Tag Archives: brand

Transcending coarseness

It's been a few weeks since my last post.  Work and life have made it pretty impossible to do any thinking, much less writing, about the path to the beautiful brand.

Tonight I can take a moment, at least, to reflect on what I've absorbed in these weeks.

I'm thinking about launching another blog, devoted just to the goings-on here at Technology Mission Control.  The Bay Area.  Silicon Valley.

For example.  Never have I seen so many brilliant people resort to skulduggery just out of sheer competitiveness.  We've got some things going on here that rival the Kremlin
under Brezhnev.  And this is on a volunteer project! 

The only thing I've been able to tell myself is, when I was the same age as these engineers [in their twenties], I had the benefit of reporting to a bunch of what were perceived as old guys who had a heart attack if there was a typo in a slide.  That was a major professional slip — almost an insult to the audience. 

Lucky devils.  They're out on some golf course.

Well, they deserve it.  They taught us a lot.  I learned that even the little things warrant your respect.  Not to mention the big things, like other people.  I cannot imagine what they would be saying about what gets posted on blogs and said in Twitter tweets by people about people with whom they say they're collaborating.

Fairness is a really big deal to me, and I'm getting some wacky emails about the upcoming election.  Which I can address in this blog.  It is about the American brand, afterall. 

I fully expected to see some really funny stuff flying around about the three senators chasing the Presidency.  I didn't expect to learn what names people are willing to call them, just out of fear of the unknown.  How can we have a woman?  How could we have an African American?  How could we have an aging man who might have post traumatic stress disorder?  Forget the sexism and the ageism — that stuff is mild compared to what's going around that is racist.  And the worst part is, when the senders are called on it, they don't even realize they're doing it.  It's unbelievable.

So, on to transcendence.  Out, damned coarseness.  Starting with myself.  Listening.  Breathing deeply, trying not to shock or be shocked.  Hypnosis?  Slow food?  Yoga is too distracting.  Watching an old movie.  Looking at the Golden Gate bridge.  Learning.

One step at a time.

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Defining clutter

The Unclutterer blog is a useful resource for ways to make life simpler.  It had a post today about a new book that clarifies the relationship between consumption, clutter and health, specifically the issue of weight.

This got me thinking.  Besides the obvious question of what the voracious consumer must do with all the clutter that results from purchases, I’ve come up with my own theory as to why we’ve been so materialistic since the new century began.

You won’t find any blame getting laid strictly at one doorstep here.  Not even Osama bin Laden’s.  Although it’s abundantly clear to me that his actions were the straw that broke the camel’s back.

If we are in fact going to see a change in the way brands must interact with people [see previous post], I think it’s got to do more than address the impact of the Internet.  That heartbreaking day in 2001 triggered a quintessentially American response to pain:  go on with your routine and do the bad guys one better.  Go out and buy or eat something. 

We Americans see some sort of life affirmation in the act of a purchase or a bite of food — moreso than any other culture.  So when the unimaginable happened, instead of letting ourselves feel the depth of the pain — and make the requisite sacrifices consciously — we began to bury ourselves in stuff.  We heightened our pursuit of pedigree, whether that meant clubs, college educations, pre-schools, neighborhoods or physical attributes.  Anything to distract us from the reality that this most blessed nation was despised enough that a deranged gang would try to bring us down — just because we cannot be controlled.

I’m sure the psychology and psychiatry professionals could provide a list of the resulting afflictions.  However, most of us could probably just stand in front of a mirror, look ourselves in the eye and ask if we are really happy or at our personal best when we compare ourselves with the neighbors or eat twelve cookies instead of two.  Twenty minutes after dinner.

More in the next post, especially about how a work project is shedding light on what constitutes clutter.

Johnny Depp: Three for three

  • Johnny Depp, the brand:  Puts his talent to serving the character he portrays — authentically.
  • Johnny Depp, the player:  Builds upon his track record — skillfully.
  • Johnny Depp, the startup:  Tries something new with every role [this time, it’s singing] — fearlessly. 

And this morning, he’s nominated for an Academy Award.

Is this just an excuse to make my first post of the new year about Hollywood doings and the very fine movie, Sweeney Todd:  The Demon Barber of Fleet Street?  No.

But I realized as I sat through the movie [eyes shut during the authentic blood spurts] that efforts like Mr Depp’s — as well as the vision of Timothy Burton and the prowess of his entire cast — inject our lives with the artistic version of what every one of us should do and find in our own work.  Not how to get rid of annoying colleagues under the guise of a haircut and a shave or deal with competitors by turning them into pot pies.  I mean how Burton & Co look at their work and how they deliver.

The whole brand thing has been overdone when it comes to personal branding, but there is something to knowing who you are and immersing it in the task at hand.  The personality part — for people and companies — comes to how you choose to build a relationship with your stakeholders. 

In Mr Depp’s case, his stakeholders are diverse.  The camera, the scriptwriter, the composer, the director, the cast, the audience.  When you go for the truth, it’s much easier to perform — and the more you find new ways to convey the truth, the more powerful the message for all the stakeholders.

Many experts would say that players and startups have a long way to go, as groups, with striking upon a true brand for themselves.  Let’s say those experts are correct.  Seems to me the one thing that bears trying is learning from each other.

For players, it would be shedding the years of tired, cliche marketing to get back to the original idea behind the company.  For startups, it’s realizing that the patina of experience and being part of the system doesn’t have to mean old or old school.

For both, it is recognizing that brands begin with the desire to create something that works for the organization and for the community — and they end when things start getting phony, lazy, complacent or too expensive.

The next time you go to the movies and feel that the exorbitant ticket price was completely justified, think about the factors that made it so.  Those very same elements have parallels in every other kind of business, not just "the pictures."  A desire to dedicate oneself to the story and its characters.  An interest in community, not just quarterly stats and whipping the competition.  The capacity to innovate and act like a startup every day.

A leader that has the talent and focus of Johnny Depp?  Couldn’t hurt.