhancements, service improvements and rewiring of brand proclamation if needed. Infusing your internal team with these ideas will advance your business with customers in mind always, all the time.
Here is how Amazon does it: Jeff Bezos periodically leaves one seat open at a conference table and informs all attendees that they should consider that seat occupied by their customer, “the most important person in the room.”
Create pixel spaces for your different product or services. Populate these spaces with FAQs. Links these spaces with popular social media channels. Make it very simple for your customers to navigate to these different groups from the home base. Ask your customers what improvements they would like to see on the offered products. This helps build brand loyalty. Give your customers a reason to visit the community. Make good use of it. This is your platform to highlight customer success stories. It’s also a great way to get your customers to be your brand evangelist. Some collaboration platforms for your knowledge, product and brand communities that you might consider is Jive and Akiva
Empower your customers to be co-creators: Encourage your customers to contribute in white paper study to build their reputation. Encourage them to blog, share and tweet stories. This helps build individual authority and circles back to the primary goal of creating customer advocates.
Partner with your customers to build videos and webinars that illustrates how your customers' business have been impacted as a result of smart choices that she has made with your help. Gradually, as you build a network of rock star customers, you host local events and participate in trade shows to bring such advocates together with prospects and media people.
Developing a thriving customer community keeps your bottom line on target and makes your top marketing dollars accountable. At the end of the day, your goal as a marketer is to create new opportunities for your business. One, sure fire way to do so, is to sustain your focus on ROR factor as postulated by Ted Rubin (return on relationship) and echoed by Bill Lee. ROR is a robust virtuous cycle in which you, (the marketer) provide them (your customers) with superior value and they (your customers), in turn, enrich your company.
At the end of the day, you have taken control of your sanity. You have stayed true to your focus. Your life is enriched because you have helped another person flourish ... Atlast, you kick back and as you get to marvel at your own greatness, you come to "admit there is something glorious about being you."
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"You market when you hire and when you fire. You market when you call tech support, and you market every time you send a memo." This is the perennial face of marketing. It transcends culture, community, space and time.
What has changed today, is the different streams in marketing. We have a garden variety of choices. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube; just to name a few are the channels through which our messages are dished out. "Inbound" is the refreshing concept in digital marketing, engagement is the sustenance of it and delivering delight is the ultimate target of todays' marketers. Digital marketing dominates our lives. We are inundated with never-ending stream of emails, instant messages, text messages, and tweets that has given way to mediocrity leading to diminished creativity and stifled critical thinking. Keep in mind, these are the marketing messages that we have all opted in. The result: We all suffer from this new disease called, digital distraction.
One of the articles published by moz.com Offline is the New Online Link Building Strategy talks about a physical event that was hosted by a high-end European fashion retailer and how the event was designed to draw attention to their brand and distributed across the social channels. Today, these events are considered offline link building, but prior to the internet it was simply called public relations. Back in the 1920s when the PR genius Edward Barneys was hired to rally more women to smoke, he devised the NYC Eater Sunday Parade-"Torches of Freedom". Today, instead of having a photographer taking the pictures and then distributing around the world; he would have used the technological eco-sphere of hashtags and Instagram.
Today, we have the infinite space of the internet. [Our finite minds are finally starting to grasp the concept of infinity.]
But, we miserably fail to draw people's attention. Partly because, we are all swimming in the sea of sameness. Making advertising messages stand out is the scorching challenge of marketers today. The life span of your twitter message is 90 mins and your Facebook update is 3 hours. Hence, the dire need for your messages to strike an emotional chord. Your Facebook updates, your tweets need to have triggers built in so that people take action. It should be no different than putting an ad in the trade magazine that prompts one to take action. In fact, you can do better than that. Follow the 10:4:1 Rule. [For every 15 of your social media updates, 10 should be pieces of other people's content, 4 should be your own blog articles, and 1 should be a landing page.]
