NEWS

"  Circle Culture
June 21 – 02

CULTURE DRIVES EVOLUTION

Scientific evidence for our company philosophy

The idea that both culture and leveraging collective intelligence play a pivotal role in human advancement has been infusing, right from the beginning, not just our company culture, but also our approach to consulting global players at the forefront of the lifestyle and biotech industries. This idea materializes especially in our research tools that help us scan emerging cultural phenomena and dynamics before they even hit the mainstream, but also in our global thinkers network in which we have been pooling the smartest minds of our time, thereby purposely building creative swarm intelligence. We at Circle Culture Consulting are deeply convinced that these two ingredients constitute the central driving forces for building modern brands that wish to truly resonate within their communities. It was hence with great delight that we came across a recent scientific study claiming that mankind is evolving faster than ever before. The reason for survival advantage and accelerated human progress would yet not be mainly ascribed to genetics anymore - as scientists have long maintained - but rather to both mechanisms of shared, circulated culture and processes of collective intelligence. The study’s authors argue that this „cultural evolution“ might affect humanity’s pathway more substantially than natural selection. We somehow feel validated by the study’s findings since it puts into an explicit scientific framing what we have been intuitively living and successfully applying in our consulting activities since almost two decades now. At Circle Culture Consulting, the motivation could not be any greater to further contribute to the advancement of mankind by celebrating cultural knowledge and collective intelligence in everything we do. Source: https://www.sciencealert.com/human-culture-might-be-making-genetic-evolution-obsolete-says-new-study
"  Circle Culture  Circle Culture
May 21 – 01

EVIDENCE BEATS CLAIMS

DÔEN’s take on environmental responsibility with integrity

Against the background of the Sustainable Development Goals set up in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly, and after the latest decision by the Federal Constitutional Court having criticized that even the sustainability policies of Germany, commonly referred to as one of the exemplary countries when it comes to both climate protection and climate action, would not set ambitious enough goals, one could assume that the concept of sustainability would be largely uncontested nowadays. Yet, there are some fashion labels today that meticulously avoid using the term ‘sustainable’ – a practice that might rather come as a surprise in an industry that have been spending the last couple of years outbidding each other in terms of sustainability goals and supply chain transparency. One of these labels constitutes DÔEN, a Los Angeles-based fashion brand that speaks of itself as a “collective” and hit the headlines a few months ago when the label’s website announced: “We do not consider ourselves to be a slow fashion or sustainable brand.” What may sound confusing at first, especially since DÔEN has often been referred to as a sustainable label by the media, reveals to be part of a strategy that puts a central focus on the values of integrity, honesty and accountability. Instead of opportunistically jumping on the green bandwagon and leveraging that externally perceived sustainable image, the founding sisters of DÔEN rather wish to contribute to a franker narrative about sustainability. Even though the label aims at being, one day, sustainable in the full sense of the word, they hold themselves accountable for not being 100% climate-neutral today. On the way of achieving that goal, the label scrupulously avoids being associated with hollow green-washing communications, but rather concentrates on providing the customer with both fact- and evidence-based information, on hiring a Director of Impact and on being consistent with its “2021 Resolutions” dedicated to their environmental impact, ethical practices and partnership commitments. This alternative framing of sustainability is also pursued by other emerging fashion labels. Maria McManus, for instance, qualifies her clothes as “made with the future in mind”, while designer Angel Chang describes her offering as “zero carbon womenswear that follows the cycles of nature”. We at Circle Culture Consulting could not cheer more on DÔEN and the like since we feel that their approach to environmental responsibility deeply resonates with the educated customer’s expectations towards more sincere and clear-cut brand communication.
"  Circle Culture
MARCH 21 – 02

Synthetic Media

A new narrative to emerge?

