The Blog of Babel

This site sits on the crossroads of Languages, Linguistics, Social Media Market Engagement, Marketing Strategy, Innovation Strategy, Creativity Theory, Ancient Mythology & Egyptology. Its a very small crossroads in the middle of cyberspace - so stay for a while - pull up a chair and coffee. 

Travel Abroad - Take A Creative Risk

There is one social theory that argues we only shape our own identities when they become challenged or threatened. This means that we understand who we are by looking outwards and realizing who we are not. 

The best example of this is travel. Did you know that in Asia it is normal to drink out of a bag when you're on the go? To them it is completely normal. For the average westerner this method obviously evokes quizzical looks.  

The point is that we take plastic cups as the norm and the only logical way to drink something on the go. However creativity tells us otherwise, there are always multiple ways to go about doing things - never assume you have the best answer. 

Travel helps us figure out those assumptions that we take for granted and opens our eyes to new experiences, effectively heightening our creative ability. We learn more about ourselves when we see that others are different from us in ways we couldn't imagine.

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
— Proust

Take A Creative Risk

Seeing that travel is the great eye-opener, it makes sense that so many travelers plan creative projects to document or encapsulate their voyages. I would argue that such travel projects are at risk of being extremely creative and dangerously fun. Next time you go on a trip besides planning your flight and housing try planning a creative project - photos, painting, drawings, audio, video - however you wish to capture it. You may find the experience very refreshing and a great source of inspiration even after it's completion.

#ProjectGlob(o)

In a couple days I will be leaving on a trip to Amsterdam, Fribourg, Munich and Madrid and I have decided to plan #projectglob(o). For now, my creative project is going to be a surprise to all of you guys - you will have to wait till I publish it in the coming weeks! Stay tuned!

PART II - The Results

I enjoyed my travels so much - so many countries - so many languages. As with most things, my project made some changes along the way - but I am happy with the results. Every time I come back from traveling I am both a little depressed and also more self-assured. I definitely learned about myself and enjoyed spending times in other cultures and languages. Anyways - here are the results of my travel project. I hope that you will consider trying a creative project on your next trip abroad! Safe travels!

Career Branding - The 5x5 Method (Slideshare Slides)

Raise your hand if you have ever browsed monster.com and indeed.com using the shot-gun method - Copy. Paste. Submit - Copy. Paste. Submit. I just applied to 10 jobs! 

Well congratulations Butch Cassidy, how has that been working for you? Don't get me wrong, I am guilty of the same crazy, desperate, late-night methods and still expected overly ambitious results. In marketing we refer to this as a push strategy - "I am going to blast content (read: job applications) out into the world in the hopes of hitting interested customers". This however can be a waste of time and in the long run won't sustain a healthy career.

Wouldn't it be great if employers approached you instead?

This is what we call a pull strategy, which takes more time and investment. So Happy 2014, Resolution #1 - invest energy into your own personal brand. Approaching your career like a business, this post will help you brand and market yourself concisely and effectively. Follow the steps!

Virology Series - Economics of Digital Content

Welcome to the second installment of my virology series - studying how digital content goes viral. In this post we are going to look at the economics of online media. 

Supply & Demand 2.0

Economics is simply the study of human behavior given a limited amount of inputs.  We know that on the internet there is almost an unlimited amount of possibilities. With unlimited supply we also know that price enters a free fall and hovers right around $0.00. Therefore we find that most content on the internet is free and demand for individual content is low. 

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However these two concepts can be brought together into the study of digital economics - the supply and demand of digital content. It is possible to harness the behavioral concepts of economics to create artificial scenarios of supply and demand. 

By creating artificial scarcity, demand will rise - leading to more viral characteristics.  

Examples of Scarcity

Sites like Groupon and woot.com are great examples of this phenomena. These sites offer daily deals in a limited quantity. The scarcity exists in amount and time, as the deal ends at a certain time and can sell out. This creates limited supply and more demand, as users have more of an impetus to check their websites and check deals. Simple rules of economics apply. 

Possible Social Media Implications 

How would you react if the internet phenomenon Gangnam Style was limited to 5 million views? This means that after the video reaches this number it would no longer be available on youtube.  How would this effect viewing behavior?

What if we could develop "decaying links"? These links could be put on Twitter or Facebook by social entities in social media promotion campaigns and would shut down after a certain amount of clicks. Now just imagine how that might effect viewership behavior. What if Apple released daily a brief 5 second clip of their upcoming products on a 2 click decaying link? Although the media itself will not be able to go viral, the message and awareness will go viral. 

