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Why I am bullish about our economy

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The spirit of our people who thrive in adversity. Neighborhoods that work together to make the impossible possible. Small businesses that reinvent themselves to seek new opportunities. Students on a quest for new and better ways to build the future. Teachers who inspire and open the minds of everyone willing to learn.
These intangibles are tangibles. They represent the fabric of a new generation that is open, connected and collaborative in real time. They are no longer waiting for jobs, they are trying to create their own jobs and own their destinies.
The digital economy has created a true community. An open environment where all is possible for those willing to put their time and passion into learning, creating, sharing and influencing. A society without gates, with free access to information, tools and networks to unleash our shared passion to invent our jobs and own our destiny.
The more we take control of our destiny, the more resilient we become as people, as a…

How is digital changing the rules of branding?

What has NOT changed? The principle. Brands are still built on a single-minded promise that needs to be relevant, credible and unique.
What has changed? The environment. Brands now live in a digital landscape that is open, connected, and works in real time.
A different environment requires different rules. Below are three ways the digital environment is changing the rule of branding:
1. Creating open brands
In the digital world, there is no gap between the say and the do. If a brand doesn’t deliver on its promise, it is going to be called out. People are more likely to talk about negative experiences than positive ones. Digital provides the perfect platform to create and distribute content across an inter-connected network. A transparent environment not only puts more checks and balances on brands, but it also requires brands to be open and honest with their customers.
Think about an open kitchen restaurant where customers have a full view of how their dishes get made. A good exampl…

Will people reject native advertising?

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People don’t read or watch advertising. They engage with content they like which might happen to be advertising.Advertisers, publishers and journalists have yet to come to terms with “native” advertising, which is content produced or sponsored by advertisers in magazines, newspapers... For example, you can check out this article sponsored by Geico in Buzzfeed.You can also watch Andrew Sullivan and Ben Smith live debate on native ads at social media week 2013. 
On one hand, some journalists and publishers argue that native advertising is bad. It is misleading and violates the consumer trust. People visit publishers’ sites such as The New York Times and Washington Post for unbiased information, not to be sold.
On the other hand, advertisers and some publishers argue that native advertising has been around forever in some shape or form.As long as the content is properly labeled, it is fine. Plus, it helps pay the bills. Publishers have been struggling just to keep above wa…

Does your brand support gay marriage?

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Our society is currently entrenched in a civil war over gay marriage.The Supreme Court is hearing a case that challenges the constitutionality of the 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act.The law narrowly defines marriage as a union between a man and woman. Nine states and the District of Columbia previously allowed gay marriage through state supreme court rulings, until voters effectively reversed the courts’ decisions.
The Supreme Court, which mirrors our polarized society, seems to be equally split on the issue. Not only are people taking sides, but a few big brands have also jumped in to defend gay rights. I wonder if we'll start to see more brands taking a driving role as activists in our society.
For the most part, brands have avoided getting dragged into these sensitive issues. This is not surprising, as the adoption of any position can cost millions in revenue if it antagonizes a portion of the brand’s customer base.
This neutral position, however, might no…

The Trust Economy

In the digital space, trust is everything. It is an economy based on connections, where social capital matters. Brands with more inbound links from credible sources tend to have more visibility and social capital. And the more earned trust through “credible links”, the more growth.
This market dynamic not only keeps digital brands honest, it also pushes brands to build relationship in a more gradual and sustainable manner. Digital brands are born with the promise that they are not perfect and need customers’ feedback to shape their development. This is why they are in constant beta.
We are currently going through a start-up tech boom. These start-ups tend to have a meaningful mission that solves a problem for the community better than existing alternatives. Nothing more, nothing less. Often, the primary goal is not to make money. If we look at the most of the successful digital brands (e.g., Facebook, Groupon, YouTube…), they are still wrestling to make a profit. And the ones that …