To move and be moved
A Traina manifesto.
However Shakespearean that title may sound, there is no question: If a brand wants to move ahead in a constantly changing, wholly unpredictable future, that brand must be ready to move in new ways. It must also move people in new ways—ways that are relevant to their lives, that reach them at their core, and build a genuine bond between the brand and the people it counts on for survival.
That’s coming in pretty hot, I know. But the times call for it. Because the landscape we’re in, and the horizon to which we are headed is like nothing ever known before. And I’m not just talking about buzzworthy notions of Web3 and the metaverse, though we’d all stand to have our tokens ready for that.
The times I mean are the here and now, the good ol’ universe we know and love—the one that is digital-first, where people are constantly connected, and oceans of data can either keep you sailing or pull you under. Where cultural influence can come from any and every direction, even your 7-year-old child. The times that have been upended and forever changed by pandemic, that have seen the ugliness of division, and a groundswell of community activism. Times in which climate and economies and markets can fluctuate between extremes from day to day. This is the reality in which we all exist, people and brands alike, side-by-side, and brands and people must move each other, if either is going to move ahead.
These times bring abundant opportunities for those who are ready to move on them, and present remarkable chances for brands to make an impact: on people, on culture, and of course, on their own business.”
Before this sounds too much like doom-and-gloom, street corner soothsaying, I’ll say this: This is a good thing. The end is not nigh—far from it. These times bring abundant opportunities for those who are ready to move on them, and present remarkable chances for brands to make an impact: on people, on culture, and of course, on their own business.
When a brand becomes a force in these areas—that’s what we mean by a brand that moves. In our 17 years in the business, we’ve noticed a few qualities about such brands, and we’ve made these qualities our North Star, guiding our agency and the work we do:
Brands that move move hearts and minds.
Authenticity was once a brand’s gold standard, but today brands must level up from being simply authentic and be truly inspirational. What does moving people in such a way look like? It could be a brand that remembers who you are, that interacts with you in real-time and speaks to you like a person. A brand that is transparent in what it cares about, and uses values to inform its operations and what it stands for beyond selling units. A brand that tells a compelling story across platforms—visually, textually, digitally—and pushes the boundaries of every context in which it appears.
To move people is to offer an experience that not only goes beyond your competition, but goes beyond all expectation. Experiences of this caliber are the way a brand earns the invitation to be adopted as a part of someone’s life.
Brands that have the tools to be nimble can seize opportunities to steer—or better yet, start—conversations, and show up for their customers and their communities in truly impactful ways.”
Brands that move move with speed and intent.
Economic and cultural landscapes have become inextricably tied to each other, and they both move lightning-quick. In a hyper-connected world, opinions and perceptions can catch and spread like wildfire. But brands that are nimble can seize opportunities to steer—or better yet, start—conversations, and show up for their customers and their communities in truly impactful ways. When a brand is active and aware enough to engage in culture and be a creative, uplifting force for people, everyone benefits—company, customer and community alike. It’s a rising tide that lifts all boats.
This ability to make such moves is enabled by brand strategy. When a brand is rooted in core values, when its vision is clear and it is driven by a distinct positioning strategy, decision-making accelerates. Clarity rules. Taking action becomes easy because you know where you stand, what you are willing to do, and what you might be willing to sacrifice to reach people and make the impact that matters.
Brands that move move the needle
When a brand can move minds and hearts, and move as deftly as culture demands, that brand becomes a company’s powerhouse for growth. It gives freedom for a company to move markets, to soar past goals and come up with new ones to crush. Motion creates momentum, and it all works to move a company forward: the passion of their people, the inspiration of customers, the swiftness of operations and the communities that feel the benefit—it all adds up and makes for radical business growth.
That is, if a brand is intrepid enough to really go for it. Most brands sit back on the sideline and watch other companies making moves, thinking that today’s marketplace is overrun with fads they can stand to ride out, at least until things return to “normal”—that lower bar of what should be expected of a brand.
But that bar will not lower, and that time will never return. High expectations are the norm, and truly, they always have been for us at Traina. We have always believed that a brand must do more and be more, and for 17 years we’ve helped brands do just that. Now we see what’s ahead: how a brand must move people in order to move itself. And again, this is a good thing. Because for all that can be said about the times we’re in, these are the times that call for us all—brands, people, creatives, consumers, communities, CEOs, CMOs, and now DAOs—we must all be fully conscious of our power, and how we can use it to move each other in new ways that move our world forward.
David Traina is the founder and CEO of Traina.