"Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?"
The year was 350 B.C.E. The day was just like today, one cold sunny afternoon. [I can only imagine!]
Plato, who documented every move of this magical sage writes that Socrates tells Meno that "he not only does not know if virtue can be taught, but does not understand the nature of virtue." Meno shudders, his conviction challenged, he tastes the dialectic method for which Socrates sacrificed his life.
For ages, Socrates has been revered as the grand master of intellectual eloquence and inquiry: the ideal critical thinker. It is not one idea that earned him this seat of distinguished honor. It is his method of questioning and cross-examination of opposing views that leads to illumination of ideas. Engaging in the Socratic Method makes us confident about the experience of questioning anything including our own ideas and beliefs. By constantly asking critical questions, dynamic brands are in a perpetual state of flux. Brands like Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Google, Virgin or Starbucks constantly align themselves to the questions of the times. They are courageously passionate about doing business in a more "virtuous" fashion that brings value to the clients and adds momentum to their balance sheets. Their "brand virtue" goes through the high standards of Socratic questioning time and time again. (“Virtue” is not a term that marketers use, yet as a concept it explains growing consumer expectations toward brands and companies.)
The prevalent coffee drinking culture is the result of some adventurous minds who questioned the idea of black beans. When you walk into Starbucks every morning, you are walking into a culture of comfort, free wi-fi access and a brand that exudes happiness, social responsibility and confidence. The coffee is only a very small part of the scenic setting: it is a "well placed treat in the bigger context of the story you walked into. Why else would people pay $4.00 for a $.038 cup of coffee?" - Seth Godin
In July 2008, when a barrel of oil rocketed 140 US dollars, Southwest Airlines was sitting on a pile of cash and fuel hedges. It was way ahead of the curve. In time of massive crunch, when the virtue of the brand could have been diminished, it soared higher gaining rock-hard customer confidence and securing its survival in the hyper-competitive world of air travel.
Constant examination of your marketing plans and your brand perception helps to reign in Focus, Motivation and Connection. Even before you decide to exhibit at trade shows bring in focus the entire company towards achieving its vision, mission, and goals. Align the company goals to that of your exhibit design. Your exhibiting space and your exhibit represents the tangible and the intangible worth of your company.
Motivation: “Changing The World” is a Growing Mandate; one with emotional benefits for consumers. Motivate your booth staffers to be “responsible,” “doing their part to change the world,” “smart and savvy,” and “resourceful”. People like doing business when brand ambassadors exhibit these qualities.
Connection: Brand Virtue Appeals To All Ages. While the trait of “forward thinking”, “cool and contemporary” is particularly relevant for youngest adults, collaboration is important to younger and middle-aged adults. Females are more inclined to push brand boundaries with respect to responsible behavior. 68% of women, compared with 57% of men, believe that brands “sometimes show real courage by standing up for issues that are not always popular..."
In Plato's Apology, Socrates is defiant in defending his way of life. In one of the most forceful works in Western literature, "Socrates defends a life of constant inquiry and examination of beliefs and actions". He had prophecized that his death sentence would guarantee him the "heroic figure, one who died for the “crime” of thinking for himself and for encouraging others to do likewise."
Thank you Socrates. You have enhanced the evolutionary process of mankind.