Call to adventure

Just like every new beginning, the new year starts full of good intentions, hopes and longing for a new adventure. Adventure is a challenge, a source of creativity, the feeling that you’re alive. How crucial is adventure in our profession, in building a brand? Are we gradually moving towards the safer, familiar road to mediocrity, or is our brand daring enough to opt for a path of innovation and creativity on the way to becoming iconic.


Pleased to meet you. My name is Adventure. That’s my actual surname (in Dutch). It’s my anchor in life, and my motivation to keep doing things. It’s a voice calling me from deep within, telling me to set out and explore. There have also been times in my life, though, when I had too much on my mind or I couldn’t seem to find control, that my name became a source of insecurity. That’s when I try to escape by burying myself in even more work. Why? Adventure is the polar opposite of security and safety. It confronts you with your fears. It’s no surprise that the word crops up frequently in mythologies and often has a deeper meaning, denoting a quest in Arthurian legend, for example, where knights were sent out to find the Holy Grail. Storytelling researcher Joseph Campbell has studied this phenomenon, identifying a narrative pattern that forms the basis for all sorts of stories and movie scripts: the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey plots the road towards a meaningful destination, with each new journey leading to personal growth and transformation. I always point this out to myself when insecurity strikes: as the hero in my own journey, I have to heed the call for adventure and be brave enough to conquer my fears. In the video ‘Your demon is the dynamic of life’ Campbell explains how it’s become ingrained in our culture that demons are bad, and that it’s better to avoid them than to see them as a door that’s yet to be opened. We have to know the darker sides of life in order to experience the light.



Safety and control over creativity

At the most recent Art Biennale in Venice, it became clear to me that the world is in the grip of fear. A surprising number of the art installations there were based around fear. The message that fear and innovation don’t go well together was central to the ‘Laboratory of Dilemmas’ in the Greek pavilion. I saw a video there, where scientists discussed the problems they experienced in their research. They indicated they’d often encounter unexpected results that called for further research, but that it wouldn’t make any money or would go against protocol. Many of history’s great discoveries, such as penicillin, were the product of exactly this kind of surprise, though. Unfortunately, I’ve found the same to be true in my field. Marketers love security and control. Initiatives that can’t be monetized straight away or that resist control are immediately shot down. The bottom line is all that counts. In some cases, there’s just no patience, which discourages creativity. Recently departed designer Azzedine Alaïa was one of greatest creative geniuses in history. He once said in an interview that he was worried about the amount of creativity lost because brands were choosing speed, figures and control. Good ideas take time, and excellent ideas are rare, but space, freedom and trust can give rise to that single brilliant idea that changes everything. In my experience, good ideas lead to growth, transformation and, sure, plenty of publicity for your brand. The challenge in my field is to convince brands to keep their brands surprising, without fearfully hiding in data-driven excel sheets and occupying the safer path most-travelled.



Security suffocates desire

Security or adventure, what will it be? Psychotherapist Esther Perel believes that the paradox between security and adventure has to be carefully managed, rather than solved. These two opposing needs threaten the continuity of relationships. Security and reliability are key aspects of feeling at home, an important part of long-term relationships. However, though these ingredients might feed love, they suffocate desire. Desire only flares up when you find mystery, adventure and an element of surprise. In the interview ‘The erotics of branding in design and relationships’ with Perel and creative professional Jonathan Ford of the Pearlfisher design agency, it’s made clear that we, brand and relationship builders, have a lot to learn from Perel:

To remain attractive to its core demographic, a brand has to keep three aspects in mind: absence, confidence and innovation. To retain the love of your customers, your brand will have to anticipate boredom by introducing new experiences or surprising features, to keep people wanting more. On the other hand, you should never forget to reward loyalty by proving to your regular customers that they’re always on your mind, showing them how important they are for you. Brand authenticity, or character, is key in this endeavour, as it instils a sense of familiarity and warmth, nestling into the overall experience. Your customers have to feel secure in their journey: full of joy, discovery and playfulness. They have to feel free to wander around, safe in the knowledge that their favourite brands always have their best interests at heart. You don’t always have to be grand and eye-catching: subtle packaging details and personal attention can work a treat.


Unfold360 campaign model allows for adventure with control

In order to offer brand builders adventure and security in the same campaign, we developed the Unfold360 model, which caters to both needs. This campaign method allows for a little breathing room, whilst retaining the ability to control and redirect. In order to keep fanning the flames of desire, it doesn’t just end up at loyalty or ‘brand love’, unlike typical, linear customer journey strategy models. Rather, the Unfold360 model is cyclical, challenging you to embark on new adventures, such as refreshing the product or drawing up an inspirational campaign. Because before you know it, your customer will be seduced by another brand. The Unfold360 campaign model is inspired by the cycle of nature: rest, sowing, growing and harvesting. Besides, the transformative power of storytelling is embedded in the model. You draw lessons from your previous campaigns, and you head into a new cycle armed with new knowledge and experience. Brands based on passion and adventure will start to resonate. The courage to go on an adventure is recognisable and valuable: it makes your brand powerful, authentic, unique, iconic and wildly attractive.


To arrive at the right destination, though, you need the right resources and the right people to help you on the way. The model will help you map exactly what you need. Download the <white paper> here for a practical step-by-step plan to help you roll out a campaign and integrate owned, paid, earned and shared media. Along with ample ideas to make the most of influencer marketing.