Last year was the first year I actually kept a New Year's Resolution: to learn more about wine. Good one, right? No detox necessary.
This makes me think about the concept of goal setting in general. How do we balance creating goals that are both far reaching and incredibly attainable, so that we feel satisfaction at every achievement? How do we treat resolution as a reflection, rather than just a forecast?
The holidays always end up being a mad rush for brands.
You prep for your big sales, your 'last day for UPS shipping' emails, and get all of your mailers out. You plan and execute all the way up until the 24th and then.... you get a breather. Well, expect for the fact that Q1 is in a week and the whole year is about to start over again. The wheel isn't ever going to stop and give you time to get better, you're just going to have to find it.
This issue marks the start of Volume 4 of the Shape Shift Report - our 4th Influence Issue. How time flies, right?
Three years later we're still talking about influence and influencers in marketing. There's still more to be explored. In this issue we share insight on the brands built from influence, the need for transparency in the industry, as well as a look at Matte Black's newest content product built from the micro-influencer: Candid.
One of the big struggles of our time is whether or not to embrace the future.
Yet the only option is for us to lean in. As much as some may resist, it appears we have no choice but to allow for the gravitational pull towards progress and the future to march on. Kudos to Matte Black for bringing up this discussion, and I hope this issue helps you step forward to that place.
Sometimes I think of culture as more of a feeling than a thing.
Sure, it's defined by the generations (we see you, Gen Z), the trends and the pop culture... but it also encompasses the pure sense of "yeah, I get it. Something's happening here." And that's something you just feel. It's more than just a Champion sweatshirt on the homepage of UrbanOutfitters.com (brb, off to buy one, though.)
Impact has the best double meaning.
We can talk on one side about marketing or data impact on revenue, or on the other about what it means to be a give back brand.
Really though, these two things aren't mutually exclusive. Any give back has to market smart, and every brand has to have purpose. In this issue we cover a myriad of things, but most notably the intersection of these ideas. Really, what it means to evolve your story and keep moving forward so your impact can continue. Wether or not what you do is rooted in giving something back.
As addicted as I am to technology, I constantly crave disconnection.
This issue is about just that - the analog lifestyle. We're highlighting people who create real things with their hands. We're sharing stories of offline experiences and products that are thriving in our technology-driven society. The people who are shaping trends in travel and culture-consumption.
Do you consider yourself an early or late adopter to the advances of technology?
There are many things I can't imagine going without now that we have the technology at our fingertips (on-demand rides, groceries, bottles of rosé) and things I just can't seem to stomach (self-driving cars, drone deliveries)... yet. In tech, it always feels like you're dancing in the waters of 'what's next,' hardly getting to appreciate what you have before the next user update happens.
You and your brand both suffer from the paradox of choice.
Who do you want to be in a world where you can be anyone? Being able to clearly define your identity is branding 101, but in the digital age it isn't that simple. Online you can reach anyone: so how do you define your customer? With a wealth of creators available you can shoot images in any style: so how do you define your brand visually? Then once you define this you go after influencers who are going to twist your brand a different way.... you get the point.
The meaning of Victory has changed for me, and maybe you too.
It's more personal. Rather than competing with others, we tend to compete with ourselves. When it comes to business, brands, marketing, what have you, we want to be the best we can be, but that doesn't mean wishing failure on others. (In fact, we recorded a podcast about that!)
In this issue, Molly Hayward, Founder of Cora, and Joey Hodges, Founder of Demonstrate PR, share how they define success and moments in their careers where they felt victorious. We also built a list of the founders of brands that have won us over - true victors.
It is official. No social digital platform will stop introducing new features.
Translation - they won't stop making it harder for you to come up with enough content. We write this only a few days after Instagram has announced albums, now allowing us to post as many as twelve photos and videos because just one great image wasn't hard enough. With that said, we give you our most tactical Content Issue to date. Some how-to's, some explanations of our approaches, some inspiration to drive you forward.
There are a ton of people in the world, it's overwhelming.
For brands and marketers, it's a good thing. Because you know you have an audience. The hard part is finding who they are and how to communicate with them, something we teach you with the articles in this issue.
There is something that comes with resolution that evokes both light and dark.
Light in the vision for something new, something better. Dark in the loom state that you might not get where you want to go. That it may not turn out like you want it to. But white picket fences are ever evolving.
The creative process has been beaten to death.
Not the concept itself, more just that the collective internet puts out a hundred articles a day on the topic. Trust us, we are fully aware of this. Being that this is our third Creative Process issue, we decided to take a step away from the esoteric "here is how I stay creative" and dive head first into the tactical.
Influencer marketing has changed in it's short span of being an effective strategy for getting products in front of consumers.
There's a surplus of so-called "influencers" available at brands' disposal, and with no science or formula to measure a successful influencer marketing project, it really is an undefined arena for brands and influencers alike. We explore these topics and more in this issue.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is: what's next?
In this issue, we talk about something I'm quite fascinated with: the shape of travel. The spur of adventure and wanderlust that a digital-rich culture is thriving for. We also explore how the internet has turned the world on it's head, and forced brands to crack the code of the agnostic consumer.
Culture isn't static or limited.
Culture isn't a few specific categories but rather is constantly formed as a concept by anything that is able to steal people's attention for just a moment. Culture isn't static or limited. It changes every time our attention is stolen to something new.
