Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Jelly Helm at Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 5 of 8)

Jelly Helm

Wieden+Kennedy

Obama, Facebook, The Iphone And The Characteristics Of Emergent 21St Century Brands

I have a friend who is a client of mine named Mark Ritchie. He’s an activist. What I know from him: speak only what you know to be true.

What turned me on about working at W+K is storytelling. I love storytelling. I think connection is the power of it for me. And I think that brand is really a story.

I think that a brand is a story that expands our-self story.

We’ve been facing an existentialist problem since the dawn of mankind. For example: what is the meaning of our extremely short, individualistic existence on planet earth—itself a very small planet who orbits around a star—itself a very small star compared to everything else in the universe? So we use stories to make sense of all these bewildering events, and to help give meaning to our experiences.

Brands are stories that you pull in to expand our own story. When you choose a brand, you choose one that expands your own self-story. Not the one that conflicts with it.

Our self-story expands like crazy [pictures of 2 candidates.] For example, in 2004, either an African American or a woman is going to be a President. That’s a sign of change.

In advertising, there are also signs of change. First, there was TiVO. Then there was the media consumption habit that increasingly moves toward the non-traditional. Then there was the long tail culture that’s really thin and long. Then there was this idea that advertisers don’t take control of the brand—the public do. And then there was this “interactive” thing. We don’t know how it works yet, but we pretend that it really works.

In short, It’s a new world. It’s a different kind of world, and advertisers are really shocked, because they’re not sure how they’re going to make money anymore.

So what does it take to create a successful 21st century brand? It reminded me of the tale of the 6 blinds monk that were asked to identify the elephant. These are like how different disciplines view a 21st century brand. The interactive guys may say that the web is the key to winning. The traditional art directors may say “keep making something creative, and hopefully they’ll notice.” The social media people may say that all traditional marketing is dead.

The problem is: they’re all correct, but they all failed to recognize the bigger pattern.

Obama, Facebook and Apple are 21st century brands. The first thing that I noticed that they have in common is that none of them were created by an ad agency. And people choose these brand not because they’re seduced by it.

21st century brands are not built through advertising, but through direct experiences. Sure, interactive is a part of that, but it’s not about interactive, but about participating in a story.

And yet for all this help of head and brand
How happily instinctive we remain
Our best guide upward further to the light
Passionate preference such as love as sight

I like it this poem because it encourages the idea that we, despite trying to figure out what to do with our lives, are attracted to things that make us grow. Things that lift us up.

We are growth-seeking creatures. I just think that’s our nature. I think there’s an upward thrust. This happens culturally, too.

A group of scientists created a map of how growth works through the human culture. They took all models of human development, put them on top of each others and find similarities. This spiral is the map. It’s called Spirodynamics.

[picture of multi-leveled spiral with various colors, from tan to yellow]

Starting from the bottom:

  • Tan: I exist. This is the dawn of consciousness
  • Purple: I and you exist, if we cooperate, something will happen
  • Red: I and you exist. Other groups also exist, and if we defeat them, something will happen
  • Blue: law introduced
  • Orange: Technology, science and progress
  • Green: “hippie-dippie,” science and all that is good, but let’s also hold hands. Communitarian value
  • Yellow: Finally, this is where we’re at today. Yellow is about a holistic view that we are headed towards, where we accept all the good things that came before us. Nothing is rejected. Everything is embraced and encouraged.

21st century brands will embrace and encourage humanity. All aspects of human being. Not just sustainability, knowledge, or technology, but all of it.

But will will a growth-minded, non-stuff-babsed economy look like?

I got no idea, but I’ve got a surfboard and I’m ready to go.

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