Being an employee of our own myth!

We are all frauds! Forgive the blatant articulation.

 

To quote Wikipedia ” The master race (GermanHerrenrasse) is a pseudoscientific concept in Nazi ideology in which the putative “Aryan race” is deemed the pinnacle of human racial hierarchy. Members were referred to as “Herrenmenschen” (“master humans”).

 

Creating is hard for every last one of us– including for the ones from the allegedly superior Aryan race.

 

If you think creating is hard, try grave digging. Or coal mining. Infinitely harder. Do you think miners stand around all day thinking and talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? Certainly not. They just go ahead and do it ie dig!

 

Throughout life, you collect data points or dots. And you probably don’t have a clue how these dots will connect in the future. As Steve Jobs said, you can only connect these dots looking backward. But, you can only collect them going forward.

 

In our daily lives, too many of us favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt. The result is that our beliefs get brittle long before our bones.

 

Without the mistakes we make, the decisions we regret and the experiences that didn’t live up to our expectations, we would be very short on material for our creative work.  These things are all just ingredients for your soup, material for making meaning and making art.

 

The creative process, just like the creative life, isn’t linear.  We don’t know how each of our life experiences will impact us down the road. With each step forward, the view changes, the landscape shifts and the horizon offers a different dimension. The most insignificant of our experiences and life’s little skirmishes at the moment can serve as the most informative (and even inspiring) ones in our future.

 

Our creativity is not something that someone can give us, gift us or take away. It’s something thats always within us.  Whether it’s the degrees we earn or the jobs we hate, every experience offers us seeds to plant for the stories we tell.

 

Life doesn’t pause or stop to make room for our precious creating time. So, if you are running your own life’s employment exchange, show up and ship out!

 

ENDS

 

A question of questions!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”: Voltaire 

Question is defined as a sentence or phrase used to find out information, insight or intelligence.

We may have all experienced this. You are checking out of a hotel room after a few days’ stay. The lady at the checkout counter politely asks you ‘ How was your stay? ‘ And this question seems not to have changed over the years across time zones and continents. And in most cases, a polite yet non committal answer evolves  ‘ It was good ‘ (even though the stay may not have been).
 
What if (question?) we are asked ‘ What could we have done to improve your stay with us ? ‘ . The energy and the dynamic changes completely. Rather than go on auto pilot mode and offer the default response, you are buoyed by the keenness of the hotel staff to improve the guest experience and you end up offering honest feedback. The answer may not give them exactly what they want to hear. But it will give what’s valuable for them to learn.
As the old proverb goes ‘ Better to ask a question than to remain ignorant ‘.
What if Obvious Questions collide with Contrarian Answers? It’s a discussion worth having. When smart, committed people disagree about the answer to a question, it’s a question worth pursuing.
Progress or outcomes? There is no toss up- its got to be progress. Ditto with questions.
HR reviews could have better progress and responses if employees are asked ‘ What challenges are you facing now ? ‘, as that question presumes that challenges are the norm, not the exception. Rather than ask ‘ Are you facing any challenges?’ , when most will say no. They might fear that their admission will be seen as a weakness.
Good insights, contrary to popular wisdom, don’t come from a smart answer. They come from a smart question.
” We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as wrong “- Suzy Kassem
ENDS

The future of advertising: a sneak peek!

The Future of Advertising: A Sneak Peek!

What could/should “advertising” look like in 2020 and beyond? What should we do now for that future?

Some questions that crowd our every day artery. Restless consumers and fast changing technology are creating unheralded disruption. Advertising has always been a combination of art and science. Technology is now becoming a third variable. Advertisers “have to get all three of these things right”. They have to be three good.

There are Un Ignorable Forces of Change. Throwing Unabated Challenges to the status quo. But having said that, once recognised, respected and responded right, they offer Unprecedented Upside Potential for the Future. Lets examine them below:-

Exponential Advances in Science & Tech: With IOT, AI, Machine Learning etc, we now have a deeper real time understanding of things, people, situations. Bringing along with it an outsized and unprecedented responsibility for what we do with that knowledge.

