Brand You World!

It’s a Brand You world, and time to re imagine you,the Individual: being the storyteller of your own life, you either create your own legend or not.There is nothing worse than being ordinary. The current environs is not going to cosset you any more. Imagine: You’ve got a new boss: Buy a mirror: It’s YOU!



Image: Social Media 101

Oh NO: It’s FOMO(The Fear Of Missing Out)!

Didn’t want to miss out on posting this..

For a while I have been trying to wrap my head around the FOMO concept( Fear Of Missing Out I am given to understand by some social media pundits who have won a lot of plaudits)..

For the average Jane and Joe(like me), it means because we tend to feel the pain of a loss more deeply than the pleasure of a gain, we are more likely to embrace something if we think it will help us avoid missing out.

Phew, got it out of the way..Status anxiety I dare say..


Image: Odyssey


Our core shouldn’t be about being mediocre!

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left,  and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
Erma Louise Bombeck

Todd Henry’s brilliant book ‘ Die Empty ‘ is a wake up call surely. A guide to reclaiming your passion, finding your voice and unleashing your brilliance every day. We always seem to find solace in the fact there will always be tomorrow. But sooner or later all of our tomorrows will run out. That is time which is limited inventory. Each day that you postpone the hard work and succumb to the clutter that chokes creativity, discipline, and innovation will result in a net deficit to the world, to your company, and equally importantly to yourself. Ready to introspect?

I understand average might be both the old and new normal but a honest hand over your heart would have you admit that you were not meant to be average, nor am I. Average might be normal – I get that. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s not for me and it shouldn’t certainly be for you!

When you day dream, do you see yourself as the average Jane or average Joe or as being grander than life? I suspect the latter. Way to go! Being mediocre maybe a safe place at first and you are in this trap of thinking that things can’t get any worse. But, we have to know that the flip side is that things won’t get any better either.

“Most humans, in varying degrees, are already dead. In one way or another they have lost their dreams, their ambitions, their desire for a better life. They have surrendered their fight for self-esteem and they have compromised their great potential. They have settled for a life of mediocrity, days of despair and nights of tears. They are no more than living deaths confined to cemeteries of their choice. Yet they need not remain in that state. They can be resurrected from their sorry condition. They can each perform the greatest miracle in the world. They can each come back from the dead…”
― Og MandinoThe Greatest Miracle in World

It’s time to start an intelligent and provocative conversation with yourself. Be content in being discontent. Set yourself lofty goals without letting them intimidate you or scare you away. The very nature of our brain is such that it cleaves to the familiar. But the brain also remembers what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected. Let familiarity breed contempt.

When the preferable is not available, the available becomes preferable. Beware of that. And all of it’s always been done that way syndrome.

So what does this mean for creative and marketing professionals. We understand that top lines and bottom lines are necessary compulsions in our corporate life. Stakeholder greed is de rigueur. Marketers will understand that the absolute worst place for a brand is to be “middle of the road, in no man’s land.” Average, adequate, middling are all meaningless. If you are in marketing and find yourself even remotely close to any of these trio, get away, fast. There is far more life beyond ” 25 to 70% off ‘ that you have been running as campaigns religiously for over the last 7 years. You are far better than that. Stop belittling your talent and capability. Especially with all the resources(financial & human) and standing that you have in the market as a brand. And above all, your individual ability, that is far far above the mediocre.

Time to raise the bar.




The CMO’s wish list for 2018: An evolving list…

A lot of us are now on the drawing board mapping out ways to get better in 2018. The fundamentals are not going to change- reach, connect,engage, influence, transact and all of that- but what could we do to better stimulate the landscape as we get set to welcome and take on the New Year. Here’s a partial(and ever evolving list):-

a) A new BHAG of tricks: Nothing brings together a team like a BHAG — a Big Hairy Aggressive Goal —without enough time to deliver it. Backs to the wall brings out the best in us!

b) Am not alluding to the fact of disrespecting the organisation chart but don’t obsess over it on paper.Instead, get the right people, the right goals and vitally, the right trust in place.

c) And for all the HeRoines and HeRoes in HR, recruit with an immersion, not just an interview. Align passion with goals.Basic, yes! Hire marketing leaders with general management skills to ensure results exceed individual contribution.

