As I roam the Internet highways, as I mooch around creative members’ clubs in London’s Soho, as I collaborate with brilliant business partners across borders, as I witness many cultures from all backgrounds being empowered by entrepreneurship, as I meet more and more inspiring people; I’m starting to see a movement pumping in the undercurrent so strong that you can feel it everywhere I turn.
It’s the time for the brand rebels to stand up and be counted. The world is ready for you. Never has there been an easier more attractive time to turn up the heat in business. Never has rebelling ever been as wondrous. It’s an entrepreneur’s revolution. Take a look around you. See it? Smile.
It’s almost like there’s been a surge of fearlessness, innovation and dare I say, youth, arriving in the marketing departments of some of these big companies out there in recent times. Where once upon a time these big fish were slow movers, notoriously uncaring, and the most complacent beasts around; now seem to be acting more boldly with their customer engagement activities. There’s now a focus on the customer experience, brand values, social engagement, you know – the things that matter – not what the marketing journals tell us all to do. Look at the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project for a wonderful example of cross-border engagement marketing. What about the Colombian Bank (I believe it was Colombian) experiential experience where they focused on a multi-sensory approach (sounds, smells and proven engagement science) to transform the visiting experience and revolutionise banking for life? What about Ford committing to Twitter as they ace their efforts in humanising their brand and engaging in public conversation?
These are some classic examples of the big boys taking a side step away from convention. Moving industry norms and starting on a fresh piece of paper. It’s like a turn in the tide where the decision-maker that once may have said to their team “stay in the box, but just do it better” are now saying “let’s stand for something different and let’s rewrite the rule book.”
That’s a tune I’d play all night long. Let’s applaud their bravery.
Father of Rebels
Let’s take a look at the Father of Rebels himself, Seth Godin. His Domino Project is a movement that is rewriting the publishing rules. It’s pushing the industry into a new space and letting the customers take the idea for a very long walk. The whole strategy is forgetting what’s already been done, replacing it with something hugely valuable for the advocates, buyers and the forward thinkers, rewarding those that take action and essentially creating a viral storm as a result. Check it out. Is it genius? Or is it just common sense? I think most forms of genius are simplistic, and if you’ve ever landed on one of Seth’s articles, you’ll know. He keeps things light, simple yet very effective.
I wonder what we could today with that same approach? Get it in your think box and stir some magic.
Hand Picked Rebels
As I close on Seth, this brings me nicely to one of Seth Godin’s Domino Project’s chief evangelists, Amber Rae. Amber is a rebel with a wondrous balance. She balances inspiration with determination. She balances being outspoken with endearing charm. She’s curious as well as focused. Check her out, you’ll get what I mean immediately. An inspiring and bustling soul.
Another rebel that has stood out to me recently is Frank Chimero. A man full of insights in the world of design. Exploratory by nature and human by touch. A real design rebel. The man wants to reshape design for Goodness sake. How much more audacious can you get?
And my last public reference will be someone that absolutely knocked me off my feet when I saw their work. Anyone who really knows me, knows I bust out some hearty poems as I meander through life. Well, Austin Kleon has absolutely turned the poetic world truly on its head. Check out his Newspaper Blackout. Instead of starting with a blank piece of paper, he starts with a page full of words and just removes what he doesn’t need. I can’t speak highly enough of what he’s done. Pure, pure genius and the fact we share the same name, well, that just makes me happy.
What Can We do?
The relevancy to you and I suppose the point to all of this is this. If you feel something inside of you that’s itching to break free. If you think differently to those around you, but have yet to speak up. If you are someone who has yet to break the mould from what is an industry plagued with standardisation and lego haircuts. If you feel like exploration is in your blood and you’ve not yet even found your own nose, never mind Taiwan. I believe now is the time for you to get stuck into some action. Be a misfit and be proud. Wear your mac over your head and play with fireflies throughout the night. Radicalise an industry and take the plaudits. Win an award for originality, no make that two. Pay one of your salary cheques to a village in Africa. Rebrand your web page with your favourite words and pictures, not the crap your web designer put there for you. Take pictures of yourself in the snow, naked. Whatever. I don’t care. You should. Show people who you really are. Show the world what you care for. Build relationships. Think differently, if you wish. Be unreasonable, if you believe the answer lies there. In other words, be a rebel. You can be anarchic, unique and radical without breaking laws. In this world, anything goes.
So, over to you. Stand up and be counted. Go and see what magic you can create.
I for one will be applauding you from the stands.
This is a guest post by Ben Austin – Start-up investor. Marketing enthusiast. Passionate mentor. Creator of Brand strategies. But that’s when he’s in the office. When he’s got his shorts on, he’s a travel junkie. He’s a world pen pal. He’s excited about life. You can check him out at The Ben Channel. If you’re on Twitter he’d love to hear from you too @thebenchannel.