I really enjoyed Debra Kaye’s new book about entrepreneurship and innovation, Red Thread Thinking. Kaye is what I would call a marketing expert, but nowadays the trendier more correct term for marketing is “brand strategy”. She’s an expert on consumer product trends, and she’s consulted for Apple, Colgate, McDonalds, American Express, you name it–she is a tapped in thought leader.
I was intrigued to find a marketing expert (sorry, branding expert) writing a book about innovation, but after reading Kaye’s book it makes perfect sense. For Kaye, successful branding and marketing depends on identifying the hidden links between observations, experiences, facts, and feelings–and when we do that, we uncover fresh and surprising new insights. She’s right: the psychological research likewise shows that the most original and surprising ideas come from making hidden and distant connections. The first epigraph in her book is Steve Jobs saying “Creativity is connecting things” (I quote the same epigraph in my new book, Zig Zag!)
Kaye’s book tells you how to identify and understand these hidden “cultural codes and shifts in consumer perception” with the goal of “catapulting fresh products to iconic status.” Every Chief Marketing Officer wants that! So how do we do it? Kaye identifies five “red threads”
1. Become better at observing and interpreting what’s around us
2. Take a fresh look at the past
3. Know what makes your market tick
4. Learn how to create a new “language” to make your product stand out, and yet also be universally understood
5. Persevere, review, and refine your ideas but without compromising integrity or core beliefs
I liked this book, because I am a psychologist studying creativity, and this brings a completely different perspective to the same phenomenon: How to engage in behaviors and habits that lead to consistent and deliberate creativity.