January 18, 2018 / Insight

The Soft Power Opportunity

The Soft Power Opportunity

Recently we proposed the question as to how brands can use wonder to create meaningful brand strategies. Wonder enables us to acknowledge opportunities to improve a situation and dream up new ideas. Fundamentally, the pursuit of change lies at the heart of this thinking.

 

Engendering change can be effectuated through the utilisation of soft power. By definition, soft power is capacity to co-opt and persuade without force or coercion.

At the end of last year, Monocle magazine explored ‘Softly Does It’ in their December issue. Whilst the publication set out to demonstrate how nations use soft power currency through culture and art to foster connection, we pondered what this means for brands and retailers.

Political activism is strong in sentiment amongst consumer landscapes, most notably Generation Z. We have witnessed this activism manifest in industries such as beauty and fashion. For instance, we blogged about how the Craftivist Collective took to fashion stores neighbouring LFW’s headquarters Somerset House in September to promote change through handcrafted notes of protest. The notes set out to educate consumers about the implications of their consumption habits.

In short, this is a form of soft power breeds gentle activism. As explored in culture connects, art is a powerful tool to nurture emotive engagement with consumers. Resonating with this idea, The Art of Change is a yearlong exhibit that will run at Barbican. Using cinema, theatre, music and visual art, the museum promotes #ArtofChange as a vehicle to navigate the uncertainty of the times. The yearlong will examines how art can change perceptions and inspire people to share a more positive future.

Whilst change is being explored in Museums, it is also prominent on the streets. In London, Notes To Strangers has been prolific on Instagram. Artist Andy Leek leaves notes across London for strangers to find. Characterised by bright coloured paper and inspirational messaging in black marker pen, passersby who have been touched by the notes have widely shared their sentimentality on Instagram.

Over in New York, Product Designer Adam Kiyoshi Fujita’s work has been abounding New York streets. Dissatisfied by geopolitical tensions, his street art inspires soft power messaging surrounding humanity, empathy, faith, big ideas, joy and hope.

Fundamentally, 2018 will see the rise of soft powers, using art and gentle forms of persuasion to nurture meaningful storytelling.

Key Takeaways

Consider how soft power can inspire brand engagement and filter within your retail experience.

Borrow from the world of art to build positive and meaningful conversations from consumers.

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