Blog DONG XI
Earlier this week, one of our visual designers in Shanghai shared a jpg file depicting the Apple Inc. icon, and its construction using circles and seemingly complicated math. A native Chinese, he wondered if the Western icon had to be designed so pre-calculated in order to be considered as “good design.” During our talks, I related this design principle to the established Chinese practice of Feng Shui.
I walked a Formula One race track last fall in Abu Dhabi, in the blistering evening desert heat. The city of Abu Dhabi opens the track a couple of days a week for bikers and joggers. I, however, was walking, due to a lack of appropriate sportswear, gasping for air, and happy to make it through even just one round. It was a surreal experience, not only because I was the odd outlier amidst hundreds of bikers and joggers, but also because it turned the purpose of the race track on its head – as my own private 'slow movement' against the race of the machines, fundamentally opposing the design intent of the venue. It felt like a meditation that turned the split seconds which typically frame the Formula One drivers’ quasi-automated blink decisions into an extended once-in-a-lifetime moment.
In light of the Arab Spring and the rise of India and China, and propelled by social technologies, the concept of ‘soft power’ (the phrase was coined by Joseph Nye in his 1990 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power; defined as “the ability to obtain what one wants through co-option and attraction”) is ever more relevant. Or, in marketing terms, Push is out, Pull is in. If an idea, aspiration, product, goal, ideology, culture, narrative, or national identity is attractive to its constituents, it minimizes the need for constant reinforcement and regulation – whether that is advertising, promotions, and other persuasive efforts, or bureaucracy, command-and-control, and coercion. Pull is powerful (as John Hagel illustrates in his riveting book The Power of Pull). It has a lot of Pull (pun intended) because one doesn’t have to push. It saves energy that can be invested otherwise, for example, in whatever “it” is that creates Pull. No surprise then that individuals, organizations, societies, and entire nations wish they could rely on it more.
When I was in the industrial design graduate program at RISD I became intrigued by the various, and profound, ways in which cultures understand personal identity. My particular interest was in 'material culture,' defined as the stuff we wear, carry, display and use to express who we are, what we stand for, who we want to be in the future and how we desire to be seen by the culture that surrounds us. The element that seemed most captivating to me, and became the basis of my thesis work, was the growing understanding of how the very nature of personal identity has shifted over time, most obviously from the start of the Industrial Revolution until now.
A lot has been written lately about the changing profile of the CMO, a role which faces an increasingly complex set of stakeholders and expectations (“10 Great Expectations: What CEOs Want From Their CMOs”) as it is engulfed by empowered consumers, big data, digital media pervasion, and accelerated technology innovation cycles. While CMO tenures have slightly increased to an average of less than four years, the role remains a hot seat. Technology savvy, analytics prowess, and strict ROI measurement are almost unanimously heralded as the key attributes of a successful marketing leader. The CMO is expected to be a business strategist, innovator, and change agent, while at the same time also acting as the brand evangelist, inspirational communicator-in-chief, and cross-functional collaborator. Tough one. How can today’s CMO succeed in times of hyper-connectivity when long-held beliefs are shattered, audiences are transient, and “software is eating the world” (Marc Andreessen)?
Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn yield unprecedented actual or virtual valuations. Social media empower and propel social revolutions such as the ones we are witnessing in Arab countries. Enabled by broadband technologies and mobile devices, entire industries are connecting with customers – and each other – in entirely new ways. Clearly, the Connected Age has arrived. A world population connected through ubiquitous, real-time, and social computing, and through more than 50, 75, or even 100 billion devices. A world where every thing is connected with everything.
This week's collection of remarkable links, curated by the frog marketing team.
The eye catching Hot Wheels Campaign.
Would you get an Ecko Tattoo for a lifetime discount?
Steve Jobs for President! "Vote for me or I'll remote wipe your iPhone."
Blog On the Grid
Did you miss the Energy ThinkIn? No worries, we captured it all on film to give you the highlights from the day. Watch the video below to see how we searched for our Energy Panda — a face that can encourage a wide range of beneficial consumer behaviors such as buying energy-efficient smart appliances and opting for renewable energy sources. The video talks with participants from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, Intel, GE and others who dove into our all day collaborative workshop to create an icon, and ultimately a brand, for energy itself.
I was recently asked by a co-worker how I define a 'touchpoint'. In pondering a bit more about this, I realized that in brand and marketing we often talk of touchpoints, but we might not get beyond the more common applications / definition. If we go a little deeper, touchpoints are actually often more holistic and sensory than at first blush.
These days, it seems every company has (or is planning) a person or division focused on “reaching out to the community” or “being part of the conversation” through tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Countless books, experts, and even entirely new agencies have sprung up around “social media” to help companies understand – and take advantage of – this new movement towards thinking about and doing marketing (and business) differently.
Yet despite the shining successes out there, what’s discussed less often is determining if and when leveraging social media makes sense for your brand, and more importantly, what the underlying POV should be to help craft an initial approach.