About a century ago, the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen designed the most beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. He’s been dead for more than seventy years, but his creations are still rock solid. As is his philosophy, which is as simple as it is effective: “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context — a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan. ”
Build something beautiful
Let’s apply Saarinen’s philosophy to a product introduction. A new proposition for – nice and current – a vegan food line. What you do first in such an introduction depends on your ambitions. Are they purely financial-economic? Then you probably first choose a distribution channel in which your product comes into its own. After all, a broad distribution means a greater chance of sales and therefore more turnover and profit.
Today, however, more and more brands are taking an ethical starting point. Because focusing on mere turnover is no longer of this time.
You really want to reach people, touch them, build something beautiful together that will last longer than the next fashion trend. In that case, you choose like-minded people with whom you want to play a lasting role in their lives.
Start thinking from the broader perspective and then zoom in. Start, for example, with society, with how we treat each other, politically, economically, the public space of all I care. Think about what you would like to mean within that playing field, what you want to do, what role you want to play, and whether it suits you, like a glove, so to speak. Consider with which parties and stakeholders this can best be achieved. And what all this means for your proposition.
Then you look at your more specific target group(s). How do they live, and what are you doing there? Ask yourself which forms of society and views you fit into. Think about when, and in what form, you will eventually land with your vegan food line. No doubt Saarinen had gone a few steps further. He had formed a picture of where the food line is made, which means of transport you use, what your HR policy is, who your stakeholders are… and so on. Then you are not there yet because there is an even broader context: that of how you live and deal with the earth. All of this affects your proposition.
Of course, contextual thinking is not new in the marketing profession. Many researchers are doing very deservingly on this. But Saarinen goes a few steps further. He reasoned that you have another state of mind creates when you first zoom out, and only then look at yourself and what you have to offer. Marketers have a more limited view in this area than designers and architects. When designing, they often already think of the eternal value. Sometimes they create cultural beacons that we as tourists can enjoy for decades or even centuries.
Now suppose you are with that mindset develop your product or service, so with some sort of eternal value in mind. Do you think something completely different will come out?
Let Saarinen’s vision therefore be an invitation for strategic marketers to think bigger.