Data has suddenly gotten sexy.
Data used to be considered boring. It was the domain of engineers (think protractors), organic chemists, accountants, actuarial scientists. Now, thanks to massive server farms, clever algorithms and machine learning, data has become the lifeblood of Silicon Valley and the foundation of huge personal fortunes.
To understand these changes read a recent article in the Harvard Business Review which chronicles the emergence of big data as “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” Even more telling, check out the recent TED talk below by Jameson Toole of MIT’s Human Mobility & Network Lab. The gleam in his eye speaks volumes about the irresistible allure of big data to scientists, entrepreneurs and speculators of our time.
Full disclosure – I’m a brand research executive and skilled in what is sometimes called “empathetic listening.” This means I’m an inveterate people watcher, instinctively put myself in others’ shoes and strive to figure out what makes people tick.
I’ve been reading up on trends in UX and brand design recently and find that an empathetic approach is highly prized at agencies as various as IDEO, frog design, Landor, and BBDO. Empathy is considered an essential component in up-front evaluation of user needs and, as well, is often leveraged in creative strategy and execution. Consider P&G’s amazing new campaign for the 2012 Olympic sponsorship, “road to glory”, that recognizes the role played by moms in supporting their young athletes. In this work:
- Empathetic listening drives insights that fuel creative/design strategy
- Empathetic messaging is at the center of the executional elements celebrating the games’ unsung heroes…moms
To check out the campaign click here. And look below to see another amazing example of empathetic listening driving empathetic creative – part of a pro-bono campaign by BBDO for the Ad Council.
Moral of the story – empathy opens doors to human understanding and is an irresistible force that breaks down barriers and brings people together.
God is in the details.
The existence of Higgs boson, a sub-atomic particle dubbed “the God Particle” because it explains the dynamics of mass, was confirmed on July 4th at the CERN labs outside Geneva. Peter Higgs first proposed it in 1965, but it took an additional 47 yeas, lots of math, and a $10 billion supercollider to prove it was real. Check these links for a deeper dive:
Amazing, really. Years of struggle to confirm a scientific principle that appears to have no practical value. The Economist put it this way, “The importance of Higgs belongs to the realm of understanding rather than utility. It adds to the sum of human knowledge – but it may never change lives as DNA or relativity have.”
The moral of the story – the thirst for knowledge is a strong, motivating force in human affairs.
The folks at Coca Cola have been busy reinventing their model for brand communications.
If you watched Superbowl XLVI you probably saw the newest round of Polar Bear ads. What you may not have seen was the live-streamed “Polar Bowl” which viewers could visit during the game on their “second screen” (read iPad). The response was stunning – 9 million people tuned into this parallel, virtual world to watch animated polar bears reacting real-time to the game.
This is not a one-off deal. Coca Cola actually has a master plan to create a new model for brand building. It is grounded in the concept of “liquid content” – ideas that are so captivating, so provocative, so contagious they cannot be controlled. Ultimately, Coke aims to evolve their approach from “one-way storytelling” to a “dynamic storytelling model” where the brand narrative is so compelling, it flows into the popular narrative and earns cultural capital.
Moral of the story – harness the power of liquid content for your brand!
I have long thought that logos serve a dual function.
The Beacon – for newbies seeing a brand logo for the first time, it serves as a beacon…identifying the landmark and inviting passersby to investigate.
The Window– for experienced users, it serves as a window into the tapestry of ideas, thoughts and emotions that constitute the brand’s equity and, hopefully, appeal.
Here’s an example. Most Americans driving by a neon sign for Super Duper Weenie, if they see it, will think “hot dog joint” and perhaps stop in for a bite. This is the beacon effect. In contrast, for anyone living in Fairfield CT, home of Super Duper Weenie, this logo is already incredibly well known. It conjures up associations of fabulous hotdogs, incredible fries and an authentic welcome from owner Gary Zemola. This is the window effect.
If you want to see the early stirrings of logo power (as seen through the eyes of a 5 year old) check out the video below. And don’t neglect investing in consumer experiences that drive the power of your brand and your logo over time!