What is the Key Differentiator in Marketing Today: It is You, the Marketer
It is no longer the few, the powerful and the furious who shapes our collective destiny as a species. It is you who choose the destiny of your tribe. With so much marketing data available at the click of your mouse, targeting the right buyers at the right time is of key importance now. "Marketing was inefficient without the intelligence that is commonplace with most marketing and advertising platforms. When marketers began to decrease their print ad spending, it wasn’t because print advertising was a bad idea; it was just less intelligent compared to most digital platforms." Today, the ability to target individuals based on their behavior and interests is the key difference between then and now. Today, you have the option to use Cloud2You or MarketSync, which deliver mail to individuals based on behavior. The keyword here is behavior.
Fusing the Old and the New
While we have established that the kernel of marketing is essentially the same amidst the changing media landscape, we now have to focus on the creativity and the strategy of the content that we put on line. We have to craft our messages with the same delicacy and intent as a high-end print ad or that of a Super Bowl Ad. If you’re creating blog posts, eBooks or look books for content marketing purposes, you need to advertise these materials just as you would a free demo or sale. "You need to market your marketing". As C.C. Chapman says: People always seem to forget that little part. Have to prime the pump for those first eyeballs.
It is about time that we move into a mind set that fuses the old and the new paradigm thus ushering the age of post digital fusion marketing. Here we use the different marketing tool sets as and when needed.
Above all, "Our job is to make change. Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go. Every time we waste that opportunity, every page or sentence that doesn’t do enough to advance the cause, is waste." Seth Godin
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It is language that creates the idea of who we are.
Ancient sages and now cutting edge science have now come to the same conclusion: Life is just an idea. Life as we know it does not exist. Only thousand and thousand living processes exist.
There is nothing like life.
Life is not a noun. Life is a verb. Life means living.
Be aware of this moment and you will realize: everything is becoming, nothing is stagnant. Even when you are at rest, there is a process going on, something is happening. You are breathing. Your heart is beating. Everything is in a constant state of happening.
Human energy needs to be in constant flow to remain alive.
You are like the river and more. A river needs to be flowing, changing course in different plains and mountains until it reaches the ocean. But the destination of your life energy is not the ocean. It is a river that is always seeking and searching – and that is finding but there is always more to explore, to experience, to express.
It is this urge for more that makes us aware of the dual aspect of our human nature.
It makes us restless and strikes us with conflict.
Often we find ourselves at the crossroads of selfishness and generosity, love and hate, frailty and strength, hope and despair. We are in a constant state of embracing and accepting these apparent contradictions as the "key to transforming each twist and turn of life's journey into a new discovery of who we are meant to be." In doing so we throttle the wonder that dwells within us...that so desperately wants to find its unique expression through us.
It is said, that before he died, Einstein was asked "If you are born again and God asks you, I am certain you would like to become a great physicist and mathematician again." He said, "No, never! If another opportunity is given to me, rather than being a physicist I would like to become a plumber. I would like to live a very very ordinary kind of life, anonymous, so that I could enjoy life more easily with nobody coming in my way. My fame, prestige, research -- nothing coming in my way, so that I could have a deeper communion with existence."
You are born brilliant. You are an universe unto yourself.
But very soon, you start compromising.
And, when you do so, your talents disappear, your intelligence disappears. The world is not enriched by your unique expression.
"It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open." Martha Graham
Live life slow. Treasure three magic moments every day. Tune in to what’s good in your world. Control the controllables. Load up on compassion, kindness, forgiveness and empathy. Keep on keeping on.
Dare to daydream!
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We are living in exciting times. The concept of traditional marketing is being challenged every day. Fresh waves of ideas are consistently hitting the shores.
The blogosphere is inundated with articles describing the fact that brand equity cannot be linked to actual firm equityor any other recognized financial metric. There is a huge uproar that in a world infused with social-media madness; "traditional marketing and sales not only doesn't work so well, it doesn't make sense." A lot of speculation rolls around the market place as to what is going to replace the old medium; new possibilities of peer influence-based, community-oriented marketing hold much greater promise for creating sustained growth through authentic customer relationships.” In the past, marketing would decide how they want their brand to be perceived amongst their potential buyers and then the message would be forced fed to people via advertisements. Now, the dice has rolled in favor of the consumers! Consumers have more and more technologies like DVRs, caller ID, and spam blockers that enable them to avoid unwanted advertising and messages. This means that, in order to get their attention, you have to earn their permission.
How do you earn it?
