Gen Y’s new working plan: Branding & Compromise

Gen Y’s new working plan: Branding & Compromise

We generally think of brands within the context of our everyday lives; what we should wear, what car we should drive, where we should eat. It’s that endless permeation that ultimately makes up our identity. Two neighbors may wake up and drive to the same office complex, but many of us would be very surprised if the Patagonia-wearing, Prius-driving lover of Chopped shared the same occupation as the Dickies wearing, GMC driving fan of Outback Steakhouse. The correlation between who we are, and what brands we are is inevitable, as is their influence on us. Despite being a young male who enjoys wearing backwards hats, I had never watched the show Entourage http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387199/ in full. Figuring that it’s probably a good idea to have at least 10 obscure Vinny Chase/Ari Gold references in my back pocket at all times (I ultimately want to do something in entertainment), I have recently taken to watching the series from the pilot episode. Technically, I’m catching up on a cultural phenomenon; one which has often been described as a worry-free outtake on how young people perceived narratives of success pre-crash, and one whose positive reception was arguably responsible for the development of its now-defunct East Coast cousin, How To Make It In America http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1299365/. It’s interesting comparing these two shows for a number of reasons. Both were on HBO, both were developed by the same producer core (Marky Mark!), and both seemingly appealed to the same set of cocky-yet-somehow-justified male demographic trying to balance the fast-paced action movie/romantic comedy that is young people trying to be somebody in the world. While I’m of...

Brands: act like a good person and you’ll be viewed as a good corporate citizen

At Onesixtyfourth, we’ve been talking a lot about the ability for brands to forge new attitudes regarding social responsibility. That a true leadership brand will tend to transcend the preconceived notions surrounding their industry, despite the surrounding narratives – many of which are often extreme generalizations, but have for some reason been cemented into the psyche of society at large. For example, oil companies pollute, banks are greedy, and clothing companies sometimes take unfair advantage of cheap labor. While these statements are of course tremendously opinionated and sometimes unfounded, it is not always easy to shake these labels. In order to do so, brands will oftentimes directly attack the source in order to change their image – they will target in on the source of criticism, and launch a campaign to counteract that criticism by excelling in exactly what they were criticized for not doing in the first place. (Think BP’s massive green washing campaign following the 2010 oil spill, or Dominos “mea culpa” strategy.) Both of these crusades essentially said, “Ok fine. We really messed up, so were going to do everything to clean up our mess. We won’t sleep if we have to.” While it’s always wise to clean up a mess, the fact remains that these brands become best known for these specific actions. And, the means of turning these initiatives into lasting, positive brand equity remains less clear. Sure BP cleaned up, but was the intention genuine? Did they truly realize the error of their ways, or did they clean up simply because there was no other option? Was cleaning up the only means of...

Dynamic Culture: who has time to make music just for the sake of making noise?

“What truly has value is what’s differentiated. And sadly these days, just having a college degree doesn’t exactly differentiate you.” The quote above, extracted from our CultureQ study, offers an interesting take on achievement. Achievement defined by the “get good grades so you can go to a great college so you can get the job of your dreams” narrative that has often dominated contemporary ideas success. While there certainly are many positive results from living in a society that values merit-based, track-oriented accomplishments, it’s safe to say sunny days are not always the norm. Much of our research with Millennials has demonstrated that, even despite the current economic climate, Gen Y has an optimistic outlook on its long-term future, especially older Gen Yers. That, when all the dust clears, they will have accomplished what they set out to conquer. In other words, we think we can do anything. We have the idea that our individual merits, or lack-thereof, are worthy enough to carry us through whatever obstacles come our way. Many Gen Xers, Boomers and even those from the post WWI generation interpret this as an unfounded sense of entitlement, or sometimes even narcissism. I believe, however, that it may actually be something else that defines this; something much deeper, more nefarious, and pretty darn eye-opening. We think we can accomplish our goals in the long term, but with the current economic crisis, we’ve seen a lot of our siblings, friends, classmates, etc. fall quite short of their grand life schemas. In other words, by and large, we are a generation unfulfilled. And, with a psychological preponderance towards an...

Dynamic culture: We’re all hipsters

We are all a series of contradictions. We claim we all have these really unique and distinct identities, yet we all wear jeans that are likely within a few shades of each other. We claim we are contributing members of society—productive, and eager to learn—yet we spend countless class periods and library sessions scrolling through Facebook albums. We say don’t like to fit in into the norm, but the vast majority of us are afraid to venture too far outside it. One morning last week, I came across an article from a college that listed the top 10 most “hipster” campuses in the country. It just so happened that my school, Georgetown University, rounded out the list at number ten. Initially, I was a little confused. How could a school that was recently accused of being part of the 1% also be one of the nation’s most bohemian? How can a school where the majority of students come from private or boarding schools, a school whose business students earn the second highest starting salaries in the nation, be considered anti-establishment? The article said that this year it seems like more students are adding “hipster” to their resumes, especially at Georgetown. Resumes? Isn’t that just about as anti-hipster as you could get? But then, it all made sense. Well, not really, because that would mean that the world’s problems were solved and we could all go home and call it a day. What I meant to say, was that it kind of made sense to me. When I first stumbled upon the article, I was wearing a flat brimmed trucker...

Dynamic Culture: Music And Generation Y – Our Long(ish), Strange, Trip

In 1998, I bought my first and last CD. I had received a gift card to Borders for my birthday, and, as an eight year old who thought he was too cool to read a book, I ventured into the store’s now defunct music section. I remember being oddly intimidated by the whole experience. The endless catalog of artists, the increasingly strange album covers, the people milling around with weird goatees, tattoos, earrings. The girl at the checkout counter, even now I could recall the pungent smell of cigarettes. I remember her scoffing at my choice, clearly at the age where she thought her music was better than my music. I was eight years old, but it was clear that her music was still much better than mine, and that everyone should know about it. “$10 for one song?” She didn’t actually say that. But if she did say that, she wouldn’t’ve been totally wrong. I had purchased Tubthumper by Chumbawamba, solely for what I had dubbed the “I get knocked down song.” The CD probably stayed in my walkman (remember those?) for over a year, and quite honestly, I could not tell you the name of any other title on that album. So if you really think about it, I had spent $10 on one song A year later, and I was faced with pretty much the same predicament. This time though, I didn’t but a CD at Borders. Instead, I listened to my one hit wonder of choice Blue, by Eiffel 65, on my computer. Via Napster. For free. I listened to many a song on Napster. And...
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