A number of unrelated things struck me today, so I thought I'd write about each of them.
First, some brilliant design work by Pepsi. As you know, I'm a big fan of the way Pepsi is innovating packaging for shelf impact, news and excitement. Pepsi has shattered the paradigm this year, electing to think more about the vernacular of their target audience than maintaining a static, slavish perspective on their narrowly defined "equities". The 35 distinct package designs for Trademark Pepsi add news to the brand and break up the shelf, so rather than being a sea of blue wallpaper, the linear shelf space Pepsi owns is now a dynamic destination in-store. The brand is tying the limited time designs through to cups in foodservice as well, and launching separate microsites for each design. I'm eager to learn about the results.
Now, Pepsico has launched the Green Label Art project for Mountain Dew, marrying the introduction of the first aluminum bottle in the U.S. CSD category with gorgeous, breathtaking, visually arresting designs by an eclectic group of non-traditional designers, including skateboarders, tattoo artists, vinyl toy developers, etc. These designers know their audience and Mountain Dew is leveraging their edgy appeal to create breakthrough, on-brand creative. It's brilliant and beautiful.
Another tidbit that caught my eye (actually, it was sent to me by the fabulous Amy Brachman, Innovation Manager at Alcoa), is an article in Businessweek talking about the development of an energy-conducting film that could someday be used as wallpaper to power your room. Imagine, the end of wall sockets. The end of wires. It fits my favorite definition of innovation - it's both surprising and inevitable!
Finally, I was fortunate to attend IIT's Strategy Conference today and hear one of my strategy and design heroes, Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management speak. He's fantastic and inspirational. He spoke about the "fundamental tension" between reliability (aka business thinking) and validity (design thinking). If reliability is about making sure you get the same result over and over again without deviation, validity is about getting the right result, even if it introduces excess complexity and variability. Reliability is built on precendent - marrying up with the past. Validity is built on projection - designing for the future. (An example - think about how many times you've used metrics that don't necessarily reflect the reality of your business, but they are things you could measure. It's a reliable scorecard, but does it mean anything?) His speech was thought provoking and included suggestions for how we can learn to meet in the middle, empathizing with the other point of view and finding the balance point between the two tensions.
These are three unrelated ideas, but really, I think they all point to the same thing. We've got to learn to shatter the constraints of tradition, experiment with the needs of the future, and wade into the unknown. That's where all the fun stuff happens!
The Dozen is an eclectic take on innovation, branding, media, strategy and research, brought to you by the creative minds at Egg Strategy.
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