The Next Made in the USA

One of the defining legacies of the Industrial Revolution is the idea that more is good and less is bad; that bigger is stronger, and better, and that smaller is weaker and inferior and something to be grown out of as quickly as possible. Big houses, big stores, big stars, and big brands, all receive automatic legitimacy and respect simply because of their unrivaled and unbeatable scope and scale.

The industrial internet is now turning the notion that bigger is better on it’s head. Thanks to the technological wonders of the era of engagement, the individual entrepreneur, the latest viral video sensation or the fledgling emerging market nation are all on a level playing field with the superpowers. Size is not a leading edge or an enduring benefit any longer. In fact, in our sharing economy, size is a liability.  Smaller, more agile micro-brands able to co-create artistic, custom product and build communities around their brand points of view are flourishing. It is these bespoke, artistically driven micro-brands that are the model of success for the future, when the mantra won’t be too big to fail, but too big to succeed.

Creative Destruction: Why Failure is the New Success

Nothing changes until it has to. This is true of people, of companies, of cultures, governments, and even of Mother Nature herself. If the Colorado River had never gotten stuck between a rock and a hard place on it’s way to the Sea of Cortez, it would never have sculpted the Grand Canyon. If Steve Jobs hadn’t dropped out of college and gotten fired from his own company, we might never have experienced another great wonder of the world, the i-Phone. We are currently in the midst of a period of disruption and creative destruction.

The old tenets, institutions and systems have failed. We as a culture and an economy are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and just like the Colorado River, the only possibility for success is to innovate a new course through the mountains. As we move toward a society ruled not by the few but by the many-the ability to sit back and rest on one’s laurels as an established brand authority will cease to exist as a viable alternative. As we shift from consumers to artists, and from a manufacturing to a sharing economy, success will demand that everyone strive for the insurgency of a challenger, even if they are the established incumbent. The future favors those who are not only able to survive periods of disruption, but consciously seek it out in order to remain creative, innovative, and competitive.

The Rise of Microbrands and Why Bigger ISN’T Better Anymore

One of the defining legacies of the Industrial Revolution is the idea that more is good and less is bad; that bigger is stronger, and better, and that smaller is weaker and inferior and something to be grown out of as quickly as possible. Big houses, big stores, big stars, and big brands, all receive automatic legitimacy and respect simply because of their unrivaled and unbeatable scope and scale.

The industrial internet is now turning the notion that bigger is better on it’s head. Thanks to the technological wonders of the era of engagement, the individual entrepreneur, the latest viral video sensation or the fledgling emerging market nation are all on a level playing field with the superpowers. Size is not a leading edge or an enduring benefit any longer. In fact, in our sharing economy, size is a liability.  Smaller, more agile micro-brands able to co-create artistic, custom product and build communities around their brand points of view are flourishing. It is these bespoke, artistically driven micro-brands that are the model of success for the future, when the mantra won’t be too big to fail, but too big to succeed.

Monochromatic Portrait of Andy Warhol

The Warhol Economy

Andy Warhol’s famous prediction that in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes has come home in spades in our viral, reality TV driven era of engagement and now, has gone even a step further. Just as Andy foreshadowed when he said that good business is the best art, business is indeed not just business anymore, but has fused with culture and become the latest artistic movement. The world of today is driven by participatory events of mass individualism that engage us on an emotional and collective level, allowing us to express ourselves philosophically, creatively and artistically, and join together with others who share our passions and positions.

This emphasis on self expression and public exhibition, which is in fact, the opposite of cocooning, has created a Warhol economy where not only can everyone be famous for fifteen minutes, everyone can be an artist and create their own artistic community, based around brand.

Brands and the experiences they create have become art, and products have become canvases of expression. In the Warhol economy, we are no longer selling soda; we are selling an emotional experience, a vehicle for self-expression, and an opportunity to engage with others who can appreciate what we have created. The message and intent of the Warhol factory model finally has finally been realized. Art and business have merged, and will lead to a more artistic and creatively connected marketplace and a more democratized and globalized culture shaped by the many, and not just by the mighty few.