One such method is being skilled in the Art of Enticement! Not often used in our everyday vocabulary, enticement is a key factor in trade show marketing, media, public relations as a means of persuasion. Persuasion leverages the art of enticement to achieve a set goal.
Focus on your goal. In our case, decide on why are you going to trade shows. Often, I am told by clients that procuring leads is only one of the factors that dictates them to exhibit. Increasing brand awareness and sustaining brand memorability are some of the dominant factors that urges them to engage in this sort of face-to-face marketing.
Enticement starts at the beginning of the design phase. Design your booth with flow, lighting and augmented presentation. Highlight a concept product. Ask for viewer feed back as to how they will improve on the design (to give an example). Have them participate in your social media channel and digitally carry the conversation beyond the venue. As you do so, always keep in mind marketing is always about them (your clients and prospects), not you.
You always offer your prospects an enticing factor to pay attention to your marketing. The enticement may be a prize for playing a game as simple as: turn the wheel and you get something. It could be knowledge about your industry that prospects consider to be valuable. Perhaps it's membership to a privileged group such as, once a month session with the CMO of your company or an entry into a sweepstakes. It might even be a discount coupon from one of your partners. All you ask in return is permission to market to these people. Nothing more.....
The secret sauce. Give people something great to talk about your brand. Trade shows are great venues where you may access each person as a node in a community and this, my friend is the new era of community marketing.
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When speaking at meetings or being engaged in conversations at conventions and trade shows, the conventional advice for preparing is to tell yourself you're great, there's no way you can fail.
The more effective stratagem: Instead of saying "I'm the best and I can do it," ask "How can I do it?" It's called "interrogative self-talk," and has been shown to be more effective than positive statements alone. Asking questions leads to answers. It gives you strategies for carrying out your task right at the top of your mind, and reminds you of your motivation. Source: To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Welcome to the Age of Enlightenment.
Enlightenment is not about knowing as much as it is about unknowing; it is not so much learning as unlearning. It is about surrendering and letting go rather than achieving and possessing. It’s more about entering the mystery than arriving at a mental certitude …On the Threshold of Transformation
We need a different set of tools to navigate in this new paradigm. "It's multidisciplinary. It involves elements of design, empathy, and symphonic thinking. It's self-directed rather than "managed." And it's animated by a sense of purpose."
Below is a snapshot of 'do's that work!
Smile: It is Contagious
“The world is like a mirror; frown at it, and it frowns at you. Smile and it smiles, too” ― Herbert Samuels
Professor Ruth Campbell, of University College London, professes the idea of 'mirror neuron' in the brain that triggers the part responsible for the recognition of faces and expressions and causes an instant mirroring reaction. In other words, whether we realize it or not, we automatically copy the facial expressions we see. Science has proved that the more you smile, the more positively you will be accepted. This is the baseline when it comes to the Rules of Conduct.
Be Interested. Uphold Transparency
"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen." ― Ernest Hemingway
It easy to read off a script and go into features and benefits. Engaging at trade shows is not about you. It is about them. Inquire about their needs and how you may satisfy them. What are they here for? What are they looking for? Perhaps they are here for the IPAD contest. Listening to your demo is only a pretense. Whatever, that may be, identify it and be transparent in the conversation. Transparency leads to better lead analytics.
Be Interesting. Respond with Humor and Grace.
"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." ― Charles Swindoll
Every potential prospect is a "viral sparkplug". Use targeted words that captures their attention and augments their curiosity. Be brand specific and benefit intended.
Surprise and Delight
"The most delightful surprise in life is to suddenly recognize your own worth." ― Maxwell Maltz
The element of surprise often consists of giving away things for free — “This one’s on the house” — and can make someone's day. The 'coolness' of the "free" give away sparks delight. "A great gift is buzzworthy; it’s organic, it’s exceptional, and it makes people unable to not say something". A surprised person is a delighted one. Word-of-mouth take a life of its own.
Draw a Crowd. Propagate your Brand.
According to convergence theory like-minded people come together to form a crowd. At conventions and trade shows, comedians and tricksters propels the formation of crowds. However, when you pepper their act with the features of your product, observe what happens. The crowd goes through a distillation process. What remains is the cream of the crop. This is what you want.
