Joe Greeley here, with Nimlok Minnesota.

Here’s what’s on my mind, “Hey Joe, what’s the latest trend?”

I hear this every day, and I can’t tell you how many times a week I hear this.  I hear this more often than an Irishman hears on St. Patrick’s Day, “Hey, would you like another pint?” And I’m Irish, so I know a little bit about that, and that happens a lot, too.

I think to myself, why do you want to know? Are you trying to do what everybody else has been doing? Are you trying to do what’s similar to everybody else? Same? Kind of like? Do you want to do something to be just average – fly below the radar?  AHHH! Of course you don’t, right?  You want to do something different.  Then why care about the trends?

Then we hear, “What about technical trends, or materials trends?  I know they’re using a lot more fabric.”  Absolutely!  And we can, too, and so can everybody else – there’s nothing unique about that, and we’ll figure that out along the way.  But people don’t walk by an exhibit and go, “Oooh, fabric!” do they?  Or, “Oooh, he’s got an iPad!” Huh uh, they’ve been using iPads for ten years – there’s nothing unique about it. It’s what you do with the fabric, and it’s what you do with the iPad that makes you unique. But it’s more about you and has nothing to do with those things, right?

So think about trends though, they have their place, especially in everyday life, right?  I think of it this way – my wife likes romantic comedies. She’s seen eighty-three. I’ve been to eighty-three, but I’ve only seen two so far.  I slept through eighty-one of them. But they’re all a similar story right?  Boy likes girl, boy chases girl, boy catches girl, boy loses girl, and then I think he catches her again if I’m not mistaken.  All very similar, slightly different actors, different locations, but very, very same outcome. Very similar, same sleeping husband. So they’re all the same.

And again, they have their place, on Wall Street maybe.  Maybe even the sciences. On Wall Street you follow a trend, and you make a little bit more money. In sciences you follow the trend and you cure diseases and save some lives and that’s great! I certainly don’t want my doctor not following the trend, right? “You know Joe, we’ve seen this sore throat symptom a thousand times recently, but you know what? This time I’m not going to follow the trend and I’m going to go rogue and treat it with Preparation H instead of cough syrup.”  Say what? I don’t think so, doc, we’re going to follow the trend, go back to cough syrup! So the point is, they have their place.

When it comes to creativity, I need you to think about trends and throw them out the window! Get rid of them. Trends are just a bunch of opinions, too often, when it comes to actual creativity.  When you sit down with your team, and your exhibit house, and you decide next time we want to do something different, we want to make some changes.  We want to add on, or maybe we want to start over. You need to start talking about your vision, what makes you tick. What makes your company, your brand, your engagement completely unique from anybody else?  And how do you build on that, and come up with ideas that are completely unique to you, and unique to the industry? If it’s the same and it’s the trend, you’re just going to blend right in. If I’m near my competitors and I do something the same, how are you going to differentiate yourself?

So the goal here is to do something completely unique, to show up and stand out on the show floor.  Otherwise, you’re going to be more of like, “Well, I’m kind of like this….it’s sort of like this…”  You just kind of blend in. We’re looking for a differentiator.  Something that’s going to be remarkable and something that’s going to be memorable.

Clint Eastwood once said, “Trends are like riding on the coattails of somebody else’s success.” And I think he’s dead on on this, right?  Trends are comfortable. If he did things that everybody else had done, he wouldn’t have been nearly the actor and director that he is today.

Anyway, that’s what was on my mind. Let us know how we can help.