by: Scott Goodson
Ok, Ok "I've heard it before" you say. And its true. Only last time on this bat channel, I was dithering on about this global soul thing. But nowadays, I'm thinking it's got a massive amount of relevance. 'Global soul' isn't any longer mere hippy talk--some kind of Ben&Jerry's rhetoric coming from the mouth of their 'Chief Euphoria Officer'. In the light of global warming, socially progressive mores are making more and more sense for both human survival and corporate profit.
We can also count on consumers getting smarter. (Hallelujah for that. We have to stay fresh and inspired!) It's now almost impossible to sell a product via a simple 30-second TV spot--everybody's burned out on those. Similarly, brands can no longer put on the clothes of 'greenness' without putting their money--and actions--where their mouths are. Corporations, increasingly popularly perceived as part the problem and not the solution, will have to REALLY become the solution if they want to survive.
The idea that big business--not governments or other larger bodies--can be the greatest harbingers of change has been floating around for a while. One can just look at the success of such brands as Ben&Jerry's, Timberland and Kiels who have had a social agenda ingrained into their corporate structure from their inception. And since people are increasingly initiating change in their personal lives, brands have the opportunity to take it to a wider next level and come to reflect a universal value system of such likeminded people from Tucson to Tokyo, from New York to New Delhi, from Scranton to Stockholm. It's about culture and bringing people together irrespective of the country they come from. Offering the group the warmth and comfort of a campfire.
But it's not just brands that can provide connective tissue to the masses. Some products have become metaphors for positive change--mmmm Cherry Garcia. Certainly without quality products, a brand will never survive. Swiss Army Knives or its modern version the iPod are ultimate global unifiers. Everyone finds them cool. And freaking handy. They are designs that function and democratize. They were instant design classics because they transcend the concept of product and became art--a universal one. Zippos can build bridges. One hundred dollar laptops can indeed help save the world.
Business is about service: serving the consumer and serving the planet (our place of business). And the smarter, the most multifunctional--bless the Swiss army knife, honor the iPod--will survive.