Are we less inquisitive? Are we more indifferent? And most importantly, are we possibly responsible for creating an atmosphere and environment that is less curious?
Have we even noticed? And if so, should we even be concerned?
Not sure that I have the answers, but I do think they are questions worth exploring and considering. Especially in an age when we find ourselves more and more connected and disconnected, simultaneously. A time when everything we determine to know, understand and learn may only lay a finger tap away.
A time when the walls and obstacles to learning, as well as our access to a never-ending stream of information have been wiped away.
It is in these reflective moments, that we not only become much more aware of others, but of ourselves. It is in these small moments that we determine what we are passionate about, open towards and interested in, as well as what we’ve become numb and disengaged from and towards.
And it is in these times of deep awareness that we begin to realize that sometimes this ease of access, or even too much access, can make us less thirsty, less passionate.
When the search is no longer necessary, we have a tendency to stop digging.
It is in this reflective stance in an early morning drive to work that the idea of branding caught my attention. Just happened to be a car that I have never seen before with a logo that was also unknown and unfamiliar that caught my interest. Knocking me out of my mental checklist for the day ahead stupor. It made me want to find out what kind of car it was.
And it was that short reflection, that short moment in time, that made me consider and wonder if we have branded our world so entirely, that it has numbed and dulled down that spark, that curiosity level that resides within each one of us. The more that we look around, the more we notice that we have branded the world around us so much with logos, stickers, signs and emblems that it takes little or no effort to know where something comes from, who manufactures it or where to get it from.
Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, and on, and on. Our lives have become inundated with messages.
From the side of a bus, the top of a taxi, the billboards hovering above the roads we travel, the commercials on the shows we watch, the magazines and newspapers we read, the internet we surf, as well as the stores where we shop and visit, we live an existence under a constant barrage of unintended guidance and influence aimed at influencing us, both conscious and subconsciously.
Always there, always pushing, poking and prodding at us.
And yet, under this ongoing onslaught of influence and information, I find it strangely interesting that I no longer have or need to be as curious, or even be interested. It just comes to me. It is just there.
So we have to ask ourselves: Have we over-branded ourselves and the world around us?
If we need to look something up, we go to Google. If we like a car, we just check the tag on the trunk, if we like a shirt or a pair of pants, there is a logo or emblem pasted on them somewhere, and most often noticeably.
So I often find myself being a bit less curious, less interested, less willing to strike up a conversation.
We don’t notice how branded we are as a society, until we see a logo or emblem that we have never run across before. Just like that unfamiliar car that caught my attention on the way in to work. It is there that your attention is caught, you curiosity antenna goes up, and you even find yourself trying to drive up alongside just to find out where and who manufactures it.
Unfortunately, branding is a two-sided coin…
We want people to know who we are and what we are about, but we don’t want to be so ingratiated into the system that we just become washed out, noise in the background. No longer noticed for being unique, special or different. Just another name, on another billboard.
In a world where branding has become incredibly important in every arena, you have to be careful not to brand away what makes you special, what makes you stand out, what makes people want to inquire within and be interested in you, and what you and your organization have to offer.
As they say, you always want to leave people wanting more about what you have to offer, what you are doing, what you are all about. When you over-brand, you lose that sense of mystery that creates curiosity and interest that draw people in and want them to engage and learn more.
It’s not bad that we have more information, except when it causes us to ask fewer and fewer questions and be less and less interested and curious.
We live in a time when we should be looking to “stamp in’ rather than stamp out curiosity. Stamping in makes people want to know more. So we have to ask ourselves, especially in these days of excessiveness: How are you making your stamp?
Have you found your flow, as an individual, as a leader, as an institution and as an organization? Is it too much, not enough or is it just right?
As leaders, we not only have to control the kind of message or branding that we are putting out, we must be able to control the amount. Leaders have to work at understanding the difference between not enough, too much or just enough to make us interested, curious and willing to engage — to engage our creative juices, to make us want to know more, to ask more questions, and to be excited about what you do or what you have to offer and share.
Never forget, inquiring minds DO want to know.
Make people curious.