Empowered & Skeptical “Consumers” : Wanting Customerization & Personalization (make it mine), seeking Choice(Give me tools to make better decisions), expecting Competitive Value (Give me more for my money), searching for Communities( Let me be a part of it), across multiple Channels (I want to call, click and visit). Individuals with lives, aspirations, challenges, family, communities. They want to be worthy of respect and you need to earn their trust.

Media Disruption & Redefinition : One way has become Two Way, Static is now Dynamic, Stationary is now Mobile, Passive is now Sensing, One-Dimension is now Immersive, Visual has turned Multi sensory. There exists Unprecedented Platform Design Capabilities for delivering Exceptional Contextualised Experiences.

Culture, Society & Our World : Straddling many a Divide across Health, Income, Digital, Education, Equality & Tolerance, Climate & Sustainability.

Inspiring, Measurable Business Models: A heady mix of The customer driven/ holistic model , The co creation model,  The open innovation model , Network orchestration model , The Competitive Value Model, Transformation to full service provider model, The emerging market innovation engine model, The shift to digital and network business models

So what are the takeaways that we can extract from the above listed landscape?

– Traditional mindsets, including those about advertising and marketing, must be challenged and potentially changed. I am referring to the Mental Models: The Primary Impediment to Transformation- For eg: “It has always worked this way.” “We tried it and it didn’t work.” “We’re profitable; why change?..and so forth! 

Before Roger Bannister broke the 4 Minute Mile on May 6, 1954, nobody thought that such a record could be set. We need to ask ‘ What is your 4 minute mile ‘ ?

Its the time to challenge our Mental Models of Advertising and Move from Marketers and Agencies, through Media, at Target Demographics toward being Cross-Silo Collaborators, from Ads toward Orchestrated Value-Creation Touch points, from Frequency toward When Needed, Wanted, Appreciated, from Reach toward Where Needed, Wanted, Appreciated, from Push and Persuade For Sales toward Multi Win Outcomes,pull & engage, from Ad Campaigns toward Initiatives in Holistic, Dynamic Ecosystem.

There is also a great upside in starting to use a new Vocabulary:

From Campaign To Initiative, From Content To Substance, From Persuading To Inspiring and Enabling, From Selling To Serving, From Seeking Loyalty To Earning Trust, From Disruption To Better/Alternate Solutions, From Features and Benefits to Brand Roles in People’s Lives, From Brand Differentiation To Brand Distinctiveness, From Employees To Brand Ambassadors, From Talent To Brand Stewards, From Consumers(myopic) To People with Lives, From Advertising Campaigns To Value Creation Initiatives, From Direct Response To Actionable Communications, From Big Data To Actionable Insights, From Success/Failure To Learning.

The time has come to challenge everything. Leave no sacred cows. Even challenge the objective of the firm from maximising long term shareholder value to aligning the objectives of the brand, the people (consumers…) and society.

– A strong call out to shift your focus from media mix to portfolios of all touchpoint orchestration. Go beyond the 4 Ps- bring in CeX, CSR, Packaging, Web & App etc all. The path to purchase is not linear any more. Operating in a sliver is not serving the purpose.

– Leverage the power of content( make RAVES– Relevant, Actionable, Valuable, Exceptional & Shareworthy) and the power of context( MADE: Multi Sensory, Audience driven, Delivery across platforms, Environment & location sensitive) that helps deliver your compelling brand purpose.

– Be always in beta– in adaptive experimentation mode to foster innovation, to learn faster & better, to attract and retain better talent, to hoodwink competition.

There’s no shortage of screens and there’s no shortage of impressions. But there’s a shortage of high value connection points between brands and consumers, which is the whole point of advertising. You have to create effective engagement with the consumer that gets them to buy.

Latin is very much Greek to me but as I come towards the end of this piece some Latin to keep an eye on. We have passed those days of ‘ Caveat Emptor ‘( meaning Buyer Beware). The new skid on the block these days is ‘ Caveat Venditor ‘ ( meaning Seller Beware ). 

As the brilliant Bob Hoffman puts it ” If you want to die an imbecile in advertising, don’t pay attention to art, literature, history, science, anthropology or nature. Pay attention to the Kardashians “.

Going back to Latin mode- friends- Semper Vigilans (meaning stay vigilant)!

ENDS

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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.

ENDS
 
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