d) When things are working well, that is the best time to deconstruct your strategy and try new things.

e) If you are in a new category where your customers need a lot of education and support, your organisation needs to be built around education first and products second.

f) Extend your approach to marketing beyond “getting a message out there”; focus on building trust.

g) Don’t overcomplicate marketing. At the end of the day, it’s still marketing: Market Research, Content, Sales enablement, Awareness, Demand generation, Partnerships, Customer retention.Customer advocacy.

h) When you’re the underdog in your industry, hire people with the DNA to creatively leapfrog the competition, not follow the industry norms. You need to have your Purple Cow(fantastic book by Seth Godin).

i) Own marketing across the organisation. Don’t be afraid to integrate marketers into other parts of the organisation, but always have at least a dotted line back to marketing.

j) Don’t be afraid of data and machine learning. The time is now to put all that data to use to solve the problems humans simply can’t and further the industry. The key is to leverage them as part of your team, not external resources. Data is the (K)new oil as they say! The transition even amongst large enterprises hitherto involved ion B 2 B marketing is happening towards a B to I space(Business to Individual).

k) The best marketing combines data and storytelling. It gives you a way to appeal to the emotional side of people. The Unique Feelings Proposition is what brands need to go after!

l) The future of marketing is in the CeX(Customer Experience). Success comes from knowing your consumers’ passions, being innovative in the way you engage them and having a team that collaborates across all aspects of the customer experience delivery. For consumers, the thrill and purpose of experience has replaced the earlier compulsion for ownership. So ride the opportunity.

m) Marketers will know that The Future of Advertising will be a thing of the past. So, re invent, re engineer, re boot and re calibrate! There is a new customer segment: the Customer Segment of 1. Get ready to reach out to them. Address mindsets, not demographics!

n) As we are all agreeing these days, digital is just as much marketing as marketing is digital. So the two roles have combined, and how! It’s a tell, tell, tell, digitell world.

o) Brands and marketers will recognise the immense power of Transparency and how consumers warm up to brands who are not afraid to stand in their own truth. In a Post Truth world, The Future is Transparency!

Marketing has the power, and responsibility, to inspire the whole company, not just customers. Marketing also has the power to be so much more than the “make it pretty” department.It has the imperative to inspire everyone in the company, not just the people who touch the product.So, let us know our rockets from our launch pads.

For inspiring quotes and actionable intelligence from brand owners and marketing champions, please check this link


Image Courtsey: Search Engine Journal

If CeX(Customer Experience) is the future,why are brands missing out?

“The best way to find your self is to lose your self in the service of others”- Mahatma Gandhi.