The current pandemic has put new spotlight on the potential of synthetic media, a technology that has been emerging over the last fifteen years – at first barely noticeably, but faster and faster since 2017. Synthetic media constitutes an umbrella term for all kinds of content generated or manipulated by artificial intelligence, often through machine learning and deep learning, and includes, amongst others, virtual assistants, chatbots synthesizing text and speech as well as virtual beings like, for instance, computer-generated Instagram influencers. While, thus far, rather the dangers, risks and downsides in relation to the technology’s manipulation and the production of deepfakes had been put forward, we at Cc currently observe the emergence of a new, more positive narrative around synthetic media. The latter would thus especially allow for the democratization of creativity through huge possibilities of experimentation. As a result, as highlighted by VentureBeat, “individuals will be able to produce high-quality content on minimal budget”. From a corporate perspective, synthetic media would present hitherto untapped opportunities, especially when it comes to diversity issues, like creating video content in multiple languages and skin colors. And also from a sociopolitical standpoint, the new technology offers promising prospects in countries where opposition forces want to attract public awareness to grievances through interviews and media reports, while wanting to protect their identities. However, as pointed out by the visionary and bestselling author Martin Lindstrom that we have recently interviewed for a global insights projects on media consumption habits, there is a crucial need for an ethical code of conduct and industry-wide standards in regard to consent and misinformation if we want to make these new media incarnations thrive. We at Cc could not agree more and are curious to follow up on whether this different narrative around synthetic media is here to stay.
"  Circle Culture
FEB 21 – 02

Momentum for Diversity

The cases of WhiteHouse.gov and Netflix

The return of hope that shaped Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony on the 20thof January could also be felt when visiting the White House’s new website that went online the same day. Through light and friendly colors, structured and easy-to-find content as well as much free space the website communicates accessibility, inclusion and kindness. Under the creative leadership of Senior Advisor and transgender Robyn Kanner, the Washington-based agency Wide Eye has been responsible for WhiteHouse.gov’s revamping. The idea of inclusion and diversity can thus be understood as a theme that not only the White House’s website wants to stand for, but also the choice of creative agency that Joe Biden’s team has made when opting for Wide Eye. While looking at the agency’s team presentation, it is striking that four out of the five leadership roles are held by women. This case can be perceived as a signal that diversity, which has been of ever greater importance within our societies and overall policies during the last years, has eventually also spilled over into the consultancy and agency landscape. We are thus currently observing a dynamic when it comes to diversity and inclusion that gains momentum. Another case in point is Netflix that just published its first-ever company inclusion report. In an effort to serve entertainment for everybody, so far, Netflix has rather stood out thanks to its program that, from day one on, has been featuring films and series that actively reflect the values of inclusion, diversity and equality. Yet, they have been relatively late to the table when it comes to building up an internal structure that is infused by these very same values and principles. The appointment of Verna Myers as Netflix’ VP of inclusion strategy in 2018 represented a first step towards more diversity on the corporate level as well. We at Cc are curious to follow up on these cases that, hopefully, will flow into an ever increasing amount of lived inclusion at all levels of social, cultural and economic interactions.
"  Circle Culture
June 21 – 01

WORK SNAPSHOT FROM CIRCLE CULTURE CONSULTING

Origin Bio’s mission to harness nature exponentially

After having worked with the global leading synthetic biology company Ginkgo Bioworks on their venture Joyn Bio which they entered into with Leaps by Bayer in 2018, we are proud to be on board with Origin Bio, the first promising synthetic biology company from Germany. Leveraging millions of years of evolution, Origin Bio wants to fuel “the convergence of engineering with biology, using DNA as the programming language”, as reads the press release on the occasion of the start-up’s latest successful funding round. Origin Bio’s target segment constitutes existing original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for whom the company wants to produce – thanks to computing, automation and machine learning – entirely new organisms that free those manufacturers from petrochemical dependency. We joined forces with Origin Bio to help develop their visual expression including logo, accompany them in building the messaging for their pitch desk as well as conceptualize, design and code their webpage. Through several in-depth interviews with key stakeholders from both Origin Bio and BlueYard, a Berlin-based impact capital firm that has substantially invested into Origin Bio, we could build common ground and align both teams towards united visions and goals. To achieve a differentiating visual expression of the logo, we opted for a bright and gradient color perspective in green and blue. Since there is today a trend towards foregoing an elaborate figurative mark, we decided in favor of a simple typo logo equipped yet with a meaningful twist thanks to the superscript “Bio”. The latter serves not only as a kind of imprint, but also refers to Origin Bio’s raison d’être that lies in the purpose of growing biotechnologies exponentially (“scaling to the power of biology”) in order to harness – instead of exploiting – nature. We finally crafted a dynamic webpage telling in one strand the proprietary story of Origin Bio. One striking feature of the webpage reprsents an iconic mark that we developed out of the company’s new logo and that provides orientation within the site’s menu. Go check https://origin.bio to explore Origin Bio’s exciting storyline.
"  Circle Culture
APRIL 21 – 01

