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Innovative Culture

The tale of the brave bears | About country brand experience

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‘It was early in the morning and I was ready to departure to the Country of the Bears. Again I was going to delve into their forests which goes from the mountains to the sea. It wasn’t an unknown land for me, but this time was different. I would know not only new towns, but also more and new bears .

After several hours, I went deeper into the forest and slowly I arrived to the first bear‘s town. I noticed, when entering the city, that there was few office buildings (in the woods, animals also have this kind of urban areas), on the contrary, what I saw were factories. The first thought that came to my mind was… Bears are so tough, brave, and industrial workers.

That image, that perception, followed me throughout the journey. At a exquisite bar in the center of the town, I met one of the bears that wanted to know. With that bear, we kept a fairly fluid contact via messages in bottles… bottles that we use to find at the ‘sea of bottles with messages’, where only few of them are worthwhile.

 The meeting was casual, we were animal whith good references. The brave bear was also warm, respectful, friendly … and yes, with industrial spirit … and you could smell it in each and every grunt. We visited its village, full of bears (obvious) and open to the rest of animals of the forest… There was room to squirrels, rabbits and other less fierce animals. Even the bears games that they have downtown, which looked like silent monuments, represented their laconic, austere and silent spirit. Fond memories of that meeting will remain in my mind… forever!

I followed my way and got to my second meeting in anther city of bears (of course… this tale speaks of these animals) called “Mydragon“. Again, the industrial suburbs, deeper than in my first visit…  a more intense experience.  

I arrived to the cave of bears that were waiting for me … Anecdotal evidence: some of them wear rings as a bear‘s symbol and it looks like all of them have their hair cut with the same hairdresser ;-).

They showed their cave, their working environment, which, although creative, still smelt like a factory. I liked it!

With them I took the road to the last of my travel destinations in the Country of the Bears. From the mountain we went down to the sea. Forest trees were behind … We were at one of its beaches, actually we were at “the beach“. We ate, drank, shared experiences, that among animals of diverse species are often different, although none were distant.

The story continues and I remember it fondly…

What I learned from the bears

I believe that the first lesson is that there is a clear difference between emotion and representation. I mean, a meeting may be full of emotions, unique and unrepeatable, however it doesn’t need to be expressed and represented with great eloquence.

Bears are tough animals, workers and as the story says, they smell of industry… His character is somewhat dry and in some cases, even distant. But when you are with them, you may recognize their esteem, their closeness and the different way the have of expressing it.

The second lesson is that even this way of being is a differential characteristic. Many times, if not too many, it is thought that what it’s around us, to reach the depths of our being it has to touch our souls.  Particularly, to me, a Mercedes Benz does not touch my soul, although I think it would be an exciting experience.

In its hardness, in its brevity, its seriousness, its dry … bears, using their own way, generate emotions… and that is what makes the difference.

The third learning is that identity is rooted in values of belonging. Bears are proud of their forest and of being bears. For different reasons this is also true for other animals that are over this world, and we can learn from them (the bears I say).

We live talking about self-expression as an issue that is independent of the place where we live and the other animals with whom we share our lifes. Let us be what we are, neither more nor less … We have to know that each of us is different, live our-own experiences in our-own way… and if there is something that unites us, it would be the feeling of belonging in what was always ours.

Branding is an issue of, for and among animals… and I will be never tired of saying … New technologies, those that have developed and are eating many humans, can be tools to be better connected, to learn more (although more superficial), to find others of our species in remote places… but are just that, tools…

Things should return to its natural order … subjects first, objects well behind us!

The country brand experience

The last day I was with the bears, I participated in one of their events (great and for me very grateful, of course). During it, one of the key topic discussed was ‘Are bears good sellers? Do we have a clear differential attribute because we live inthe Country of the Bears?’

