Brand Book Bites from Non-Obvious

Here’s my latest Brand Book Bite, a write-up on and interview with the author of a book I recommend for brand-builders:

– the book:  Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future — an excellent guide to trends — full of insights, tips, tools, and trends themselvesNon-Obvious_289pxNon_Obvious_Cover_uizc2r (1)Non_Obvious_Cover_uizc2r

– the brain:  Rohit Bhargava, a trend curator who’s probably best known for his book, Likenomics, and the annual report of Non-Obvious Trends he has published for several yearsNon-Obvious_3D_500px_st7vru

– the best bits:  In Non-Obvious, Rohit pulls the curtain back on his process of identifying, curating, and applying trends.  It’s starts with a helpful definition of what he considers to be a trend:  “A great trend is a unique curated observation about the accelerating present.”

The book is divided into three parts:   the methodology for identifying and curating trends; the 15 non-obvious trends for 2015; and instructions on how to apply trends.

In the methodology section, Rohit describes the five core habits that help develop trend-curation abilities.  The first is BEING CURIOUS – “always wanting to know why and always seeking to learn more about the world and improve your knowledge by investigating and asking questions.”

“Curiosity is a prerequisite to discovery.”

“Part of being curious is wanting to consume different things all the time to earn greater knowledge of the world, even if that knowledge doesn’t seem immediately useful.”

“Being curious means asking questions about why things work the way they do, and embracing unfamiliar situations or topics with a sense of wonder.”

Of the 15 non-obvious trends, the ones that I found most fascinating were:

  • The Reluctant Marketer“As marketing becomes broader than just promotion, leaders and organizations abandon traditional silos, embrace content marketing and invest in the customer experience… If the past of marketing was about spending money in order to try and build value and (sometimes) sell a product or service, the future is about nurturing an entire experience that connects with consumers so deeply they can’t help but talk about it…The marketer of the future is not constrained by marketing, and increasingly takes on that marketing-centric title with reluctance.”
  • Selfie Confidence  — “The growing ability to share a carefully created online persona allows more people to use social content such as selfies as a way to build their own self confidence.”  Listen to Rohit talk more about this trend in our interview — see below.

The application chapters of the book start with the great reminder, “Trends only have value if you can learn to apply them.”   Rohit then explains three principles for thinking about how to apply trends:

  1. See the similarities instead of the differences
  2. Purposely look away from your goal.
  3. Wander into the unfamiliar

– the brand story:   Non-Obvious contains short examples of how brands express, advance, or leverage trends.  In the section describing the trend Reverse Retail — which Rohit describes as “brands increasingly invest in high-touch in-store experiences as a way to build brand affinity and educate customers, while seamlessly integrating with online channels to complete actual purchases and fulfill orders” — he describes how Bonobos, the e-commerce fashion brand, ended up opening brick-and-mortar locations.

After being in business for awhile exclusively as an online retailer, Andy Dunn, the company founder, decided to build fitting rooms in the lobby of his company’s headquarters to allow customers to try products on.  Soon he was selling more than $1MM from the lobby and realized the importance of having a physical presence to augment his online business.  By the end of 2014, Bonobos had 10 stores and plans to open 30 more.   People flock to the locations to try on product, but the most orders still come through the site.  Rohit observes:

“It is the perfect example of a Reverse Retail experience:  one that was designed to create affinity and inspire a purchase that could be completed online and fulfilled later…For years when retailers talked about the promise of creating multi-channel experiences for customers, it basically meant having an online site as a way to avoid losing sales to [e-commerce] competitors…In 2015 and beyond, the connection between physical retail experiences and online buying is starting to reverse itself.  The real life experiences are tailored to deepen brand engagement…The purchase itself, and how it gets fulfilled, is increasingly moving to the online environment where the “endless shelf” allows retailers to provide exactly what consumers want.”

– the bottom line:  Non-Obvious provides a fresh perspective on fresh trends — what they are, why they’re important, and how to identify and use them

Listen to my conversation with Rohit to learn:rohit bhargava

  • why being fickle is helpful when identifying trends
  • what is intersection thinking and why is it so uncommon
  • how a good trends describes a behavior or mindset, not a tool, technology, or platform

other brand book bites:

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