Frank Rose is simply the most extraordinary expert in the entertainment and marketing fields and my most favorite thought leader on new forms of narrative.
Rose, a Senior Fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, a member of the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, and faculty co-leader of its executive education seminar on digital storytelling strategy is also a longtime writer for Wired, strategy+business and author of The Art of Immersion.
Rose allows that every new digital medium has disrupted the grammar of narrative.
Frank’s seminal work on immersive storytelling and his new focus on The Science of Story, unlock the future for every brand to deliver today’s business value.
Follow FR if you want to know where your brand narrative should be heading, assuming you are leading your company toward transformational innovation and engaging people in these digitally disruptive times.
MARY OLSON: I often wonder where your appetite for new knowledge has taken you since 2012. What are your thoughts as you look back on the four years since publishing The Art of Immersion? How have your views changed?
FRANK ROSE: Well, obviously many of the TV shows I wrote about—Lost and The Office and Mad Men, among others—are no longer on the air, although their impact is still felt and their place in pop culture is pretty well assured.
Entertainment and marketing are if anything even more game-like and participatory than when I wrote the book.
Social media is more important than ever.
The big change is virtual reality and the incredible excitement it’s generated, even though most people still don’t even know it exists. Newspapers are jumping in— The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today.
Advertisers are jumping in. And it seems to be generating, even more, excitement for its storytelling possibilities than for games.
Obviously, VR is extremely immersive—that’s its appeal. But in other ways, it runs entirely against the grain of digital media as we’ve known it to date.
Yes, you can tweet about it, but there’s nothing inherently social about having your head encased in goggles. And unlike conventional video, it breaks completely with the grammar of cinema that was developed at the dawn of the motion picture industry. Cuts, pans, fades—none of these work in 360 videos.
There are some great pioneers at work—people like Eugene Chung at Penrose and Edward Saatchi at Oculus. I suspect it’ll be awhile—and to the extent that it’s adopted, will take us in a direction most people haven’t thought about.
MO: Your chapter, How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart includes philosophical and Zen-like views. Social culture and media narratives seem more and more delusional these days. How do you feel about the way the world is emerging?
FR: When I wrote that, I imagined the world of Disney and the world of Philip K. Dick [the American science fiction writer whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis for Blade Runner] as opposites, in style if not necessarily in substance.
But the Walt Disney Company has evolved far beyond Walt himself, and the world is growing closer and closer to the highly disconcerting visions of PKD. A crypto-fascist reality TV star for president.
I suspect the purchase of Lucasfilm and the revival of the Star Wars franchise are going to bring these two closer together than ever. The differences in style will be minimized. And digital technology and the thirst for immersive experiences are only going to accelerate the process.
As I wrote in the book, digital technology blurs dividing lines that were considered sacrosanct in the industrial era—between author and audience, story and game, content and advertising, fiction and reality.
Who can tell the difference any more? That’s why we hunger for authenticity.
MO: The way businesses need to communicate is changing. Where is your journey taking you next?
There’s also my blog, Deep Media, which chronicles new developments in storytelling, including some of my projects. Next up will be the DSS seminar focusing on “The Science of Story”. The first segment is titled, “Why Stories? Why Now?” and explains how stories are changing in response to digital technology and how immersion is more sought-after than ever.
“The Science of Story” follows up with an account of recent neuroscience and cognitive psychology research that demonstrates how compelling stories are at changing people’s beliefs and explains why that might be.
MO: Thank you, Frank. Your insights inform not only corporate strategists but watchful adopters, too. We all benefit from your futurist insights about how authentic stories transform people’s behaviors and inform digital marketing and transformative business models.
As Nicholas Ind, Oriol Iglesias, and Majken Schultz wrote in strategy + business, Adi Dassler, a cobbler by training and a keen sportsman observed athletes, talked to them about their needs and then experimented with novel ways of solving their problems. Dassler engaged an iterative process that relied on prototyping and testing and evolving production innovations.
Dassler acquired his first patent on a pair of running shoes in 1925, and three years later, a runner wearing his shoes won an Olympic gold. In 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Dassler’s shoes.
During Adi Dassler’s lifetime, his company, adidas continued to expand and develop new markets and sports. But the company always united by Adi’s belief in “only the best for the athlete” and his philosophy of industrialized craftsmanship created a stream of innovative products.
Today, the value of authenticity and a deep understanding of the brand also extend into innovative partnerships. adidas selects partners largely by their potential for alignment with the values and philosophy of the company.
Radical designs have opened new audiences and sales channels while encouraging adidas’s designers to be more adventurous.
Credit: Zak Noyle/A-Frame/Parley for the Oceans
As Steve Vincent, Senior Vice President of adidas future, says, “That’s the challenge—to do completely disruptive things that no one ‘s ever seen or expected but still feel like they should come from this brand.”
