Age of the Personal Brand

I have contemplated an idea that is growing larger. The idea of having a personal brand. And as with any brand, comes the brand mark or logo.  So my idea is this; are we truly returning to pictographic or iconographic society?

Evidence would argue that we are. More and more information in our everyday life is being identified by graphic representation and not the written word. Case in point; look to your desktop or mobile device. Very few icons include the use of text. In some cases, applications on mobile devices and desktops are using more icons and graphics to convey processes and functions. One of the obvious reasons is universal use.

Look to another rise in our society, social media brings us the increasing use of emoticons. Graphic icons to replace a set of emotional terms or statements. Technology has brought us back to a digital hieroglyphic age. Everything is becoming represented by icons. If so, then can we create icons for ourselves?

I say it already is happening. From the use of initials to clever Social Media avatar icons, we are in the age of personal branding and with personal branding comes personal logos. To give you an example here are my initials; K.M.D. I have used these all through my art life and as part of my signature. So what happens when I evolve from text to icons? what does my personal brand logo become?

KMD Brand Logo 500

A stylized expression of my initials transformed into a personal brand logo. A logo that can be used in social media as well as to identify ownership of things that belong to me.

But why do we need such icons for ourselves? In an age of graphics and speed, a personal logo does for a person what  a logo mark does for companies, creates a unique symbol that is connected to an individual who may share a name with many others. It is a way to stand out and be recognized.

My prediction is that we are about to see the boom of the personal logo trend. In our world of billions of online citizens, personal logos create that need to be unique or at least be seen as being unique. Soon small garage and bedroom businesses will appear who specialize in creating personal logos and human brands. Who knows, maybe brand consultants will help with couples wishing to join brands or couples needing to create new personal brands due to separation or loss. We have become an industry of we/me.

Is it right? Should we move further back into pictographic and iconographic languages? Maybe not, yet when has that ever stopped a generation or society from following a trend because of popularity or technologic need?

So, you be you and I’ll be me and my mark will be my proof of existence.

Why Change is Hard

In the Jar

There is an old quote I heard many years ago that goes something like this;

“You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”

Each time I’m asked about strategic ideation or innovation labs and why I believe them to be such a powerful tools for clients, businesses and organizations I always remember the quote. Trying to find a solution or discover new opportunities when you are so close to the situation or the problem is usually highly improbable. You see, it’s very hard to challenge yourself with questions or perceptions that drive new discoveries. The reason is simply, we naturally avoid asking ourselves questions we don’t know the answers to.

In many cases, to discover fresh ideas, solve problems or uncover new opportunities, it requires someone outside your jar to challenge with questions, ideas or observations that may be beyond your normal sight lines or focus. Strategic ideation or innovation labs conducted by outside resources can assist with this type of challenging thinking, a type of thinking process that becomes a provocateur to historic patterns and beliefs.

So, if you trying to “think outside the box”, change the paradigm or have a desire to change course direction, then my suggestion to you is to seek out an outside specialist to help you to see what is written the other side of the label. When you can do that, then you can begin to discover the opportunities and solutions unseen before.

As Winnie the Pooh always says “Think Think Think” and see how.

KMD

Flow of the Experience

Many speak on the topic of experiences. This creates many interpretations of how experiences are defined. What I have come to notice is how very few speak about broader picture of experiences. The flow as you may say.

Experiences are viewed generally as an event or a moment in time. In many cases this is a true statement, however, there is a larger view of an experience that most overlook. The view of the experiential flow.

Every event or experience in one’s life rarely just happens spontaneously and then is gone. No, a well staged experience requires careful planning and structure. It is this structure that helps properly stage an experience and ensure it produces the desired effect and lasting memory.

What does this structure look like? It is a combination of time and spacial elements aligned in a unique sequence.

E Flow sm

The dominate time factors are Before, During and After an event or experience. The deeper aspects are action zones such as Enticing, Entering, Existing, Engaging, Exiting and Extending. Finally, there are the spacial aspects such as the Outer world which exist in the Before and After time factors, the Environment which has the experience and finally, the Point-Of-Experience where the target experience is staged.

All of these elements of time and space comprise the staging of an experience, not merely just the Point-Of-Experience or the Experience. To stage a successful experience, an experience must be orchestrated well before the experiential moment to create desire to enter and then afterwards to ensure the memory created is strong enough to create more wish to return.

The experiential flow should never be seen as a single instance. The Extending actions should always lead back to the Enticing to ensure repeat visits.

So, the next time you hear someone speak about an experience, be aware if they speak of the entirety or the instance, because a well staged experience is so much more the experiential moment most focus on.

If you want to hear more, please contact me via email.

 

The Edge of Change

The world we live in is a funny place. Conversations, styles and even perceived needs are cyclical. What is old is new and new, well, that’s so this morning. Every thing changes. Everything. Those things, people, businesses that don’t, well, that’s so in the past. Change is the only constant they say and I find it to be true. Change up, change back, change around, change out, change into, etc… We have so many perceptions of change that the adaptations seem endless.

Change comes in various sizes and increments. Some changes are dramatic while others are subtle. No matter what, change happens to us all each day. The real goal is to try to guide change as best we can, because change never happens as we expect. It always has hidden surprises or consequences.

But what is change? When does something or someone change? I guess that answer lies in the eye of the observer. Only those closely watching can see the change happening, but for most, we see the event after the change. But what if you could plan change in some fashion. This I have asked for some time and here is what I have created.