How often have we heard all of these statements below especially in the recent past?
Experience is the new brand.
Experiences are the new branding.
The Future is Experience.
Brands will be all about CeX(Customer Experience).
CeX(Customer Experience) is the flavour of the season and beyond and will be for a long long time to come, especially in the context of a hyper cluttered, over commoditised, always on world.The world is migrating from a culture of ‘ ownership ‘ to a movement of ‘ experiences ‘. All of this is stating the obvious but then many a brand seem to overlook this with gay abandon.
A lot of us would have experienced hotel brands during our travels either for business or pleasure.Top of the draw 5 and 4 star properties from the leading hotel brands in the world. How many of us(especially the middle aged with presbyopia staring at us in the eye) have gone in for a shower and struggled to read the writing on the tiny bottles of shampoo or shower gel or body lotion. You take the risk only to realise that the body lotion is fighting desperately for your scalp’s attention only for it to be given the slip. That there is lather in your eyes doesn’t help your cause. What stops the hotel brands from labelling these bottles in big, bold, readable fonts to distinguish one from the other. Lather sorry rather myopic, isn’t it? Especially considering Gen X and Baby boomers still contribute substantially to the hospitality industry’s coffers. About time some prudence showered down. Should we stay different?
Cutting edge technology is supposed to be at the forefront of banking services, especially in their quest for simply better banking that drives customer delight. And this customer is the one calling to find out the outstanding due on her credit card to ensure the payment(and the full bill at that) is made on time. How remiss of you- you are not a ‘ prized customer ‘ for the bank as you are not earning them either late fee or interest. Nor giving their pre decided script driven coveted call centre staff to act one (or even two) up on you.With all the preamble of voice recognition, telephone pin , IVR etc you expect a request such as finding the balance should be a matter of a few seconds. Don’t be surprised, a recent call made history with 18 plus minutes of conversation.Yes, it’s just seconds only, but all 1080 of it. We are told that these calls are monitored for quality and assurance purposes. That’s so reassuring, but, we are still waiting. Because they insist our call is important to them. Simply better anyone?
For all those who have been at the receiving end(pardon the pun) of service from the courier industry. The all important document can only be received by you upon identification etc. That’s all very well as they are taking the right precautions to ensure the receiver is genuine and can authenticate her identity. Perfectly acceptable. So, when you get the call, you ask the courier company what time would the document be delivered and the ‘ comforting ‘ response is ‘ anytime between 9 am and 6 pm ‘. Wow, phenomenal, you just wait until kingdom come(or the delivery staff) and give up on everything else you are doing that day. Upon your request, a note of the specific time is made on their ‘ system ‘, only for you to realise that the delivery man turned up exactly at the time you were not in. Doesn’t all this make you Fed Up?
No, normally you don’t have less than ten items at the hypermarket especially on the weekend. So, you damn well be in the ‘ cattle class ‘ line. After touring several aisle of Man(and Woman) in the store, and picking up both wanted (and unwanted) items, you get ready to take on the serpentine lines and tread heavily to the front of the check out when the inevitable happens: you guessed right, the bar code on one of the packets(wanted item) you have picked up don’t scan, nor is it readable enough to be typed in manually. Frantic call to a help(if he or she is around) to verify the pricing is met with condescending glares and eventually you decide to let go of that item of purchase. Sure we are getting hyper about it but isn’t it time these hypermarket brands read the customer frustration code and raised the bar?
I will leave the baggage carousel at airports for another time where for the airlines it seems to be all about first come, last served. We all are a sucker for good experiences and waiting with bated breath to share it when you are the fortunate one. Brands should be looking at making the most of it.
There is a great opportunity for brands to differentiate, distinguish, delight. Till then, we want to believe our fall sorry call is important to them…

Affluenza, Stuffocation and being Worldly Vice!

Let’s begin with what the Business Dictionary has to say about Affluenza(not to be mixed up with Influenza though the contagious capabilities are common to both):

1. A social condition that affects a society because of the elevated number of individuals striving to be wealthy. People within the society feel that the only measure of success is determined by how much money and prestige a person has.
2. A social theory claiming that individuals with very privileged and wealthy backgrounds sometimes struggle to determine the difference between right and wrong due to the nature of their upbringing. Also known as sudden-wealth syndrome.

Having done that, Stuffocation is defined by Macmillan’s Crowdsourced Open Dictionary as:

– a feeling of being oppressed by the amount of stuff you own. The problem in question is an anxiety christened stuffocation – a feeling of being oppressed by one’s ungovernable heap of belongings, acquisitions.

Affluenza( or Selfish Capitalism as author Oliver James would have called it in his book by the same name) has not just changed the world, it has also changed the way we see the world. The happy embrace of ‘ convenience ‘ and our reconciling to not being able to plan ahead is an entirely new way of thinking and over the past few decades we have built an economic system to accommodate it. A vast majority of humans(yes, us included, thankfully) would find the idea of using our scarce resources to produce things that are designed to be thrown away absolutely mad.
Consumerism(the love of buying things) can, by definition only provide a transient sense of satisfaction, the ‘ thrill of the chase ‘ or the ‘ after glow ‘ like walking down high street with your branded take away. The benefits of consumerism, as one can imagine is short lived as they are linked to the process of the purchase and not to the use of the product. Materialism(is the love of things themselves) is about owning and therefore there is a clear distinction from consumerism. Taken literally, they are polar opposites, though they are often used interchangeably.
We love things not for their material function but for the symbolic act of acquiring and possessing them.
Stuffocation (a term brilliantly coined by trend forecaster and author James Wallman who wrote a book on the subject) is to have more stuff than we could ever need – clothes we don’t wear, kit we don’t use and toys we don’t play with. How it’s cluttering up our homes,making us feel stuffocated and stressed and potentially killing us. Not to mention, how damaging it is for the planet. Our obsession with stuff can be traced back to the origin of the Mad Men who compellingly created desire through advertising (Remember Vance Packard’s famous book on advertising, The Hidden Persuaders).There is a clutter crisis and rampant materialism is being strongly linked to declining well being. The manifesto for change that the Stuffocation book articulates is to replace materialism with experientialism– instead of a new watch or a new car, maybe a holiday with friends and time with family. It advocates being healthier, happier and to do more with less.
To put it simply, if we want to reduce the impact on the natural environment of all the stuff we buy( and mind you we are almost 7.5 billion of all humanity, so that’s a whole lot of stuff and so much of it unneeded), we damn well hold onto them for far more longer. Maintain it, repair it, get more satisfaction from the things we already own, more satisfaction from leisure time and definitely less satisfaction from buying things. Affluenza is curable and has to be cured. So is materialism. The culture has to change. Let’s move on from worldly vice to worldly wise.
Less is indeed a lot more!