After a couple of weeks that I was thinking about these issues, let me share some thoughts:

  • We buy what the bears produce because of their seriousness, their brave and the smell of industry. Do not try to sell as squirrels because you will create uncertainty, confusion … The bears are bears and that is their greatest asset. Follow the recipe of your hearts and do not try to imitate others animals… please!
  •  If the Bears want to sell outside their forest, they must continue (also) being bears However, try to create empathy with the other animals to understand and talk with them in their own languages… This goes for any animal that wants to go to sell to other species
  •  I love and even I have a healthy envy for the pride that the bears show of their forest, the Bear Country. And this is another asset, not to go growling the benefits of the forest, but to put it as a recognized reference that makes them different and unique…
  •  It’s not a question of selling but buying, living our experience, participating and talking… The bears may be harsh and grumpy … but they are warm, emotional, friendly (when they wish… haha) and participatory.
And finally and I promise that I leave you in peace (this post has become very long)… Change bear by Basque and re-read the story! … Cheers!

Only entrepreneurship overcomes the crisis

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Politicians are still trying to understand the crisis, some big companies are launching innocuous campaigns, bankers are crying because they didn’t deserve this situation… Should I continue the list? Probably I could, but that’s not the point.

In this social network we use to talk about branding, about brand experiences… about us!… We could isolate branding issues from our current situation, however, it would look at certain point, something between naïf and unconscious.

Reality, which is neither the Big Brother nor Code Lyoko, is showing us that to overcome the crisis, we do need as individuals certain specific behaviours (remember what Dr. Utterson said when he talked about the online and offline worlds… both are real).

Going back to the first sentence of this post:

  • Today’s politicians (from the left, center or right) learned how to manage a country as if sea captains had learnt to sail in calm waters
  • Some big companies used to be managed under the SYA (Save Your Ass) policies. So, everything coming from them seems to be decaffeinated
  • Bankers follow the patterns designed by the Chicago’s boys or the ones that are fashionable, and teach how to overcome a crisis produced by others

All that I mentioned above have something in common…. All the people involved behave as bureaucrats. This is not bad, however, it is not enough to overcome a crisis.

Both bureaucrats as well as employees are needed to make the world work, and probably, they are better prepared to manage stable situations than other kind of people.

Today’s crisis is a point of inflection. It cannot be solved with old formulas because, probably, we are not going to go back to same old habits…. And they have no idea of what to do.

What is the connection of this with brand experiences?

During a long period of time I was thinking of differentiating between big brands from those ones that we finally fall in love with (it’s a way of saying):

  • Big brands belong to big companies, they have deep coverage, and we are aware of their existence. e.g.: GE (one of the brands with highest economic value worldwide)
  • Brands that we finally fall in love with could belong to big companies… or not. They are focused on their tribe. We are aware of their existence if we are familiar with the tribe… and we would love them if we live deeply their experience one time after another

And here comes the point… The brands that are loved have another key characteristic: they were created by an entrepreneur and his/her soul is still alive in the company.

Entrepreneurs think about brand positioning because they want to give strategic intention to their promises. However, before that, they bring to the brand experience two other things:

  • A call to action idea that is permanent, based on their value agendas and make the difference over time
  • They are the story behind the scene that personalizes that brand experience

We can love or hate those people… Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and/or Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). But for sure, they do not go unnoticed.

These people are not complaining about limitations, regulations,… They are creating new rules. They rule their way of living!

Still looks that there is no connection… Hmmmm

The message in the bottle

Let’s merge both ideas, crisis and entrepreneurs…

  • Entrepreneurs are people who have a dream and the ability to make it come true
  • Entrepreneurs are not afraid of crisis because they live in an eternal one
  • Entreprenuers are inflexible with their ideas and flexible with their implementation
  • Entrepreneurs never surrender
  • Crisis forces to change habits
  • Crisis are solved by braves (a politically correct way of saying ‘crazies’)
  • Crisis requires flexibility and speed
  • Crisis usually keeps in our minds (self-fulfilling prophecy)

To overcome this crisis that we are “enjoying” now, we do need to create new kinds of experiences. Those experiences must be aligned with new behaviours, with new value agendas. Brands are not going to be what they were because we are not going to live the way that we were living up to now.

Only somebody with a soul of an entreprenuer (also if he/she is an employee) is able to understand this and do something… Actually, they are doing it!

Finally, perhaps it’s time to pay attention to the entrepreneurs and the brand experiences that they are creating because they are the ones who are going to change the world.

Period!