Learning from artists

Cross-pollination beyond product design

When we think of collaborations (in marketing jargon commonly simply referred to as “collabs”) between brands and artists, it’s probably the limited edition, that is, a brand’s most iconic product artistically designed by a contemporary artist, coming to our mind. With our division Art Collaborations (http://cc-artcollaborations.com), we target yet a broader field of cross-pollination between both worlds since we are convinced that, if we exclusively draw on art to design hip products, we totally miss the huge potential that the arts are capable of infusing the whole (corporate) organization with. From this point of view, art and artists are rather perceived as a highly valuable human resource that can bring nonlinear thinking, visionary ideas as well as an unbiased outsider’s perspective to all divisions and hierarchical layers of the collaborating organization. When we dive into history, the idea of a larger art leverage does not appear to be that new though: Already the Artist Placement Group that was founded in London in 1966, pursued the aim of placing artists in governments as well as in commercial and industrial organizations in order to provide the latter with completely alternative ways of seeing and thinking to rely on. The close cooperation between Jony Ive and Apple may serve as a perfect case in point here: Ive did not only design iconic products for Apple, but rather established a specific way of thinking, a proprietary language within the corporation. With Cc Art Collaborations we are committed to somehow revive the legacy of the Artist Placement Group by turning artists into real and strategic sparring partners at C-level that the whole organization can and should learn from.
"  Circle Culture
MARCH 21 – 01

Speculative Design

Zooming out towards preferrable futures

In today’s consumer research and innovation activities, the key focus commonly lies with the (lead) user and his/her problems, needs and desires. Yet, “focusing on the narrow goals of the user as it relates to the business as it exists today leads us to a narrow view of the opportunity space that we’re working in”, emphasizes J. Paul Neeley who understands himself as a speculative designer. Speculative design, that is sometimes also called critical design or design fiction, wants us to zoom out beyond user-centric design considerations and asks us to explore what effects our designs, innovations and products might have on future societies. To put it differently, speculative design is not primarily about problem solving as we know it from prototyping, it is neither about attempting to anticipate the future as we do it with forecasts, not it is about mere criticism. Speculative designs rather materialize in artefacts (e.g. a clock, an essay, a picture or a TV series) that help us think about how we wish to interact with our future environment and within our future society. Speculative design is thus not about reflecting on how to realize a (product/service) idea, but rather about reflecting on what world, society or community we would shape and produce if that specific idea came to life - and therefore on the question of how desirable that world would actually be. We at Cc have been using this approach quite successfully since many years now: By bringing visionary artists and transdisciplinary creative minds to almost each project that we have the chance to run, we always consciously zoom out beyond the known and the learnt in order to adopt a less linear rationale, thereby pushing innovations towards more whole, more comprehensible and hopefully more sustainable solutions in the long term.
"  Circle Culture
FEB 21 – 01

GROW

Highlighting the beauty of agriculture

Thanks to several projects at the intersection of biotechnology and agriculture that we had the chance to run with our clients Joyn Bio and Unfold, we could take a closer look at the current challenges and overarching issues that have been keeping the ag tech sector busy during the last years. The ever-growing world population raises the question of if and how we will be able to feed the billions of people to come. Traditional farming has long reached its organic limits. The all-determining efforts thus go into researching and hopefully identifying promising technologies that allows us to take the next step into a more sustainable ag and food production system. One of the key innovations that have defined the ag context and especially the realm of vertical farming in recent times constitute LED lights. The latter are not only able to provide indoor plants with the necessary lightening to grow and flower, but they make it also possible to reduce the usage of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. The project “Grow” by the Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde wants to actually showcase both the power and hope that LED lights hold in store for the ag scene’s future – for the planet’s future, for our future. For the Grow installation, Roosegaarde’s team has immersed over 215,000 square feet of leek crops in red, blue and UV LED light. They turn on the lights by night, thereby creating a poetic scenery of – to put it with Fast Company – “glowing creatures at the bottom of the ocean”. With our own cross-disciplinary consultancy service “Art Collaborations” (http://cc-artcollaborations.com), we at Cc are absolute fans of the both inspiring and instructive project: Grow does not only form a perfect symbiosis between art and science, but it also excels in demonstrating how scientific developments and breakthroughs can be effectively communicated by and through art.