For the next 15 days, I’m going to participate in Reverb 10. It’s an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us.
Today’s prompt – CORE STORY: What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world?
It’s the end of the year, the final thoughts, the look-ahead, the last of the 2010 Friday 4-1-1′s, and the end of the Reverb10 series, all wrapped up into 1 post. And how fitting it is, stripping things down to the core, the thing that means the most – the story.
My story here has been an exploration. I didn’t start with much of a plan or many key message pillars and certainly nothing in mind for a “year later.” It all started pretty simple. I was open. But what’s happened through the exploration is that I’ve actually formed a story. It’s a story that’s centered around this wide-open space we call Out-of-Home, but it’s not about screens or technology. It’s about INTERACTIVITY, and ENGAGEMENT, and the PLACES/THINGS AROUND US being able to be TURNED ON, and more than anything, it’s about TELLING the BRAND’S STORY. These 4 themes have surfaced to the top in my exploration and it’s here – with these 4 themes – that I want to focus exploring more in the coming year. These are the core themes to my story. So, today’s Friday 4-1-1 is dedicated to them.
1. INTERACTIVITY – From the beginning, I’ve latched onto the concept that Interactive Out-of-Home is markedly different than Digital Out-of-Home. They’re both centered around technology, but different types of technology that do different types of things. I believe that you can make anything interactive, be it from a digital experience or not. But what deems something truly “interactive?” Is it just the fact that a consumer can take some sort of an action? Or is it deeper than that?
2. ENGAGEMENT – Interactivity and Engagement go hand-in-hand. Once something is interactive, it could be implied that it’s engaging. But not so fast. One does not necessarily make the other. The two are linked, yes, but true brand engagement might not be accomplished by simply taking an action. All actions are not created equal. If brands understand where consumers are in the funnel, they can drive true, meaningful brand engagement, all through some level of interactivity. Can this only happen with some scientific formula and an endless well of content?
3. PLACES/THINGS AROUND US TURNED “ON” – This is probably the most nebulous theme of them all, but I believe it’s just because we’re still quite a ways in front of the curve. In 2010, we saw bikes with brains. Trees that could talk. And interactive cars. But these are the exception. Technology is rapidly developing to the point where anything can be turned “on.” Will we see more and more places/things around us taking the place of physical “screens” in 2011? Or will we see more actual screens?
4. TELLING THE BRAND’S STORY – In college, me and my buddy had dreams of becoming the next Coen Brothers filmmaking dynamic duos. He’d direct, I’d write, and we’d both produce. It fit our skillsets and our passions perfectly. So, we grinded through the grind for many years trying to make that dream a reality, but in the end, it just wasn’t meant to be (ironically enough, he heads the film/video division for our company!) Every once in awhile, I get the itch to write another movie. I just haven’t been able to devote the long periods of time that it calls for with everything else going on in my life (I keep telling myself “when the kids are older.”) But over this holiday season, I’ve thought alot about that type of storytelling – the type with a beginning, middle, and end – compared to the brand type of storytelling – the type that’s structured around key messages and evolves over time – and how brands could write their story like a movie. It’s compelling and I’m going to dive deeper into it in the future. Can transmedia work for an automaker the same way it can work for a movie franchise? What does social media do to the story?
“Uh-huh” – At the end of the day, from a brand’s perspective, it’s all about building relationships with consumers. These four themes are at the heart of doing just that. It’s not easy to do, but I want to uncover who’s doing a good job at it vs. who isn’t, especially when they’re reaching people outside of their home.
“Duh” – I hope to not write as much about QR codes in the coming year. Yes, they provide a level of interactivity and engagement, and in some cases, drive the consumer deeper into the brand experience, but the complete solution – from a brand’s POV – needs to be improved. Mobile and Out-of-Home are linked together, and hopefully we’ll see more and more rich experiences involving the two. I’ve got to relax on the QR codes.
So there you have it. I’m excited about this direction in 2011. Thank you all for joining me on this exploration. Your readership and support means an incredible amount to me. I truly appreciate every one of you. I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable and prosperous new year! See you on the flipside.