“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine
People are a product of their environments, and brands are no different. Which is why it’s so important to change up those environments once in a while. With that said, as the inevitable post-holiday blues kick in and we look ahead to the new year and decade before us, setting intentions and resolving to do x, y, z personally and professionally, consider making travel a priority. Here are five reasons why:
1. Inspiration: Feeling stuck and uninspired? The quickest way to change that is to take yourself somewhere new. From food, architecture, fashion and art, to beautiful landscapes, cultures, and people, traveling has a way of renewing and reinvigorating the senses while providing the perfect opportunity to recalibrate and re-energize.
You never know when a hotel’s aesthetic might introduce you to your new favorite colorway.
2. Knowledge: While it’s no secret that digital marketing is at an all-time high, that doesn’t mean old school is out or that clever and new approaches that reach customers away from a phone or computer screen aren’t emerging. From creative, thought-provoking subway signs in NYC to digital street ads in Madrid to bathroom stalls with QR codes in Japan, the way to reach customers is ever-evolving and varies based on location.
When you travel, you get a front row look into how others are doing it, and how you could do it better. Additionally, you have an opportunity to see how you can alter brand voice to meet the situation to make it feel timely and relevant to a given population. Not to mention, it helps you spot trends nationally and/or globally. The bag you see in the market in Bali may be the must-have item in the US next year. Music and fashion that’s hip in California may not reach the Midwest for six more months. Traveling can sometimes allow you to get ahead of the trends and capitalize on them.
Coca Cola’s message to attendees of the United Nations climate change conference COP25: don’t buy their product unless you plan on recycling. This also subtly highlights their own recycling initiatives.
3. Perspective: When you travel, whether it’s to a new neighborhood, city, state, or country, you’re opening yourself up to different perspectives. This is vital for anyone with a product or service that’s attempting to appeal to a demographic that spans beyond the people within the walls of their organization. Focus groups are great, but they are nothing in comparison to getting out and meeting the people who are currently using your product or could be potential target demographics in the future. The more you travel, the more insight you gain into what’s important to people, what resonates and what doesn’t, what’s needed and what isn’t. Consumers identify most with brands they feel understand and speak to them. The best way to do this is to get to know them.
4. Self-Awareness: When you take yourself out of your comfort zone, a whole world opens up. Travel helps you know who you are. What moves you. Motivates you. Inspires you. Teaches you. It shows you parts of yourself you’d never see if you hadn’t left home. It can be humbling, eye-opening, mesmerizing, and sometimes life-changing.
The more self aware a person, or a brand is, the more it can distinguish who it is, and who it isn’t, both to itself and its consumers. Authenticity is key.
5. Resourcefulness: Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard once said “It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.” While traveling or embarking on something new or foreign, chances are something won’t go according to plan. It’s in that opportunity where you can truly test your resourcefulness, grit, and problem-solving capabilities to right the ship and adjust course. How can you pivot and improvise on the go? These kinds of challenges not only help grow and shape a person, but also provides one with the confidence and tools necessary to meet future problems head on when they arise, whether personally or professionally.
Ultimately, the most successful brands out there are intimately familiar with not just who they are, infusing that into every aspect of their branding and marketing, but also who their customers are and what they value. They have continued to evolve as markets and consumer behavior shift and have integrated themselves into the everyday lives of their customers. How have they done this? My guess is they’ve read more than the first page.
Has traveled inspired your brand? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Share your stories with us at [email protected].