The Art of KISS
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”― Leonardo da Vinci
We live in an international age of inter-connectivity. We are faced with increased complexities and the need to adapt to the changes is fast and furious. Perhaps to maintain our sanity we are leaning more towards simplicity. Employ simplicity in your exhibit design and in your product presentation. Break down complex ideas and numbers and express them in its simplest form. Simplify your product message to amplify your brand resonance.
The Act of Gratitude
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ―Gilbert Chesterton
Gratitude is the bedrock for building strong code of conduct. Express your commitment. It is not just in your mind but in your heart and gut as well. Thank your customers, appreciate your prospects.
“The New Paradigm requires a leap of consciousness. It invites us to find the balance between rationality and intuition, between inspiration and application. This balance has always been a feature of great geniuses like Leonardo and Edison but now it must become the standard for all.”
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"Twenty years ago, the annual US spend on food and beverages was $614 billion; $2 billion was spent on computers – a ratio of 300 to one. Today, that spending ratio is at parity. We spend as much on technology as we do on our nutritional needs."
- Cheryl Swanson, principal managing partner, Toniq
Let's face it.
Navigating today’s digital marketing landscape can be a daunting task. It is a complex world of mobile, SMS, QR Codes, banners, video, social media, rich media, email ….. you name it. New Media has forged new opportunities to reach consumers anywhere, anytime in stunning ways. One wonders if New Media happens to be the norm of New Marketing, are trade shows still of value in today's economy.
A recent report published by ceir.org confirms that the top-ranked important reasons for attending exhibitions is a blend of coming to see what is new and having a chance to interact with experts. The highest-importance scores are achieved for: see new technology, have the chance to talk to experts and gain industry insights. The research further confirms that exhibitions are doing well in meeting the needs of attendees, with more than a majority of attendees saying their top-ranked important needs are met.
Empowered by such analytics we may now move on to some digital trends that is gaining traction in the world of trade shoes and events. It is a phenomenal way to educate and to entertain the visitors of your booth.
Virtual graffiti wall is a powerful in engaging your audience to realize their inner artist. It allows attendees to literally “paint” on a digital canvas. These interactive art walls encourages laughter and conversation and soon becomes the life your booth. User generated, unique pieces of art can then be leveraged across all your marketing promotions. www.tangibleinteraction.com
Digital signage: It has been pretty popular at trade shows and events. Using your brand visuals across multiple screens creates the high impact and high touch that is needed to entice your audience. Take a signature visual and break it up across multiple moving screens to create unexpected wonder that will enthrall your audience and leave a lasting impression.
Tablet Phenomena: Tablets have changed the way we engage one-to-one and one-to-few. With iPad mini and PaperTab (as thin and flexible as paper), you are no longer confined to the parameters of your floor space. It is a portable branding message on the go. Projection Walls: Has been with us for quite some time. Now, with the flip of a switch you can transform your environment from morning keynote to lunch breaks to an evening reception. Projection make it fun, attractive and memorable.
Interactive Media: High touch, high technology, high design goes into play for this compelling experience. Interactive product and brand messages is programmed to respond to motion-based body gestures. stratacache.com/press.php?ID=369
Your booth is the stage that anchors your space. It is your show. Make it fun. Make it memorable. Make it interactive.
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The common phrase, "united we stand, divided we fall" has long been used by nations and leaders to inspire people in presence of clear and imminent danger. However, when it comes to laying out the floor plan for your trade show booth design in a limited space (e.g 20' x 30' as shown above), distinctly dividing the floor space in to two unique areas, 'Love' and 'Work' might be a good idea to propel your brand into action.
I was reading a great post the other day that spawned the idea for this article. The HBR blog post suggest that the age of snarkiness is behind us and now we are in the era of sweet love. The post successfully points out as to what is wrong with the Sonic commercial and dubs it as ineffective since it hinges on sarcasm not sweetness.
