Thursday, August 21, 2014

The fraudulant storyteller

There is a thought provoking interview with Stefan Sagmeister, where he challenges the pop reference to storytelling and the self-label of storyteller. Coming from a guy who’s built a life around insanely flawless visual design, he definitely brings a level of authority to the subject. I agree with Mr. Sagmeister on two fronts: 1) the phrase has been pirated by industries and brands where ‘storytelling’ is a stretch 2) I am one of the people who is guilty of self-labeling as a storyteller. I know it has become a buzzword, but for me it feels like a positive sign to see the creative within brands and ad agencies attempt to focus the simplicity of what they do. The distraction of content, the temptation to lead with technology or tactics, and the realization that it is the stories that people tell themselves that create change, motivate purchases, and guide choices.

In the world of technology, I think the idea of storytelling should be embraced. Screw the fact it may be overused or not reflect ‘true storytellers’. The opportunity to have an insanely complex industry of people take a step back and make the connection between why the technology exists in the first place and the people that it helps should be welcome by everyone. It can be the difference between doing a job and honing a craft.

A few years ago our company decided to celebrate it’s birthday by sending out an invitation to our clients. The digital invite led them to a webpage where we had cued up an augmented reality experience. People sat in front of their webcam and were invited to make a wish by blowing out the candle on our digital birthday cupcake. As each person would blow at their computer screen, the digital candle would blow out. A wink that bridged the digital space and physical space in a single moment.

If I asked you the how this worked, you would likely concentrate on the use of technology that could have been used to make this happen. But a simple idea like this, or the successful implementation of any technology is not the result of a focus on that technology – it’s the result of focusing on the story that you want your audience to tell themselves.  It is this strategy that makes room for imagination for an experience evolve from an action to a memorable moment.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Man Servants

I’m seriously digging the idea of a Concierge MVP – where humans fill the gap in a digital experience. The quick example is the idea that driverless cars are not far off on the horizon, but Uber and Lyft provides the Concierge MVP in the interim; building user habits for automated and tailored transportation.

Two weeks ago I saw another take on this idea with a service that is getting all it's attention for it’s outrageously link-bated content strategy: “Man servant service is not a joke. And it’s nota gigolo service”

The point of ManServant is to provide women with a tailored and customized gent who can show up when needed. I know the point is the 'tailored man' part, but essentially it is an automated assistant service for a spectrum of tasks. At first glance it’s easy to mistaken the fact that it is packaged in this man-servant story that it has very little to do with building a behavior around man-servants or personal assistance of any kind. It does  however create an initial MVP to a set services that women (and consumers in general) don’t currently consider to be automated. As with many use cases, it fits a grey area where other entrepreneurs have not dared to go, or not considered to be viable business models. 
The best part about the idea of Concierge MVP’s for true connected experiences is that they are more about building behavior and understanding new habits, rather then implementing new technology. The idea behind Man Servant is pretty simple, the execution complex, but the way its consumers will utilize the service is likely a bit further away from the obvious hopes of the companies founder. Give someone a killer platform that they didn't know they needed, and they will quickly take the lead in its development path.