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The Dream Cafe: Lessons in the Art of Radical Innovation by Duncan D. Bruce, Dr Geoff Crook

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ZZEITGEIST

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The Oxford English Dictionary defines Zeitgeist as ‘The defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.’ But what makes a zeitgeist brand? We at The Dream Café believe that defining the zeitgeist should be the paramount ambition of every brand. The process involves careful balancing of consumer motivations and needs with creative strategies that enable a brand to understand and define what everyone knew they needed – but could not quite articulate.

In order to achieve zeitgeist status, companies must create a narrative – a story enables the customer to perceive your brand as the answer to their need to reconcile the paradox of their desire for security and adventure. You can achieve this by building in touch points that allow the customer to trust the brand's reliability while at the same time revelling in its ability to signify and unlock the future. The narrative must make customers feel both safe and edgy by building in balance to the brand promise. For example, coherence between the promise and mythology of the brand and its functionality is crucial. And while that need may be obvious, too many brands fail to achieve that balance – because they are obsessed by rational benefits.

The brands that define the Zeitgeist in 2014 are an eclectic mix of products and services. We've already discussed some – tech brands ...

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