Sweetness is back. Sweetness is big. Sweetness, against all odds, and quite against character, is having a celebrity moment. Brands gain huge currency when leading with sweetness. This trend in exhibiting sweet love is evident in the amount of space that are devoted to lounges and the so called hang out areas. Grant McCracken, writer and anthropologist, in his book Culturematic, talks about brand that makes headway are the brands that fosters co-creation. He says we want brands that are works in progress, engagements in and of the world. Brands need to be about becoming, not about being. The carefully designed hang out areas in your space can be a Culturematic cluster– a bundle of experiences, "investigating the world in a variety of ways, defined with enough intellectual generosity that several outcomes—some of them quite different–are possible". And if you are exhibiting at trade shows with horizontal target audience 'Cuturematic' might just be the way to go. After all, "culturematic is a little experiment that in a playful counter-intuitive way, broaches a kind of what if." It is a great way to keep the engagement going both at the show floor and after the show.
If one half of your exhibit design is an ideal setting for Culturematic cluster devote the other half for customized demonstration. Demos at trade shows are essentially futile unless it is designed to solve specific problems that customers encounter. To help better cater to your clients and prospects, do your research and find out what are the attendees trying to accomplish by coming to a specific event. What are their pain points. Heck, send out tweets asking them about it. Find out what solutions are being adopted in other industries or other countries to solve similar problems. Armed with answers you then design few presentations that talks about solving targeted problems.
Trade shows and are fertile grounds to ignite new brand culture. Wouldn't it be great if you knew the kind of content that is being shared by the attendees of these events. You can then gauge the commonly held beliefs and behaviors of your clients and prospects. Very soon you will find out if there is a contradiction of some sort. Once you detect it, your brand will gain transformational traction on a evolutionary scale. Of course, you will highlight the preference to build recognition. But what is really enticing is tapping into the collective anxiety and achieving a status that transcends functional benefit. One great example that comes to mind is Google. In the age of digital clutter, Google offers empowerment “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Question to ponder: How do I humanize my next trade show exhibit?
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“Don't just be a consumer, be a creator. Somewhere inside you is a masterpiece waiting to be exposed.” As an exercise to find how this 'thing' called 'creativity' works, I venture out in this audacious journey to demystify creativity. The 4 nuggets that I jot down here is my very humble way to harness creativity. Perhaps you ask, "harnessing creativity? How very arrogant." After all, Buddha sitting under the Bodhi Tree doing apparently nothing is the grand master of creation that the planet has ever known.
Be insanely curious about anything and everything. As Arne Dietrich, Professor of Psychology mentions creativity can be deliberate and cognitive. That means you have to be perpetually on the lookout for information that is new and happening. Every 'bit of information' that is specially not part of your core discipline when combined with other knowledge nurtures the seed of creativity. As Professor Dietrich puts it, deliberate and cognitive creativity comes from the PFC in your brain. The PFC is responsible for focused attention and connecting the dots between information that you have stored in the other parts of the brain. When the nobel laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus reversed the circle of "low income, low saving & low investment", into a circle of "low income, injection of credit, investment, more income, more savings, more investment, more income" he put together existing information in new and novel ways being extremely deliberate and cognitive in his creation.
”Prisoners who never wrote a word in the days of their freedom will write on any paper they can lay hands on,” says Dorothea Brande in her classic, Becoming A Writer. ”Innumerable books have been begun by patients lying on hospital beds, sentenced to silence and refused reading.” Furiously unplug while you’re incubating your project. Spend time with yourself in solitude. It is the fertilizer for your creative crop. Spend time on yourself doing something festive. Set an Artist Date for yourself. Visit museums and monasteries, hike through widerness, attend "lectures on the odd, the improbable, or merely interesting… participate in musical performances by traveling Tibetan monks"...or do that which brings you in touch with yourself. This creates a rich tapestry of new images, thoughts and perspectives that gets seeded in your subconscious, to be revealed when you are at emotional crossroads. This gives rise to what Professor Dietrich says deliberate emotional creativity.
“Those who do not know the torment of the unknown cannot have the joy of discovery.” The Art of Scientific Investigation, a must read by W.I.B Beveridge In this book, he explores the minds of the most famous scientists of watershed discoveries. His conclusion: serendipity, intuition, and imagination displays the habits of mind that produce good ideas." "[Intuition] is always in response to something.” When Frederick Kekule's (1829 - 1896) saw the dream of a snake coiled and biting its tail; in an intuitive flash, he realized that the molecular structure was characterized by a ring of carbon atoms. It is important to recognize that Kekule was immersed in the problem of how atoms combine to form molecules, and he was focused on benzene. Intuitive outcomes are prolific when there is a strong emotional focus and intention to solve a specific issue.
