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Sarmistha Tarafder's Articles

It is the Age of Smarts. How Do You Wish to Stand Out?

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Look everywhere and anywhere around you. There is no escaping it.

Once that which was on the periphery has now engulfed us. It has invaded our minds, our lives, our passion and our profession. Every single thing that we care about in our life has been touched by high science, that went through a process of intense purification, only to leave us with an uniquely simplified version of its original form.

The immediate result: the rise of mass intelligence

As technology forges ahead, we gather huge amount of data from our digital devices and we use new tools to sterilize, segment and make sense of this information, we are getting smarter, more relevant and faster than ever. New rules are being written every day, different realms of businesses are being disrupted as the usual way of doing business gets inverted. "The mighty tumble, the once confident are left desperate for guidance, and the nimble are given a chance to prevail." We now live in an economy that is planetary in nature and that which favors the intangibles over the tangibles... Creativity, Communication and Connectivity. It is the Age of Smarts. And how do you wish to stand out?

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Creativity   

"I see us being in the art business. . . . Art, entertainment and mobile sculpture which, coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation." Robert Lutz, General Motors

In some form or fashion, to survive, we have to be in the art business. As we move from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age, Creativity is the Currency of Choice. For a brand to flourish in this age you cannot not be but creative. Creativity in function, creativity in data, creativity in logic, creativity in resources; all join forces to give you the edge that is needed for your brand to forge a path of its own.

1. Design flawlessly the functions of your product that calls for high tech and high touch. (It is no wonder that the web is now dotted with stories of class anxiety induced by Apple.)

"Our company assumes that our competitors’ products have the same technology, price, performance and features. Design is the only thing that sets us apart." Norio Ohga, Sony Corp.

2. Transform the hard core assets of your brand into heart connecting stories. (Coke swapped out three of its iconic logos on 20-oz. bottles for the 250 most popular first names among American teens and Millennials, thus transmuting an iconic brand into a brand of self-expression, individual storytelling and staying connected.)

3. Empathize with the passionate sentiments of the time. Follow through with rigor, focus and authenticity will reap surprisingly profitable revenue. (Patagonia is in the business of selling $700 parkas. How does it manage to do so? Very simple. It employs the current sentiments of our times – “reduce, repair, reuse, recycle.” Patagonia increased its' revenue almost one-third, to $543 million, as the company opened 14 more stores by launching an authentic, rigorous 9 month campaign of "buy less".)

“I know it sounds crazy, but every time I have made a decision that is best for the planet, I have made money. Our customers know that—and they want to be part of that environmental commitment.” Yvon Chouinard

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Communication

"The capacity for logical thought is one of the things that makes us human. But in a world of ubiquitous information and advanced analytic tools, logic alone won’t do. What will distinguish those who thrive will be their ability to understand what makes their fellow woman or man tick, to forge relationships." Daniel Pink

This urge to bond with other people who share our values is very primal within us. We have waged wars, designed peace and encouraged trade based on this principle. It is not wonder, that we see the existence of trade fairs since the ancient times. In India fairs have been reported as far back as 4000 BC. (source: Trade Shows in the Globalizing Knowledge Economy) Now coined as trade shows, they have become places for exhibiting 'available capabilities'. These events are now seen as idealistic settings for learning, exploring and experiencing, physical immersion of a certain product.

The trendy new norm of communication: Online visitors traveling offline to be part of an outer space exploration. To promote its "Avatar"-themed gaming machines and online DoubleDown Casino social game, International Game Technology rolls the dice on a $3.3 million exhibit that sends visitors into outer space, and then spins them on a revolving platform where they compete in high-stakes slots.

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Connectivity

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” John Lennon

The key economic imperative of your brand is to amplify relationship, alter perspectives and encourage personal conversations. “We need to shift away from the notion of technology managing information and toward the idea of technology as a medium of relationships,” writes Michael Schrage in Shared Minds, a book about the new technologies of collaboration. "Despite the tens of billions of bits that information hardware can process in a second, the only matter of consequence silicon produces are relationships."

Create exciting conversations, nourishing environments and vibrant user groups. Weave a brand story from a completely new stance. For example when MG Design hoped to alter attendees' perception of the company, from that of a traditional exhibit house to more of a full-service engagement-marketing firm, it employed the microscope, telescopes and likes of such to break the spell of our hidden world. It was a connectivity of a different nature. It left the attendees to pause, peer and ponder ... indeed a luxury that is so dearly missed in our 'always on', 'whenever and wherever' virtual world.

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Our smart culture has the potential to dismantle corporates and shift its allegiance to smaller communities of interest known as fans, and 'zines' and sub-cultures.

“Like a bullet smashing into a pane of glass, industrialism shatters societies, splitting them up into thousands of specialized agencies . . . each subdivided into smaller and still more specialized subunits. A host of subcults spring up; rodeo riders, black muslims, motorcyclists, skinheads, and all the rest.” Alvin Toffler, Future Shock

That initial shatter is now several thousands of subcultures. For every obsession in the world, there is now a web site, a facebook fan page, a meetup site, you name it. It is there. What industrialization began by shattering, our smart economy completes by weaving together and serving it with finer details, customized to our very own individual tastes.

Now, begins the smarter phase of the smart culture... Building Trust... and, that my friends, I will leave it for another day, another time. Till then..

 
 

© 2014 by Sarmistha Tarafder