When it came to 2013, these three trends dominated the business landscape: visual communications, business creativity, and thought leadership. While there were certainly other trends (like anthropology marketing, team building, and startup culture), it’s the ones we talk about here that are most critical to your ongoing resolution to be a bigger and better entrepreneur in the New Year.
As predicted, Pinterest and Instagram toppled social forums as the go-to place for visual marketing. Just about every company now has a Pinterest account – a medium initially thought to be reserved for the female market. Then there’s Instagram, which was at one time also thought reserved for the youth (and mostly female) demographic. It’s now’s approached by any company looking to establish itself in a youth market with branded story-boarded visual content.
There are a few theories tossed around on why this is the case. Why are visuals gaining momentum, and why has it entered the business realm? While some people say it’s a simple case of A.D.D., where text has dwindled to 120 characters and 120 characters has capsulated into a single image, in reality the truth is far simpler. People think in terms of images. Think about it – when you have a thought, is it formed in a serious of words or is it a series or images? Fact is, we think in images and images as a form of communication speaks to us because it mirrors our thought process. It’s actually an incredibly effective, efficient, and accurate way to communicate by allowing quick data transmission with little room for misinterpretation.
There’s also been an emphasis in photography and video communication methods. In fact, we had an entire (and very successful) about photography this year which included articles like: “Top Trends in Photography Marketing”; “Tools You Need to Master Marketing Photography”; and “Photography Marketing: A Case Study of Three Industries”. In the end, it all comes down to creative visual communications – the cornerstone of the futurist business leader.
Creativity has definitely been an over-exploited buzz word in 2013. There are been no end to the manifestos on how to be creative. Yet, during all the hustle and bustle to be creative, no one stopped to think about just how uncreative it is to try and be creative. Doesn’t creativity also get negated the minute we’re following instruction on creativity? I think so. Digging into why creativity has been a buzz word, my thoughts have been that it’s a delayed reaction to a hamster-wheel business life most of us have willingly thrown ourselves into in one epic gesture of sacrifice to showcase our dedication to our career. Or maybe it’s the business equivalent to social culture that’s presently thriving on DIY. As I previously said on this, “if you’re an employer looking to sponge creativity (and subsequent results/profits) out of your employees – I’ve got news for you. The wheel starts spinning with you.” Employers who work to improve their company and work culture stand to benefit from collaborative creativity. And I think there’s a lot of room for change considering that at present only a shameful 25% of people think they’re living up to their creative potential.
Business creativity also flows into thought leadership. There’s a thin line of demarcation between creativity and thought leadership. Spearheading thought innovation has been around for a couple years, but in the last year this idea really hit home with the everyday entrepreneur. In a nutshell, we were all encouraged to be creative out-of-the-box thinkers marching to the beat of our own drum. But you don’t have to be a drummer boy. Your gesture could be as small as stepping out from behind a brick wall and presenting your authentic self to your audience. We’ve seen entrepreneurs do this most successfully with Instagram.
Being a thought leader also means embracing your role as a “Brave New Thinker” – a term coined by an article earlier last year in The Atlantic, and the pun (of course) borrowed from the book Brave New World. It’s an idea that can carry you into the New Year, since a brave new thinker is someone who thinks differently and isn’t afraid to chase that vision – even if that vision is to be simply the best at what you do.