This "eureka" moment of a sudden flash of knowledge is what Professor Dietrich calls spontaneous and cognitive creativity. It involves the basal ganglia of the brain that operates outside your conscious awareness. "Out of box thinking" requires the conscious brain to stop working. By doing this, your subconscious takes the driver seat and the PFC is activated in connecting information in new and novel ways.
“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” Leonardo Vinci.
Creative inspiration is mysterious. When the conscious brain and the PFC are resting, it is then possible for spontaneous ideas and creations to happen. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sums it up very well.
”When I am… completely myself, entirely alone and of good cheer — say, traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly.
“Whence and how they come, I know not; nor can I force them. Those ideas that please me I retain in memory…[and] if I continue in this way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that morsel to account…
All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodised and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance… What a delight this is I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream.”
Amygdala is the seat of spontaneous and emotional creativity. These spontaneous and emotional creative moments are very powerful, such as an epiphany, or a religious experience. This type of creativity is not cognitive. But often skill (writing, artistic, musical) is needed to create something from the spontaneous and emotional creative idea. As Professor Dietrich mentions, you cannot design for this experience to happen. It is spontaneous!
"Each man comes into this world with a specific destiny: he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally, you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you." osho
Your ideas and your thoughts will open up new worlds. Go Create!
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The dynamic blend of a strong brand proposition and a compelling brand personality gives birth to a powerful brand expression. Key brand attributes like: texture, color, imagery, typography, forms, tone of voice, sound and environment play a unique role in defining the proposition and developing the personality. These attributes are then used like a palette to design all touchpoints of the brand to foster the environment necessary to create the desired expectation.
Designed by Artefice Group, Italy, "Coca-Cola offers consumers a special edition of the legendary glass bottle: an original interpretation of the brand personality through a series of three creative subjects. What catches the attention is the movements, the depth of shading, the colors that convey all brand values in a stylish way." The keywords here – movement, depth of shading, colors all substantiates the The Journey to Shared Value: A world where cultural revolution is alive... "We can’t control how Coca-Cola gets painted on the side of a wall, for thousands of people to see. But we believe that if we engage the market with stories that provoke happiness and inspire optimism, our consumers are going to talk about our brand in a way that is more powerful than we could ever do ourselves." This expansion in brand expression has helped Coca Cola to sell over 1.8 billion servings of its products to consumers in every country in the world, save Cuba and North Korea (officially).
Understood, not all brands have the resources nor the grit "to walk the talk." However, we can all benefit from the valuable lessons imparted by the slogan, "The Coke Side of Life". Andy Payne, the Chief Global Creative Director of Interbrand, professes the vital role of creativity in creating and managing brand value.
Start with a Great Brand Proposition: "If you have a body, you are an athlete. This proposition taps into Nike’s dedication to human potential, and makes it relevant to its business by grounding human potential in athleticism." Very clever and very consistent with the brand proposition. This visual and verbal expression may vary dependent on culture and country but the brand intent and atttitude is always consistent.
"Great brand propositions and expressions are universally understood, believable, actionable and stand the test of time."
Drive Demand Through Expression: When we see BMW’s brand mark, we don’t think of it in the form of blue and white quadrants. We think of it as the ultimate “driving machine,” and this is because expression has become synonymous with the brand proposition. The Disney brand proposition is built around family-centric entertainment. "The use of characters to create fantasy leads to being able to physically engage similar themes in a physical space, one that immerses the customer in a 360-degree, multisensory, branded experience."
Expression Creates Value: As Andy Payne mentions, consumers and audiences encounter emotion and meaning through personality and storytelling. The journey towards creating a compelling expression of your brand is never complete. Brand propositions, personality, and expressions have to be continually evaluated, evolved, and reevaluated.
In this era virtual reality and digital distraction most brands are yet to explore the compelling territory of emotional enticement. Trade shows and events are the grand avenues for embracing this territory. "Brands that claim powerful emotional propositions and capture them with an exciting world of expression, have the ability to maintain a fond place in the mind of their audiences now and in the future."
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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