Along comes PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS, an organization dedicated to reducing plastic waste in oceans. Parley’s collaboration with adidas designers led to a 3D-printed concept shoe made out of recycled ocean plastic.
“The new shoe design rethinks the environmental impact of materials to help stop ocean plastic pollution,” according to adidas.
Among others, this collaboration will accelerate the integration of materials made of ocean plastic waste into adidas products as of 2016.
The true impact of a sustainable future for the adidas brand comes from a long-held mindset of product innovation, a strong embrace of innovative partnerships, and today, helping marine life and showing the world how to shed its throwaway mentality.
Adi Dassler would be pleased that the adidas brand is leading the reduction of plastic pollution in the ocean with a genuine partnership while serving the most competitive athletes in the world.
However a compelling story, adidas misses an opportunity to effect greater brand distinction and engagement.
Jim Signorelli, president at Story-Lab U.S. observes, “adidas is making great strides towards becoming a StoryBrand. However, they need to link together the chapters of their story so that a single-minded truth becomes more evident.”
He adds, “Their latest commercial, featuring James Harden, makes a strong and compelling case for the notion that “Creators Never Follow.” However, a story’s theme is proven through its plot. We need to see that adidas is walking its talk. Every brand in the sportswear category innovates. But innovating in ways that support the sustainability of marine life? That’s the kind of stand-out proof that tells the adidas story convincingly.”
Jim Signorelli and I hope our message resonates with adidas. We want to help adidas enter a higher sphere of storybranding and brand advocacy. We think more athletes would engage the adidas/PARLEY solution if they knew what we know.
References: Strategy + Business writers, Nicholas Ind, Oslo School of Management, Oriol Inglesas, associate professor at ESADE, Business School in Barcelona and director of the ESADE Brand Institute, and Majken Schultz, professor at Copenhagen Business School. adidas Partners to Help End Ocean Destruction, Releases Sustainability Progress Report, by Sustainable Brands. adidas and Parley Oceans Partnership Aims end Plastic Pollution Oceans. NYC NEWS.
Note:The adidas brand name in lower case was used correctly throughout the blog.
According to Christopher Lightfoot, the curator of Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Karol Wight, the internationally renowned scholar of Roman Art, curator of ancient and Islamic glass and executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass, and contributions by others, the invention of glassblowing in the late first century B.C. was one of the most significant technological advances in the ancient world.
These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who “signed” the molds.
Two-handed cup signed by Ennion, blown in a four-part mold, 1st half century. A.D. Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36. Photo by The Corning Museum of Glass
What does glass molding and glass blowing have to do with today’s technological innovations, branding and creativity?
What if you could trace your professional lineage to a glass producer who lived twenty centuries ago? Do we 21st century strategists define, design and market premier brands any differently than an innovative master who lived two thousand years ago?
Lightfoot and Wight answer these questions with the grouping of the most innovative and elegant known examples signed by their maker, Ennion, the producer of the finest ancient Roman mold-blown glass. The name, Ennion, is featured prominently in the early literature on ancient glass, and his products were quickly recognizable. His rare, surviving glass mold-blown vessels are unmatched in the history of art, technology, design and branding.
I was extremely pleased to view The Metropolitan Museum’s marvelous exhibition of Ennion’s exceptional accomplishments.
Lightfoot explains that Ennion was quite groundbreaking. Ennion perfected the use of molds for blowing glass and making multiples copies of the glass. His work is remembered not just because he put his name in the molds, which allows us to identify his pieces, but because of the technological invention and the authentic design differentiation from all other Roman mold-blown glass.
Cup. Close-up Signature. Ennion, Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36.
The Corning Museum of Glass
Ennion knew the value of what we 21st century marketers think of as a “brand name”. He was the first glass artist to sign his works, incorporating into his designs a prominent inscription in Greek that reads: “Ennion Made [It].” He did not just sign his pieces, and he made his name a part of the work much as we experience a famous label.
Ennion, the first century glass mold-blown innovator provides a link between the ancient and the modern worlds of technology, art and branding thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Corning Museum of Glass. ENNION: MASTER OF ROMAN GLASS is must-see exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass for modern day business, technology and branding innovators.
Shlomo Moussaieff Collection
ENNION: Master of Roman Glass,
The Corning Museum of Glass
Opens on May 16th and runs through January 4, 2016.
Businesses succeed or fail on the connection between branding, customer engagement and financial performance. Here is the formula that I have been discussing with clients recently:
Follow this guideline by understanding the business thoroughly and prioritizing branding as the key component to your business growth. Branding is the foundation of marketing. Marketing fulfills the mission statement and creates the customer experience. The customer experience creates the brand engagement, thus building brand equity. Brand equity contributes to P&L metrics like profitability and stakeholder value.