Based on the idea that yesterday and today are unchangeable, if you avoid any theoretical ideas of time travel, that only leaves the future for change. And, if change only happens in the future, than you can guide the outcome given you can determine all the factors affected by change. And so, here is my model for change.

Change Deltasm

This is my Delta model for change. Even if you stand at the very edge, change will occur. Time always moves forward and you must move with it. But you can decide how you want the change to happen and what you want the change to create once you understand why you want or need the change to happen.

As the model indicates, change should be an improvement and performed of a duration of time through some given process. Also, you must determine any and all pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder you crossing the gap of change.

So the steps:

  1. Why is there a need for change? “Why”
  2. How will this change occur? “How”
  3. Who can help you achieve this change? “Who”
  4. What improvement will change create? “What”
  5. How long will the change take? “When”
  6. And where do you want to be when the change is complete? “Where”

Map the change before you act. Take you intangible idea and make it a tangible plan.

Not All Customer Experiences Are True Experiences

As the old adage goes, “All ponies are horses, but not all horses are ponies.” This is the same for ‘Customer Experiences.’ Not all customer experiences are truly an experience that creates economic value. Making the distinction between an Experience and a customer experience can be confusing if you assume both are the same. Let me make it simple, they’re not. Most customer experiences are merely good or great customer service labeled with an over used buzzword. Calling customer service a customer experience does not elevate it to a true experience.

The term “Customer experience” has become the catchall phrase for anything above an expected customer relationship performance by a provider. Consumers expect good, if not, great customer service, but it’s not unique enough to be called a Customer Experience. If a retailer adds extras like a coffee station or creates a good aesthetic environment through sound and trimmings to entice customers to buy, this does not guarantee that have created, or more precisely, staged an experience. All that has been accomplished is an improvement to the environment of a service or goods provider. There is no real economic value created from the experience itself only the application of dressing to increase sales.

How can you determine if your ‘Customer Experience’ is actually a true experience or packaging for promoting sales? Look at it this way; an experience is an offering where-as the consumer is willing to pay for the time spent and not the goods or services purchased. An experience is focused on creating memories and not selling things. This is not to say that an experience does not provide goods or services as part of an offering, only that it is not the focus of the offering.

Simple rule of thumb; if the focus of your offering is simply on the selling of goods or services provided and not the time spent interacting with the customer, than you are, by definition, in the Goods or Service business creating only good or great customer service to sell stuff and not a true Experience stager helping to create memories for consumers.

There is greater value in memories than in merchandise.

To learn more about the value of Experiences read; Science Daily’s:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090207150518.htm, Fast Company’s post: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3043858/world-changing-ideas/the-science-of-why-you-should-spend-your-money-on-experiences-not-thing or, I would suggest reading B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore’s book“The Experience Economy” Update version.

Welcome to the Experience Economy

When I hear how some people talk about customer experience (CustExp) or user experience (UX) I get a bit frustrated. Why, because most are speaking about good customer service or a good interface design and not really about an experience that provides an economic value worth paying more for the experience. No what they are really saying is we offer an expected customer service like everyone else. A service that is not measured how well a customer is involved with your offering, rather how efficient you provided it on a consistent basis.

Customer experience has become a replacement buzzword for good customer service without too much sacrifice for the customer or the provider while still keep within budgeted limits. Even some of the books written by so-called customer experience experts are usually no more than satisfaction program authors or worse yet, neglect the point-of-view from the eyes of the customer, rather what they believe to be good for the customer.

Okay, so I am a bit touchy on the subject, so much so that I put the whole book thing to the test by asking myself, of all these authors which ones have had the longest run in print and in person about their unique perspective on experiences. And when I mean unique, I mean that they were the originators and not the adaptors of a given concept. After a few dozen book purchases from the half-price and used book stores I found many were alterations of each other and finding which author came first is like answering the age-old question; chicken or the egg. Only genetics can tell.

There were a few books out there that I didn’t find on the used book shelves, mostly because of limited run or out of print. One however stood out, a book written by two gentlemen with various backgrounds ranging from Logic, Physics and Economics. Both having a strong background in multiple fields of science. Science! not marketing or sales, but science. What’s most impressive is the reason its hard to find their book on the used bookshelves is because it’s still in print and has recently been updated after 10 years. No other author or authors I could find have done this. Maybe you can find a few.

B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore wrote their original book, not white-paper publication, on the subject of the Experience Economy (note: not just the customer experience) in 1999 and then translated in 18 languages that I can find. Then in 2010, it was updated to show changes and the widening growth of the Experience Economy. Through their research and writing identify the economic impact and value and not merely state customer interfaces or service programs.

I was so impressed by their books I began attending their special conferences around their books. Not your typical conferences I grant you, these were “Experiences” all to themselves. the best way to prove your findings and ideas. Good customer experience is expected by customers, staging a true experience delivers on the unexpected and creates memories. Many reports have proven that customers value memories more than goods and those companies boasting good or great customer experiences are all goods or service providers and not truly experience stagers. That is the difference.

To put an exclamation mark on my post, I attended the “Experience Economy Certification” course. A five-day deep dive into the Experience Economy as an economic era and to learn and understand the techniques that companies can use to create experiences worth paying for and not just selling goods or services.

As of this post, I am proud to be of a part of a selected few now honored to be an Experience Economy Experts and not a Customer Experience Specialist.

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