“It’s crucial for big brands communicating across a myriad of vehicles to have a clear message that resonates with the audience and helps the brand stand out over time.” - Jared Regan, Gillette Venus brand manager, P&G UK and Ireland

When I see a STOP sign, I stop.  The shape and the color and the words, over the years, mean the same thing - to stop.  Make a STOP sign green, or put the words "GO" on a red octagon and people will wonder what it is they're supposed to do.

Brands are supposed to be consistent.  We expect things from certain brands, day in, day out, year after year.  Consistency is powerful and shouldn't be messed with.

Enter: Coke

In the 1970's they came out with the following commercial that I still remember from when I was a kid.

Then 40+ years later:

Bringing the world together, creating harmony and a better world through sharing the experience of a carbonated cola.

Coke knows who they are and who they want to be; they live their commitment to make the world a special place of happiness and fellowship.

Then there's Chevrolet.  In 2010, in an effort to be more consistent(?!?) GM banned the internal use of the term "Chevy" and even put out the following video:
The Chevrolet/Chevy case study is especially interesting since Coca-Cola and  Coke live harmoniously in the brand world without having to restrict the use of one or the other terms internally.  But then, Coke has been, and is, consistent about creating harmony in the world...
About the Author

Michael Plishka is the President of ZenStorming(TM), a design and innovation consultancy. He can be followed on Twitter @Plish and through LinkedIn.

Read more at his  ZenStorming Blog.

Excitement overflow: The Fuse 2013 conference in April was a great success!  Having so many talented designers and brand strategists in one place, how could it not?  The future of design and branding is integrating with the daily needs and satisfaction of people more than ever before.  Let’s take a look at some of the keynote speakers and what they expect to see in the future.

Johnathan Adler is well-known in the design community for his beautifully crafted ceramics, and his luxurious and flashy home décor.  For Adler, successful design doesn’t look like it was created or unveiled, but should look as if it has always belonged there.  His attention is focused on the product and what it wants rather than fitting into the world we live in.  Designing with irreverence and the freedom for the id to run wild, he advocates other designers to do the same.  Being fearlessly flashy is one of his trademarks.  Even when his designs are extremely minimal they have a sharp bit of flair to them.  He notes that the design process is absolutely essential to the success of the product, as well as focusing more on design and creativity rather than branding.  Tuning out all the noise can be the best way to stay authentic when you let the magic of creativity into the designing process.

Mike Indursky a brand strategist and president of Blissworld talks about taking chances and being a small company competing with the “big guys”.  He sees the survival of brands in the same respect to the way we predict survival amongst animals in the food chain.  If you’re little, you better be fast and nimble to out run and beat the big ones.  Creating a stir when you take chances with a new idea could mean starting a revolution.  He assures that evidently there will be people who hate your idea, but there is power in polarization because a lot of the things people hate they end up loving.  We all know, there is a fine line between the two.  Being different, fearless, relevant and irreverent is the power packed equation for innovative brands. Indursky encourages going after your own vision which means appreciating your roots and branching off from there.

Magnus Lindkvist, a trendspotter and futurist, began with an enthusiastic conversation about time, change and the future. The times we live in today compared to just 150 years ago are extremely fast.  We see change happen and we know that things will be different.  Our progressive society gives way to many opportunities for entrepreneurs to connect and supply consumers very quickly, create temporary businesses and change the world.  Lindkvist’s research on predicting the future lead him to the conclusion that the future is always unexpected no matter how well you plan ahead. We can’t know, but in that uncertainty we need to make the decision now to compete or create.  Which he defines as copying or making something new.  The focus that our society puts on competition is crippling to our progress because competition and creativity have absolutely nothing in common. He gives us his three step directions towards creating change for the future:

1. Experimentation
2. Recycle your failures
3. Be persistent and patient

Keep in mind that the persistence and patience that Twitter had during their first three (dormant) years lead them to the success they have today. Also, don’t be afraid to make enemies because if people dislike you it is because you have created something new.

Tiffany Shlain, the founder of the Webby Awards and cloud filmmaker talks about the power of the web. It’s amazing ability to connect us to people from all over the world in an instant is the beginning of an evolution in thought. Shlain compares being able to share our ideas instantaneously with the world to firing neurons in the brain that are communicating with each other. All our thoughts coming together from around the world is creating one collective mind. She uses this collective mind to her advantage. By cloud sourcing, sending out requests to people from all over to ask for their contribution as a part in her films, she has lead to the invention of cloud filmmaking. With their cooperation Shlain is able to piece together visual media from a large amount of people, from every corner of the planet in an astonishing amount of time. Technology is such an amazing tool in that it has given us the ability to see into the other lives of real people’s personal lives.  As one collective mind, Shlain also sees the connections we are making on the internet as shaping the newborn mind of the world wide web, reminding us that we must be mindful of the content we are creating and releasing on the internet.

The optimism for the future begins with designing for the future.  The magic of creativity and the use of our imagination is allowing for some exciting new things to come.  Be fearless, be irreverent and be different.

The Institute for International Research (IIR) is currently seeking presenters specializing in Futuring and vision.

The 18th Annual World Future Trend event is in the midst of a major transformation. From the name to the people who will come.

The 18th Annual Re-imagined World Future Trends Summit
November 13-15, 2013
Los Angeles, CA 

We’re scouring the earth for disruptive thinkers – our goal is to unite innovators to collaborate across functionalities - from insights to brand design to trend watchers to futurists to marketers to strategic planners to C suite leadership… We are not looking for good or great. We are looking for the most future forward, smart people in the world to come together and share their inspiring stories that will result in commercial impact. We are searching for practical wisdom. The entire event will focus on the HOW not the WHAT. We are on the hunt for groundbreaking.

