To test and scale ideas faster, Spyglass developed the Brand Collaboratory™—a learning lab approach that involves key stakeholders in the creation of messages and materials. We firmly believe that “doing it together” and iterating quickly outperforms the old agency model.
Are you moving through the day doing what you’ve always done—struggling with (or avoiding) the same persistent business or brand issues? Do you have a scattershot strategy, a mucked up PowerPoint or a story that just doesn’t sing?
Welcome to the club! The fact is, most of us aren’t optimizing our efforts and time. Which makes perfect sense, because individuals and organizations are actually hardwired to maintain the status quo, and we require certain conditions to make sustainable change, especially the big transformative kind.
At Spyglass, we have powerful processes to help our clients break out of their ruts and accelerate the adoption of new solutions—to generate the kind of meaningful results (and paradigm shifts) that so many businesses now require. Here are 3 key principles:
Ask better questions: In the old days, agencies like ours would receive a stated assignment or challenge from a client and begin brainstorming answers. Today, we start by asking new and better questions (an approach that spookily aligns with this meaty HBR Better Brainstorming article). For example, a recent assignment from a client was framed as a marketing communications project. A bit of deeper inquiry revealed that a trust- and relationship-building initiative was what was actually needed—and that’s what we proposed.
Get there faster: Too often it seems like the juiciest (and most differentiating) ideas get diluted and bogged down by the traditional research/review/approval process. To counteract that inertia, we’ve been deploying a new fast and focused Brand Collaboratory™ approach in order to rapidly iterate ideas to a point where they can be evaluated, tested and refined with real audiences sooner rather than later.
Do it together: Now, more than ever, we believe it’s time to reach beyond the marketing department to engage diverse stakeholders more meaningfully in the creative process—both to ensure relevance and build trust. A more collaborative process increases internal enthusiasm, belief and buy-in, which is essential to the adoption of an impactful, market-relevant and potentially game-changing story.
This part is critical, because companies are often structurally resistant to doing (and saying) things in new ways. According to innovation consultant Stefan Lindegaard: “Change is frightening to many elements inside the typical organization. Change threatens people’s power, their status, their egos, and, in some situations, even their jobs. Change can make someone’s expertise obsolete and thereby make them obsolete as well. Because people are afraid of change, innovation efforts often cause the eruption of corporate antibodies that fight to kill innovation and maintain the status quo.”
Maybe you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel (or your category) but simply need some fresh eyes and juice to jumpstart your marketing. Let’s get started!
The old axiom claims that there are no bad ideas… but anyone who’s been in a brainstorming session knows that’s just not true. Since cavemen first sketched on walls, humans have been capturing concepts and exploring possibilities on vertical surfaces.
Certainly in creative agencies, brainstorming is a time-tested way to generate new solutions to thorny problems. Yet as a discipline, it’s typically undisciplined at best.
“Brainstorming is Worthless,” provocatively proclaims a recent article in Inc. “What a brainstorm session should be is a place to challenge the ideas that have already been vetted,” rants author Nicolas Cole. “Not a free-for-all breakout session where anything and everything goes.” Cole thinks it’s a waste of time to have a group noodling together and tossing out whatever ideas happen to flow. Instead he advocates a process whereby each team member has done their own generative thinking and comes to the table with winnowed-down directions they are ready to defend.
Meanwhile, over in the Harvard Business Review, Hal Gregersen takes a thoughtful (long) view on different protocols and processes and advocates a “better brainstorming” approach that he claims yields the most fruitful futures. Interestingly, over 20 years of practice, he has observed that “the people least likely to engage in the exercise and follow the rules are the folks with the highest positions or greatest technical expertise… who cripple the truth-seeking capability of the entire group.” He emphasizes the importance of organizational culture in creating environments conducive to truly meaningful brainstorming. “Leaders must show humility, vulnerability and trust, and they must empower others and treat them equitably.” Sounds like a recipe for all kinds of transformation and growth!
Here at Spyglass, we’re evolving our collaborative creative process (see our Be the Change post) and have experienced the direct benefits of using a more structured, inclusive and nimble approach. We’d love to show you.
Are you up with the sun or a reluctant riser? Do you meditate, make to-do lists or chug coffee on the run? In many ways, how we start our mornings sets the tone for what’s to come in the days (and years!) that follow. Such is the premise behind “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired,” a new book by authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, who interviewed 300 highly successful people about their morning routines.
We ordered the book, but haven’t received it yet, so we took the liberty of asking a few people around the agency about their morning routines and heard this:
“I set aside my phone and watch the news while I’m drinking my coffee. It helps ground me in what’s going on in the world and gives me a bigger perspective.”
