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Be the Change

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!

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Brainstorming: Yay or Nay?

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.

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It’s what’s inside that matters: A note to self for a contemplative August afternoon

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.

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How 3M is hipping it up a notch for SXSW

 

3M hits SXSW with a cool new campaign to raise brand awareness. If you aren’t familiar, South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, music festivals and conferences held each year, mid-march in Austin, Texas. It’s a big deal for brands. This year 3M is adding a new wrinkle to the mix with some smart, interactive thinking that helps festival goers keep their busy schedules together at the event.

Photo courtesy of 3M

 

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Go ahead, call it a comeback: How Taylor Swift and a tiny HD video camera are putting Polaroid back in the picture

We love brand revivals. It’s sort of our sweet spot. Which is why seeing Polaroid rise like a phoenix from the celluloid ashes caught our collective attention. For Polaroid, the timing couldn’t be better. Instant photography is making a comeback and Polaroid has a cool new camera for it. Taylor Swift’s new 1989 album features Polaroid snapshots of her youth, back in the days before selfies, when the Instamatic and its (almost) instant photos were all the rage.

The tiny 1” Cube camera takes wide angle HD video and costs one-third of the price of the popular GoPro.

Photo Credit: Poloaroidcube.com

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What’s up dog? Teen invents new product to FaceTime pets and “treat them up!”

 

To all you closet inventors out there, get crackin’! It’s never too early and certainly never too late. Meet the teenage girl who wowed the GeekWire Summit in Seattle and got her iCPooch product to market. Get those innovative product ideas you’ve got percolating ready for the 2015 summit. Stat!

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Does your brand sound tasty enough?

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.

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Need examples? Forward thinking is just guts in disguise.

For successful companies, it starts at the top. Unfortunately, half of the greatest ideas out there die on the vine because managers in companies don’t have the desire to fight the battles that it takes to go big. The Spyglass mantra has always been this: upper, upper management has to get on board with new brand work or the new thinking that emerges. Otherwise, the daring ideas and the exciting, new path towards growing your business becomes nothing more than tears in the rain.

Get inspired by the big hitters who dared to dive in head first.

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