In the marketing world, we tend to measure impact with numbers.
This issue covers a few different topics that all fall under the 'impact' umbrella, most of which we don't even realize apply to each of us on a daily basis. We talk about the impact of other people's success on our own, the effect of social networks, and of course, social good and the role we play as consumers.
In the world of today, analog can mean so many things.
It can mean the romance you once associated with digital-free world. It can mean the fulfillment you get when you sit down with a hot cup of coffee and a printed magazine, thumbing through the pages. Or it can just mean a reflective moment where you let your thumb chill from all the phone scrolls, and take in some of what's around you, IRL.
Data-science is bigger than ever.
Whether you think the future of tech is bright, or are worried about a Tom Cruise Minority Report situation, dive in and see what our contributors think the implications of technology will be on your brand.
Identity is complicated.
This issue features a myriad of insight on both personal identity and brand identity, written by experts in culture- marketing, branding, and storytelling. Identity is elusive; and we want to help you find it. Because as hard to define as this topic might seem, it directly correlates to the success of your brand, offline and online.
Ultimately, victory isn’t one thing.
Whether this is about the victory of winning the lottery (I mean, did anyone ever claim that $63M lotto ticket?!), recruiting the most instrumental hire within your company (lord knows, that’s a hard task) or the victory of pulling something off something that throws a little ripple in culture, these wins can be varied, big and small, and change with the tides.
Content is king.
The Content Issue will be the nearest to our hear. In any profession you take content in all day online, on social platforms, through streaming, and numerous other sources. When you take this constant feed and decide to make it your job as well; the exposure grows to a whole new level.
How the successful brands are connecting with their audiences.
One of the biggest factors that contribute to the success of any brand or business is knowing your audience. Who is buying into your brand? Are you talking to her in a way she will understand? Are you keeping up with his life changes? Does she even use the social network that you pay big money to have look good?
A third ingredient: the outside influence.
So with no silver bullet or winning formula readily available, I urge you to still trust your inner process, but listen to those in similar positions to your own. Take advice. Try it out for yourself. Tweak it. Implement it.
Influence. Or, influencer.
Influencer marketing is quite possibly the most *authentic* form of advertising that has only been made possible by the ease and shareability of what is technology. Social media, if I’m being more specific. So how can brands leverage these individuals? Does it make sense for every brand? Does it pay off? We cover all of these topics and more within The Influence Issue.
We’re about to get all ‘The Jetsons’ on you.
Not really, but it’s a topic we can’t resist delving into: the future. The big unknown. I’m always asked about my opinion as to the future of social media and digital consumer behaviors, and it’s a hard one to answer. I wouldn’t say I’m as much of a forecaster, as I am a nerd for insights and behaviors, but I can certainly make some assumptions
Buzzword alert. Authentic / Curated / Deep Dive / Shareable.
I’m guilty of using at least one of these daily, but none of them can measure up to the Merriam-Webster 2014 word of the year: Culture.
We realized "impact" can mean so much more.
It's about the impact a strategic brand story can have on the success of your campaigns (and sales). It's about the impact direct-to-consumer companies have had on the retail industry. It's about the shifts and changes that have eternally changed the way we think, act, do and buy.
In an era of digital, where does analog fit in?
We're constantly preaching that offline drives online. Because it does.
In this issue, we speak to the doers, shakers and makers who still execute analog practices in their business - whether an illustrator or an event producer. Additionally, we crafted our very own digital detox developed specifically for successful creative brainstorming.
Technology. Where would we be without it?
By the time you get through this issue, technology will have advanced in one way or another. Apple will have received close to 30,000 orders for its Apple Watch, 100 million people will have used Snapchat, and the app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood will have made an estimated $700,000 in in-app purchases.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to you. Tech is the wave of the future, and we are just riding it.
Identity is both universal and utterly subjective.
Every brand and individual has one and yet for each of them, it's a completely unique combination of who and what they are and why. The Identity Issue delves into the exploration of personal identity through social media, keeping in mental intuitiveness as an entrepreneur who struggles for personal time and reflection, and even how to take your digital brand identity into offline environments.
To us, victory is about winning the culture war.
But victory can mean so many different things to different people. How do we measure our successes as they change quarter over quarter, year over year? What exactly does 'winning' look like in the digital age of constant wins? Are we successfully quantifying the results of our achievements?
The Victory Issue digs into this, and much more.
You've heard it a million times over: Content is king.
But how do you make content work for you? How do you create something that people want to see / read / consume? How did this whole world of branded content really take off? Let's face it. Content is a line item in companies budgets (heck, in your budget), and it's up to you to be on the cusp.
We all want an audience. But just how do we capture it?
What do Millennials actually want to see and here? How does one capture the audience they're looking to get in front of? We tackle all this and more in our most recent issue of the Shape Shift Report.
The Resolution Issue isn't as cliche as it sounds. Swear.
We all aim to start a new year with a fresh outlook, a new set of goals, and a clear focus on how to tackle creative problem solving. Some of the most creative and strategic people in the business dish up just that.
The Create Process Issue digs into the who, what, why, when and where of an individuals creative process.
We talk to creatives cross industry, from a lawyer to an editor. No creative process is the same.
A discussion on the power of influence and it's impact on brands.
This issue delves into the insights and trends around the much buzzed and coined term: Influence. With over 40 pages of stories, insights and tips, we know you'll enjoy digging into this issue.