“The synergy of knowledge.”
Those four words, scrawled across the chalkboard on the first day of my grade nine science class, formed the basis for four years of science instruction and—come to think of it—an enduring worldview that values curiosity and tangential thinking as the basis for creativity.
It’s stuck with me.
The concept, described by a delightfully eccentric and highly energetic science teacher (who went by the name Skippy), was simple: in his class, we would discuss and explore a variety of topics. Some would be relevant to the curriculum and final exams; others would not. And that was OK, because everything that we would discuss in class—be it molecular structure or professional wrestling—would ultimately have synergistic value in our sum accumulation of knowledge through the semester.
In other words, the interaction of seemingly unrelated facts, ideas and debates would ultimately combine to produce a total effect greater than the sum of its individual parts. And this sum of many parts—this synergy—offered tremendous intrinsic educational value.
At the time, I hypothesized that the concept of “the synergy of knowledge” was manufactured to give license to professorial tangents and off-topic distraction.
But it was more than that.
It was about cultivating a discipline of curiosity. About embracing the tangents and exploring new ways of thinking. And, in so doing, opening oneself to think differently about problems and cross-pollinate ideas.
As a communicator, marketer, storyteller and problem-solver, I take great pleasure in applying the synergy of knowledge to my life. By cultivating a variety of interests, I find I’m able to bring different perspectives to client challenges, place myself in someone else’s shoes or simply collect information to file away, knowing that it may come in handy at some point.
Whether 3D printing, backyard curling, urban beekeeping, tabletop gaming or Harry Potter trivia (to name a few), my (sometimes weird) interests combine with synergistic effect. They spark new ways of looking at the world. They unearth novel audience insights. They foster new connection points with people around me. And they are among the things that I explore and consequently talk about with the greatest passion.
The best stories come from a place of passion and synergy.
It’s no different for brands.
Most organizations have deep subject matter expertise, and no shortage of passion. This tends to be bundled within institutional synergies of knowledge. And these are the makings of brand stories that people want to read. These are the things that organizations know and do that others will find fascinating. How did that innovation come to be? What feat of industrial engineering is behind that object that we take for granted? What’s the quirky tidbit about your company that I’m going to toss out at my next dinner party?
And similarly, how can a brand connect its knowledge to the things in which its audience is most interested? When you unlock the most compelling bits of information and subject matter expertise and pair it with what you know your audience will find the most captivating, branded content sings. That’s where it works the best and travels the farthest.
We help brands unlock their synergistic knowledge and convey their passion to their audiences. We help them find the ways that information can become the connective tissue that helps drive affinity and begets loyalty. Those stories are everywhere; it just takes a little bit of creativity and passion to tease them out.
In practical terms…
I grew interested in the maker movement a few years ago, when I started exploring how to turn retro household objects into Bluetooth phone docks. The more I absorbed, the more passionate I became.
Months later, our team was devising a strategic platform for our client, Absolut Vodka that connected with new generations of creators and contemporary artists. Given Absolut’s heritage of partnering with artists like Andy Warhol in the 1980s and ‘90s, building connections with this new generation of creators and artists—makers—fit perfectly with Absolut’s direction. And so Absolut Makerfest was born.
What started as a pet interest—completely disassociated from client work—blossomed into a multifaceted campaign that included drink-dispensing robots, Twitter-powered lighting installations and tech-infused art. At the crux was the brand’s passion for creative expression, matched with the passion of the maker community, capped off with Absolut’s own synergistic worldview.
The result? Great stories, like an exploration of how Absolut Vodka is made, an introduction to Cocktail Chemistry and many other stories about the world of mixology, cocktail culture and even bar-bots.
As it turns out, Skippy was on to something.