“On most days I go for a run. Sometimes it’s just racing to the bus stop with a forgotten backpack or lunchbox. But that’s something, right?”
“I take a shower and think about all the stuff I want to wash away… worries, disappointments, mistakes. It helps me start the day fresh and leave yesterday behind.”
“I’d like to say I meditate, but it’s more like I’m just staring straight ahead mindlessly while I’m waiting for the caffeine to kick in.”
Not exactly the breakfast of champions, perhaps, but maybe once we get the book, our habits can improve. Here’s hoping!
Ten ways brands are saying Olympics without saying “Olympics”: How to free ride the games vibe without stepping on any toes
If you are a fan of our monthly newsletter or just a casual enthusiast, you probably know that we led our most recent August edition with the do’s and don’ts for brands that want to free ride the social media wave during the Rio 2016 Olympics. Well, despite a boatload of copyright restrictions from the IOC and their paid sponsors when it comes to mentioning your brand alongside anything Olympics related, some clever companies are still jumping onboard, making waves and avoiding the long arm of the intellectual property law. It’s living proof that the iconic nature of the games gives you the ability to conjure associations using all sorts of ideas that aren’t trademarked and do not require a logo. You need to think on the fly. It’s a little bit like Pictionary. But as we all know, sometimes finding the simplest way to get the idea across can be the hardest thing to do of all. Except for us—we were #phelpsface-ing it up before it was even cool. Although, truth be told, it might have been all of the early Spring road construction projects around here.
Read the full article on Adweek here
With all this talk of mindfulness and taking advantage of the serenity of summer to explore and expand the inner soul, we would like to take you deep within—your own company. The Tao of whatever it is you do, as it were. At Spyglass, we hold true to the concept that your brand is only as good as the engagement by your own internal team. We not only stress the idea, we craft the message, define the mediums, and help many companies make it happen. After all, if your own people don’t believe it, why would anybody else?. Employee brand engagement and communications are among the most neglected elements of a company’s marketing plan. We’ve shown scores of companies how to bring everybody along for the ride. It’s more fun that way anyway. So, while people are vacationing and getting tan, rested and ready for a massive fourth-quarter push, may we provide a concise reminder of the importance of the element within so you are prepared for the next leap forward.
Feels like a flashback, man. Back in 1970 when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released Déjà vu with the track “Almost Cut My Hair”, they were talking about savoring the good mojo of the 1960s. It was the peoples’ movement. Promoting the idea that being yourself and not being ashamed about it was where it was at. Letting your long hair, or as CSNY called it, your “freak flag”, fly. Now here we are in 2015, and the rapidly emerging mantra for brands is one the sixties counterculture embraced: people power and individualism. For companies, this means being human, being yourself and keeping it real. Welcome to 2015, the Woodstock year of brand building. Where brands succeed with a healthy mix of transparency, warts-and-all honesty and acting the way real people act. Giving customers the freedom to interact with your brand in ways they prefer. Looks like it’s time to forget about keeping up with the Dow Joneses. Time to embrace what makes your brand unique. And most importantly, being creative about how you express what makes you different. We’re down with that. Peace, love … and happy brand new year.
See other predictions for 2015
Read a short, but excellent explanation of why Burning Man wants to keep brands from commodifying the last non-commodified experience on earth.
For any brand, advertising via email and other digital channels is a must. You’re probably already doing it, so you know it can be one of the most inexpensive and customer-preferred ways to engage. It’s targeted, timely and works on mobile—so you can connect anytime and your audience can view content at their own convenience. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses are taking a shot in the dark. Here are five ways to sound like you know what you’re talking about when it comes to branded emails and to shed some serious moonlight on best practices.
For the uninitiated, Burning Man is an annual event that takes place the week leading up to and including Labor Day, in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. The event is about art, self-expression, and self-reliance (with shhhhh: a hint of imaginative commercialism as well). Spyglass will be there with, among other things, a large orange yeti and two RVs named Miss Jocelyn and Miss Jenna. We’ll be exploring the expression of a brand in all its forms, and we can’t wait to see how other entrepreneurs are pushing the envelope. See what some other brilliant minds have in store for the event. At Burning Man, people don’t just dream up giant cool stuff, they go out and do it–and do it well. Subscibe to our blog to follow our journey.
Researchers found that sentences containing words that invoke taste-activated areas known to be associated with emotional processing, also spark increased brain activity. Learn more about the conceptual effect of metaphors. Yum. We think.