BY Katie Meier
I have been talking about the importance of participating in culture for brands. Participating means being a part of cultural evolution. For example, last week I introduced the idea of seizing opportunities to open new channels for ideas to emerge as a way to participate. The point of these introductions is to play with the notion of participation and let yourself crash around in the ideas to see what it feels like in the role of participant, rather than the role of brand sponsor.
This week I want to play with the idea of getting around people who vibrate. But first — what the hell is a person who vibrates? It’s a person who spurs conversations outside their field, because the conversations aren’t about the work itself. The conversations are about archetypes of human existence.
Second: what the hell is an archetype again? It’s a pattern that is universally present — for instance, separation, initiation, union, creation, and so on. The artist JR or the essayist Andrew Solomon is a good illustration of someone who vibrates on this archetypal level.
The work of JR is street art. But it vibrates into conversations about politics, geography and the tension between oppression and the value of life. The work of Andrew Solomon is writing primarily. But it vibrates into conversations about depression, identity, education, equality, and the tension between acceptance and societal rejection.
For a brand, getting around a person who vibrates can mean tapping into an archetypal current that is both current as in contemporary, and current as in currency because archetypal conversations are about things to which people can immediately relate. Relating can lead to engagement, and engagement can lead to both increased cultural currency for a brand, and increased revenues from a successful campaign.
Yet media people rarely run in the circles of people who vibrate. This is not willful. It’s because the need to achieve client outcomes is the priority. How to turn a vibration from somebody like JR directly into a client outcome is tricky. What’s the ROI on something like covering a favela with art? Maybe brand lift? Sentiment increase? The point I’m hoping you’re seeing here is that converting a vibration into an outcome isn’t the point.
The point of getting around people who vibrate is to be oriented; vibrations are instincts that can be listened to in order to hear your own instincts speak. The thing is, simply being around people who vibrate can activate your senses for what’s next. Continuing to listen to this sense over time will help you know how to pivot toward the cultural current you want to participate in. That produces better thinking because you’re making decisions tapped into the world at the archetypal level, not the brand sponsor level.
See if you can’t imagine yourself starting there, just listening to some of these people that vibrate. What are they talking about that your brand wants to, or could talk about too? Cultural evolution requires being around people who vibrate, not to produce outcomes, but produce better thinking in you.0