 If you are an authentic visionary and want to share your story to help people across different cultures and business ensure relevance for the future – then we invite you to submit an idea. Our goal is to revolutionize this event from a conference to a blended learning experience to accelerate future growth.

 While our event title is in limbo – thanks to all your feedback - we know the event will be focused on “Prediction to Implementation: exploratory learning experience for synthesizing world trends, brand strategy, innovation and human science into a future action plan”. 

 How will we achieve this?

 1. TOP TRENDS revealed from trend experts around the world. Is this you? If so, email us.

 2. STRATEGIC CONTEXTUALIZING – how is this visionary information relevant to what others do and how to adapt and implement it? Real world Business Cases work well to achieve this. Do you have a story to share? If so, email us

 3. Exploratory Learning: Putting trends and ideas into practice in real time. Workshops and field trips are some potential ideas – but we are open to more. Can you facilitate a workshop? Do you have an idea for a nontraditional experience? If so, email us.

**We are particularly interested in storytelling workshops by filmmakers or Hollywood producers as well as a 3D printing workshops. If you can help bring mind-blowing content delivered through extraordinary experiences email us.

 Due to the high volume of submissions, we suggest you submit your proposal early and no later than 7 June, 2013 to Romina Kunstadter, Conference Director. To submit your proposal, please email RKunstader@iirusa.com.

Presenters receive FREE admission to the entire 3-day conference. We are currently looking for client-side case studies ONLY (for consultants, vendors, and solutions providers, please additional information below*).

Following are a few topic ideas:
• Trend Tracking 
• Trend Implementation Strategy 
• Creativity & Innovation 
• Global Social Trends 
• Global Technological Innovations 
• Economic Trends 
• Behavioral Trends 
• Rapid Prototyping 
• Big Data & Analytics 
• Connectivity & Collaboration 
• Thriving in Emerging Markets 
• Consumer Trends 
• Environmental Trends 
• Design Trends 
• Creating a Futurist division within your company 
• Global Social Media Trends 
• Future of Millennial 

*INVESTING IN FUTURE TRENDS 2013: If you are interested in investing in this event as a sponsor please contact Jon Saxe at JSaxe@iirusa.com.

CALL FOR PRESENTERS: For consideration, please e-mail Rkunstadter@iirusa.com with the following information by 7th June.
• Proposed presenter name(s), job title(s), and company name(s)
• Contact information including address, telephone and e-mail
• Title and objective of presentation
• Please indicate which topic you plan to address and please indicate what is NEW about the presentation
• Summary of the talk
• What the audience will gain from your presentation (please list 3-5 key “take-aways”)
We came across this great presentation by Fast Company blogger David Brier, an award-winning designer and branding expert, inspired by this quote:

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” ― Muhammad Ali

A few weeks back we were watching Saturday Night Live (SNL) and then the following came on:

At first it looked like it was part of SNL.  Then it became clear - it wasn't.  It was a GE commercial.    It was a thoroughly entertaining and clever use of Agent Smith and The Matrix.  So much so, that both my wife and I commented on how the commercial was more entertaining than the previous SNL skit. 
I went to Twitter and posted my thoughts:

 I was pleasantly surprised when I received the following response:
And in my Direct Message box was the following:

Now this is getting interesting...

So, I sent in my info and the other day I received a package in the mail with the GE logo on back.
I opened it up....
A picture of me, a blend of my avatar and pixelated images of the commercial.  Cool!  I flipped it over.

Hello Michael,
Thanks for connecting with us on Twitter! Just like you, we believe in the power of technology to connect people and improve our lives.
Intrigued? Agent Smith was too.
Based on our conversation, we can tell you are indeed an agent of good, so we've enclosed a few items as our way of saying thanks.
(A list of what's enclosed...)
Enjoy & remember that just like #BrilliantMachines, we work better when we work together.

 I then went through the box:
Red and Blue lollipops- just like the commercial, (and a non-pharmaceutical homage to the red and blue pills of The Matrix.)

A handful of refrigerator magnets  that depict some of GE's #BrilliantMachines.

And a Fandango gift card.

Instantly my mind went back to the closing presentation at FUSE2013 by Steve Peters.  He emphasized how social media should be used in engaging and compelling ways so as to make people feel like they're in a movie.  In other words,  multiple types of media should be used in ways that makes people feel like they're rockstars. 

This also reminded me of KLM and their use of social media to create customized experiences for travelers that, yes, made them feel like popstars.

In the bigger scheme of things, what happened here with GE, or at FUSE, or with KLM, are not necessarily 'big' things.  But as people in relationships will say, it's the little things that matter. 

Creating a coherent, fun, and memorable experience in a 'little' way, (lollipops, magnets, Matrix motif paraphernalia) is a brilliant way to build brand - to build a relationship.

And isn't that what it's all about:

About the Author

Michael Plishka is the President of ZenStorming, a design and innovation consultancy. He can be followed on Twitter @Plish and through LinkedIn.

Read more at his  ZenStorming Blog.

Here's a round-up of FUSE 2013 coverage from around the web:

The Time Needed to Build a Strong Brand

FUSE Conference 2013 – Chicago

Event Recap - FUSE 2013

Here’s a look back at FUSE 2013:
•             Photos from the FUSE | CIULLA Welcome Cocktail Reception
•             FUSE Photo Gallery
•             #FuseDesign Media Archive


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