Helping Move Others Into a New World

Here’s the thing. The most successful brands today – whether it’s Starbucks or Apple or Oprah or Lady Gaga – aren’t just different. They create difference. They don’t just reflect the culture or find ways to agree with the consumer, they actively shape the culture. They’re not afraid to challenge or provoke; hell, they maybe live for that stuff. They are cultural entrepreneurs. They take something familiar – coffee, a cell phone, daytime TV, pop music, – and find a way to reframe the experience around it that changes the way we look at and think about it, that transforms the way we make it a part of our lives. Through the intense projection of a bold and particular point of view, they rework the story, they create a new kind of cultural myth that draws us in until it becomes our myth too. They’re not necessarily making an innovative product so much as an innovative cultural viewpoint (that just happens to sell that particular product).

Getting back to myth again, what these brands do is put us through a kind of initiation. They uproot us from established beliefs and customs – like the idea that coffee shouldn’t cost more than a dollar a cup. They move us into a new world (where a coffee costs four dollars). Think of an Apple store, with its own unique layout and design and vocabulary (it doesn’t have a help desk, it has a genius bar). In this new world, the brand acts as mentor. It gives us a tool or a skill or an insight that helps us advance toward self-actualization. When we leave that world, and return to our ordinary world, we take that gift with us and apply it to changing our life in some small but notable way. Through word-of-mouth we share that boon with our community.

It might be worth asking yourself, what do you believe that nobody else believes? How can you express that belief through your product or service in a way that someone else might find relevant and even self-enhancing? Don’t just ask, who is your consumer – ask, who do you want your consumer to become? What kind of story can you tell around your product or service to help him become that? How can you build out the world of your story so that the consumer can find different ways of entering it and interacting with it — especially in this day and age of social media?

I don’t think in terms of platform anymore; your platform is your storyworld for the consumer to explore and get lost in.

Justine Musk, Don’t Lose The Snake: Creativity, Difference The Bold Point of View

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