During the September 29 opening event, guests are also invited to witness the bronze-pouring process in the Keating Foundry at MANA, see contemporary dancers rehearse, and visit more than 70 artists studios. Free shuttle buses will run to and from MANA CONTEMPORARY throughout the event from Milk Studios, 450 W. 15th St., New York, NY. For more information, please visit artmanafest.com.
ABOUT MANA CONTEMPORARY
MANA CONTEMPORARY is a groundbreaking cultural institution with locations in Jersey City and Chicago. Based on an integrated philosophy, its facilities provide services, spaces, and programming for artists, collectors, curators, performers, students, and the greater community within single locations. For more information about MANA CONTEMPORARY, please visit www.manacontemporary.com.
Leaders are in the business of creating shareholder value whether they manage consumer or manufacturing companies. Brand creators are in the business of creating valuable assets; and marketers are in the business of influencing the customer experience and capturing brand value.
If you are focused on valuing your brand, then you have your sights set on improving your P&L. However, as we speak with manufacturing executives about brand equity, few understand its full power and the profit improvement they could gain.
Various indices have been developed to help B2C companies understand the value of their brand. However, most of the measurements rely on soft (qualitative) data. We believe it is important to use a statistically valid method of quantifying brand value in dollars and cents. B2B companies are now just realizing the power of combining price optimization with branding strategies.
The key advantage includes product and value pricing. Enter author, Jerry Bernstein, President, Value Pricing Group, one of the top-tier pricing experts for manufacturing companies with engineered and technology based products. He has a superb understanding of branding and pioneered the now proven "black box" formula he developed, appropriately named, Brand Contribution Analysis™.
Bernstein's quantitative pricing analytics, combined with branding expertise is so powerful, that improvements in profitability are guaranteed. Here is how we overlaid our experience:
Result = The Brand Contribution Analysis™ and related services are enablers for quantifying the dollars that pricing and brand equity can bring to the P&L. Fortunately, for manufacturing executives, the knowledge and methodologies for brand value and profit improvement are demonstrable and attainable.
Ref: 1Value Pricing includes analytical tools and processes designed to capture the full value of products and services. The result is measurable improvements in revenue and profitability.
At Transition Networks, we believe that branding is the foundation of marketing. Marketing in turn creates the customer experience, and the customer experience creates brand equity. Brand equity contributes to metrics that the executive suite understands, like profitability and shareholder value.
It's a very simple business model that took us several years to evolve and clarify.
NETFLIX is among the leading customer-centric organizations in the world. How does NETFLIX create and benefit from the customer experience?
The NETFLIX brand is the customer experience. NETFLIX fills the need for media anytime, anywhere in whatever display device you choose to watch your favorite shows. It personalizes the experience for 33 million members in 40 countries. Not only is NETFLIX a media preference, the brand name can be a verb, a noun, or a generic reference (like Kleenex). In other words, NETFLIX is synonymous with people's daily lifestyle.
John Mello of PC World writes about ForeSee's customer satisfaction rating, which scores e-tailers on a scale of 0-100. While NETFLIX's rating last year was 81, it is trending upwards. More important, it has crossed over the magic 80 point mark, which ForeSee calls the "Threshold of Excellence." Scoring at 80 or above is an indicator of superior customer satisfaction performance.
What is the value proposition? NETFLIX is adept in tracking and communicating customer preferences and experiences. This becomes a simple connection and engagement with each and every member. The ease and reward flows both ways. NETFLIX becomes an emotional lifestyle commitment by the member, who is likely to recommend a film, concert or TV show to someone else.
By comparison, other media delivery models are currently zooming off the cliff (e.g., NBC). These brands don't understand today's customer experience. Network TV's delivery model is likely to die.
NETFLIX overcame its pricing bobble nearly two years ago and today is the on-demand market leader. However, streaming video challengers are encroaching. According to FierceOnlineVideo.com, NETFLIX is being chased by three competitors: HBO GO, Amazon Prime and Vudu (the new Walmart Partner). Other competitors include Hulu, Xfinity by Comcast and Verizon's Redbox. However, NETFLIX currently has the lead with its superior service and brand recognition.
From NETFLIX'S solid foundation of branding and marketing, its interactive customer experience business model is leading to its competitive advantage and profitable brand equity valued in the C-suite and by shareholders. (Nasdaq: NFLX)
Brand Definitions for Business Leaders was written for a corporate officer of a Fortune 500 company to understand the value of branding as a business asset. Branding is one of the great business disciplines that has direct influence on customer relationships and financial gain.
Brand Definitions for Business Leaders establishes the essential foundation for successful marketing strategies. Here you will learn how to calculate the value of a brand name and apply brand equity to your 2013 financial statements.