Google Zeitgeist 13 provides a much needed relief from the hurried, urgent and short-term lives that many of us lead. As well as inspiring with wild visions of the future, the real benefit of this gathering of young and old wisdom to remind us what all this is for, and to give us time to ‘Rethink. Reset’.
As usual, Google gathered the great and good of politics, technology, the arts, military, media, charity, academia, business, and of course Google, to educate, enlighten and entertain.
As a brand man, I wondered how any of the above luminaries could usefully instruct our craft of brand building? Quite considerably, as it happens.
For starters, all the invited speakers I caught were successful ‘brands’ in their own right – elevated above their peers through a combination of being in the right place at the right time (luck), strength of conviction (belief), infectious charisma (personality), persistence (hard work) and a fresh, relevant perspective on the world around us (differentiation).
My favourite example of all the above was Leymah Gbowee, Liberian activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who confessed to living her life by diving in, never walking on tip-toes.
They were also, unsurprisingly, great communicators. Each had a different and interesting story to tell, they had insights that were fresh and challenging, and they made the audience feel things they weren’t feeling before. This included conductor Charles Hazlewood who, against seemingly insurmountable odds, succeeded in getting 300+ weary executives enjoying themselves singing together in 3-part harmony.
Most concluded that success in most things is to be judged over the long term, so much that it leaves a legacy. General Sir Michael Jackson shared some of the challenges of long-term strategy building (eg 25 years in his case), and in so doing relegated most of our ‘strategies’ to the short-term box.
And we were also reminded that if we don’t think there is a relationship between money and happiness, we’re clearly not spending our money right. We should be spending it on other people!
And lest we forgot, Jessie J reminded us in person in song after dinner.
So the shared metaphors with the world of branding are obvious - courage, conviction, communication, long-term, and being good to those you value.
Congratulations to Google for providing the space to think…about brands.