Hint: it’s not about being wildly rich
Recently Charlie Rose asked Bill Gates about Steve Jobs: “What did he have that you wish you had?”
“Oh, his sense of design. That everything had to fit a certain aesthetic…it shows that design can lead you in a good direction…and phenomenal products came out,” answered Gates. “He and I, in a sense, grew up together, and every fantasy we had about creating products and learning new things, you know, we achieved all of it.”
In fact, creativity (and one outgrowth –design) is highly and widely regarded in our culture today: 93% of Americans say independent thinking is critical to their children’s success; 85% say “the ability to think, work, and live creatively.” [Source: DYG SCAN 2013]
Watch what a multi-billionaire does and how he wants to be recorded in the press (and history) and you get another important view of what defines status. We see and hear more from Bill Gates these days about malaria or new kinds of toilets than software. He’s given up his long-standing #1 spot on the Forbes “richest’ list by giving away so much of his fortune. And since going from #1 rich guy to #1 philanthropist, he’s never been more admired.
Americans agree: ethics and the social good are top of mind when we assess our lives. When we ask Americans to describe themselves, we get a good read on what they value most…what defines status. The leading attribute now? Ethical. 91% say “ethical describes me very well/perfectly.” [DYG SCAN 2012]
Money matters in modern status. But the ultimate question is – are you doing something creative to earn it and how are you using it for the greater good?
Business Implications: How can creativity and ethics be part of what your brand stands for – in product innovation or positioning? Can your product bring your customers into the creative process? Can they become an active partner in your brand’s ethical activity? Americans have always used what they buy, do, drive and wear as badges to telegraph status. New status rationales equal new opportunity for marketers.