free markets, free culture

Collage, and the art of marketing strategy

with 2 comments

illus. by Cristiana Coucerio


Collage: arranging disparate scraps into a meaningful whole.

In the hands of an artist, collage can be an artful blend of figure, type, annotation.

In the hands of Bernd Schmitt, collage can be a strategic business tool.

Schmitt — professor at Columbia’s B-School, director of its Center on Global Brand Leadership and, consequentially, Matt’s boss’s boss — sees collage as a tool that helps managers “encourage unusual connections in the brain.”

Combining the (seemingly) incompatible

Here’s an exercise Schmitt likes: rip up magazines and create a visual board of brands and business trends. Now, pair the two randomly.

Say you have a Coca-cola ad, and an article on the green movement. How would you design a campaign strategy around this combination? What are the challenges and advantages to the brand’s positioning?

“It is key to pair concepts that seem incompatible because they stretch people’s imagination and facilitate the formation of unusual connections.”

To read Schmitt’s full explanation of the collage exercise, search for the term in his book Big Think Strategy (2007).


Written by @hellopanelo

March 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Nice, Sharon. I’m looking forward to my first chance to see Schmitt put this into action (he isn’t teaching this semester).

    Prof. William Duggan, also of the B-School, has a book called Strategic Intuition which is also based on insight coming from the combination of seemingly disconnected ideas. Hutch Carpenter posted a good summary of Duggan’s ideas.

    Matthew Quint

    March 24, 2009 at 11:45 pm

  2. Thanks Matt, i seem to be on a roll with this whole “connecting seemingly disconnected ideas” so this Duggan book is a great rec. Even better is someone else’s cliff notes on the book 🙂 digestible bite-sized media! p.s. this Defrag Conf is interesting.. relevant to CAP??


    March 28, 2009 at 8:06 pm

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