Looking beyond getting ahead!

We have galloped on from an industrial economy to that of knowledge and intelligence(artificial & otherwise). Getting ahead is an industrial age concept. Based on scarcity, lack of access, secrecy, connections etc.Everyone can’t be first (the thinking goes) so you better work harder, make do with helping fewer people, and look for shortcuts if you want to win.

Today, we live in an always on,connection, collaboration sharing economy, in a long-tail world where being remarkable is far more important than being normal, where mattering is what matters and what we ideally seek. But the void is still there. It’s a gap between where you are and where you could be. Where you desire to be. A gap between the impact you can create and what you’ve been able to do. Mostly, it’s a gap between you and the change you can contribute to those around you. As they say, what got you here, won’t get you there.

To propel from your present state, to being a ruckusmaker, a toastmaster, a change agent, a denter, a doer, an enabler. A person who notices, who seeks change and, above all, a person that leaps. Takes the power in her hands, to assist the powerless, the privilege dark community. (Read how 3 designers from are trying to fix the refugee crisis in this BrandKnew article here )

To have the spirit to care for the have not. Lets walk the torque. Devoid of the void!


Image: Plays In Business


Is the 30-second ad dying?

The death of an advertising stalwart!

Well it surely appears so. And Silicon Valley is killing it.The rise of social media has made the elaborate plot lines of old-school spots seem archaic. And the Mad Men are, well, mad.Or, so was the fad!

Trapeze back to the days of the 30 second long format ads(long by today’s standards) where marketers, brand owners, agency heads, creative directors, art directors and film makers peddled a basketful of promise, creative thought and motivation to influence the seemingly reachable TG in their quest to change behaviours, cultures and consumption patterns. There was a certain trance in that romance to create.

So what is prompting the change? In an always on land of uncertainty, are we losing the plot(and losing the audience) or has the landscape itself changed?

6 is the new 30

They say 20 is the new 40 when it comes to audience maturity and demographics. Platforms like YouTube have increasingly challenged agencies to tell their stories in a 6-second slot — the average attention span of today’s mobile user. That mobile user, who again by conventional paradigm, is on a perennial instant fatigue. So 30 seconds is a long journey to risk with them!  6 has indeed become the new 30. And numbers don’t lie!

It makes sense. You might be willing to sit through a 3-minute trailer before a movie, or a 30-second “Whassup” ad before an episode of Jimmy Fallon.That may come across as non intrusive or no skin of your backBut amidst the native content of notoriously short-form channels like Instagram or Snapchat, these types of ads are disproportionately long. So much so, that they may pre qualify to be spam! Just kidding.

And for all those who are number crunchers: if we had a nickel for every 60-second YouTube video we gave up on because of an unskippable 30-second ad, we’d be at least $1.25 richer. What will you do for a few dollars more?

“Creativity is dead.” — Old School Advertisers

That almost seems like an Old Jungle saying(remember Phantom is rough with roughnecks!!!).

Ad execs counter that cutting time means sacrificing emotional stakes and story arc for the sake of speed, effectively prioritizing watchability over effectiveness.

Another, not-so-secret motive: it’s harder to get paid proportionally for the production of super-short ads, which still require actors and equipment.The CFO and CMO lines have been blurring and the motive should not surprise us.

Hey, we love Ogilvy as much as the next ad geek. But as the father of mass mediaMarshall McLuhan, put it back in the ‘60s: “The medium is the message.” Yes, we now surely get the message.