The law of supply and demand also explains Snapchat - a mobile app that allows you to send very short video clips to friends. However there is a twist, individually sent videos can only be seen once and they then disappear - they cannot be replayed. The app's recent popularity can be explained by their extremely small supply. Videos are viewed once and deleted. By doing this demand rises and so does perceived value. 

How else can supply and demand be used to create viral content? Stay tuned.

 

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Chipotle, ‘Cultivate Campaign’ - makes us feel warm and fuzzy.

Chipotle's Brand Evolution

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The Chipotle Cultivate campaign is a very good example of rebranding. Their brand story really shows the life of a developing brand.

Chipotle traditionally was heavily associated with the aluminum brick burrito (see picture). Now, we all associate the silver bullet with Chipotle goodness. Chipotle's advertising however has evolved greatly over its growth to stardom. Initially the company associated itself with burritos then healthy, locally sourced ingredients and now sustainability and "cultivation" from the source. It has shifted the dialogue to a higher level, and embraced an altruistic brand message that is loftier and transcends the burrito. At the end of the day, it allows them to connect with their customers more deeply and really create positive impact. 

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Chipotle Cultivate Campaign

This clever campaign had four main components - all listed above.  

  1. Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. This foundation's main purpose is to address and support family farms and sustainable practices in the farming industry. This allowed all marketing initiatives to have a charity component and legitimize their claims on sustainability. They demonstrated their commitments and also provided tons of great content to use in multi-media campaigns. Here is their website
  2. Loyalty Program.  Utilizing an old marketing tool, Chipotle put a new twist to an old idea. Instead of encouraging customers to eat more burritos - Chipotle's loyalty program (Farm Team) makes people learn about sustainable farming practices and family farming to be awarded points. It spreads knowledge and awareness and further demonstrates their commitment to the cause. As the program reminded its customers, "What your food eats, you eat"
  3. Cultivate Food Festival. What did this festival celebrate - what else, healthy, locally grown food. Ingredients matter. With bands, craft brewers, artisans, chefs, local farmers, musicians and healthy crowds - these festivals were a great success. They helped cultivate a community around their new brand message. Cultivating healthy food. 
  4. Short Film.  Obviously such an amazing campaign cannot go without its central viral element - a film short (below) called "Back to the Start". This short was aired during the Grammys for the first time and garnered much positive attention and 10,000+ tweets. Currently with 7.4 million views, this viral piece did great work to call attention to Chipotle's efforts. 

Sweet and Smokey Success

Why did Chipotle's efforts pay off so handsomely for the brand? 

  • One Word. This entire campaign stems from one word - Cultivate. A single word can be powerful if chosen correctly and if used as the driving thought behind all marketing pushes it can help connect efforts across platforms, create cohesion, deliver a stronger resounding message. This perfectly chosen single word campaign performed miracles to galvanize Chiptole's new brand message and story.   
  •  The Fuzzy Warm Feeling. Bringing a marketing campaign back to altruistic roots can really help legitimize any campaign and touch people's emotions - allowing for greater message reach. This completely made transparent Chipotle's methods and message and humanized their brand as they adopted such a community oriented goal to their central mission. Lessons learned - sincerity counts.
  • Narrative. This campaign had a strong narrative that was clear and precise. In addition, more stories could be drawn from local communities during their festival and in their foundation's efforts to really spread the message in a large way from a local level. 

The Babel Project

Backstory: The Tower of Babel

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So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
— Genesis 11:8-9

Everyone knows that Babel is synonymous with the global confusion of languages and words. God spread us around the word and made sure we could not communicate, apparently. 

The same is true for the word Babble,  which is directly related to the word barbarians (because uncivilized barbarians babble incomprehensible gibberish). This concept for linguistic white noise translates perfectly to the current state in communication nomenclature. With communication on the planet evolving at light speed, our own vernacular is struggling to keep pace. Many industries that focus on communication bleed into each other - marketing, PR, branding, social media, engagement etc. Is there a better term out there redefine the modern communication profession?

Enter The Babel Project.

 

The Babel Project

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So the Great Marketer scattered the professionals from there over all the communication spectrum, and they stopped building a common profession. That is why they called it Babel because there the Great Marketer confused the language of communication resulting in naming chaos. From there the Great Marketer scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
— Book of Marketing 11:8-9

Is there a better word to describe the modern communication profession?

Using the term marketing as a catch-all phrase (although a flawed one) to describe all types of communication professions, we are still faced with a sea of new professions all utilizing similar skill-sets. Can we unite under one common banner?

The Babel Project attempts a synthesis of all these terms and challenges the applicability of the word "marketing" to the modern age of communication. Now can we find a better term? Please help us!

Join The Babel Project Now!!