And today’s medium is 6-second Snap Stories. And it has to be over in a snap. Otherwise today’s audience will snap out of it.So the mean median for a message is all coming down to 6 in the City(and beyond).

So, Lights, Camera….do we have the time to say Action?


Image: Digitalvidya

Design Thinking for Brands: Making a case for Analogous Inspiration

We are all well aware of the deficit surplus trade equation. In this over connected, hyper commoditised, always on world, we face a surplus of information, goods, services and a deficit on the other hand of time, resources, attention. Marketers and brand owners are in a constant state of beta to address this ever widening chasm.
When brand owners are defining new products and services across healthcare to hospitality, or shaping stories to draw tighter connections to relevant audiences, it would be worthwhile to tap into a network of inspiration to cultivate responses to a range of design challengesFrom a point of shared understanding of a design challenge, we begin to set the stage to design something that has impact.
Empathy, observation & openness are the pillars on which design thinking thrives and creates meaning and relevance for brands wanting to make people’s lives betterWhat’s critical therefore, as we are all aware, in designing amazing things is to start with people.
While each design challenge might require a different set of expertise, a healthy mix of backgrounds and perspectives helps us strike a better balance in designing what’s desirable, what’s feasible and what’s viable.
To spark new ways of thinking about a challenge, we also turn to what we call “analogous inspiration.” Which is all about identifying and observing experiences that are not directly related to the industry that is being designed for, yet have a relatable aspect. For example, a team designing for the operating room for a healthcare brand decided to observe a pit crew at a race track. High stress, quick judgment, and timely action characterise both situations, yet the “outside” context of car racing provided fresh insights that the team at healthcare would not have been exposed to had they only researched other healthcare moments. Such catalysing methods are less about getting a full-picture approach and more about getting inspired to design something that’s game-changing.

So, the next time you are developing or enhancing a product,it would be worthwhile to look beyond the ‘ walled garden ‘ that defines/chains your industry for some analogous inspiration. For that idea or product of yours to become truly beyond compare.


Emotions that have no speed limit when it comes to virality !

Rage seems to be in Rage when it comes to emotions traveling the farthest and fastest across Social Media networks.
The omnipresence of social media, the glut of messaging and content distribution platforms, the sophistication of social listening, combined with readily available news(breaking and broken) and events round the clock, the Damocles Sword hanging on people’s head called ‘ status anxiety ‘, the perennial quest for the next and best viral; all provide the perfect foil for brands and marketers to understand what kind of emotions travel the quickest on social networks and strategise what to ‘avoid‘ and what to ‘adopt‘.

If one were to go granular with the emotions’ basket, we would have the following and more in the bucket list:Happiness/Joy; Sadness/Depression; Rage/Anger; Pride/Prejudice; Disgust/Disillusionment; Wonder/Awe and so on and so forth.

Researchers at the Beihang University in China gauged various online emotions by tracking emoticons embedded in millions of messages posted on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblogging platform. Their conclusion: Joy moves faster than sadness or disgust, but nothing is speedier than rage. The researchers found that users reacted most angrily—and quickly—to reports concerning “social problems and diplomatic issues”. It’s diabolical that a strong anti social emotion like rage gets the maximum social attention and currency!!!

In many cases, these ‘ social flare ups ‘ triggers a chain reaction of anger with multiple circles of the social community getting influenced and participating with equal or more venom.

In another study conducted by Jonah Berger and a colleague at Wharton based on 7000 articles covered by The New York Times, they discovered that if there was one emotion that overtook rage in billings, it was awe. The wonder and excitement of a new discovery of beauty or knowledge or a breakthrough in the fight against cancer; puts awe as an emotion in overdrive thus heaping bagfuls of viral.“Awe gets our hearts racing and our blood pumping,” Berger says. “This increases our desire for emotional connection and drives us to share.”

For all those who thought that sadness would emerge triumphant in the race to viral stardom, sorry to disappoint you. Sadness was considered to be a ‘ deactivating emotion ‘ where people pull down or withdraw leaving it with little torque to go the distance. If you feel a little melancholic about it, let that stay.

​So, the next time you see or experience road rage​, talk yourself into believing that it need not be infectious(or go viral).