Neophile or Neophiliac, a term popularised by cult writer Robert Anton Wilson, is a personality type characterized by a strong affinity for novelty. The term was used earlier by Christopher Booker in his book The Neophiliacs, and by J. D. Salinger in his short story Hapworth 16, 1924
Seek the novel, the inspirational, the challenging, the fresh and the outright brave. It's not for everyone, in fact it's estimated that roughly speaking over half of any given data sample will likely prefer the tried-and-tested, that is, the safe.
In 1961, American communication theorist and sociologist, Everett Rogers introduced the 'Innovation Diffusion' theory. Simply put, the 'Neophiliacs' would be those 'early adopters' that are keen to pursue the latest tech, fashion, trends, and general innovations.
When being innovative, it's mused that ignoring the latter half of this bell curve is completely rational. Those that belong to the 'Late Majority' and 'Laggards' category will perhaps adopt such innovations through horizontal integration when the word slowly spreads person to person, and time solidifies such new creations as the new norm. For example, catwalk fashion is often outright bizarre, but when we look at catwalk fashion from five years ago we suddenly spot many current day norms, this is because the innovators dream it, the early adopters rush to it, and the early majority eventually accept it and pass it on to the rest of the population.
When it comes to style, technology, or innovations, most people like what they have. They want to do what others are doing, and they aren't actively seeking novelty.
- Seth Godin
At Mäd, you'll often find our CEO uttering that no suggestion is too stupid, no matter how stupid it indeed is. This is because we encourage innovative thinking, which sometimes includes the very abstract, the very simplistic, the very complex and indeed the very stupid. For example, if we're designing a complex app, we need to be aware that sometimes the user may not be as tech-savvy or instinctively astute, what may seem like common sense to some might be an arduous riddle to others. We cover such ideas in designing for the lowest common denominator.
Once we have our innovative pitch- for a website, a brand, an app, or any manner of projects- and have ironed out the particulars, we set our sights on how best to present our ideas.
If we were expecting to pitch to 'Laggards', then we'd be foolish to propel energy towards promoting radical new solutions. Fortunately, our reputation and previous work attracts Neophiliacs hoping to breathe life and innovation into their projects.
Understanding what Neophiliacs want, helps structure our content. These individuals are likely those that'll queue hours before a store opens for new gadget launches, or those that'll book cinema tickets for premiers to ensure they're the first to see a blockbuster. Equally, in the business sphere, they'll be looking for us to showcase the freshest solutions perhaps with cutting edge technology and innovative marketing ideas. If everyone else is using pictures, let's use videos, if they're on videos, let's explore VR and AR. For those that like tried-and-tested, we'd simply research the market and find out what is accepted and working, but for these Neophiliacs our research starts surprisingly similarly. You might break down such brainstorming as:
- What is the problem we need to solve?
1.1. Can we define this clearer?
1.2. Are they other problems wrapped up in the initial brief?
- Are there others already attempting to solve this problem?
2.1. What solutions do they use?
2.1.2. How effective are their solutions?
- If there were no limitations on tech, budget and overall resources, how could the problem be solved?
3.1. How feasible are these solutions to the current landscape?
3.2. Is there resources available that match our solution requirements?
3.2.2 If not, could we build the solutions ourselves or source someone that could?
- Can we simplify our concepts, so to explain what our innovative solutions entail?
Point 4 is particularly interesting as there is no harm in creating intrigue and wonderment, as this will excite the Neophiliacs. However, when describing an innovation you're attempting to introduce something unknown and therefore potentially confusing. You should prepare for many questions, and potential skepticism. Taking the time to perform meticulous market research helps us to identify the gaps in the market, the potential pain points and capture the current zeitgeist.
Finally, after taking the time to create exciting innovative ideas, you owe it to the ideas to give them the 'packaging' they deserve. By this, we mean you should add flare where flare belongs, or sincerity and authority when appropriate. E.g. Are you pitching to a start-up design-lab? Then create a sleek presentation full of bold colours and graphics. Are you presenting to the CFO of an international bank? Then lay out all process in a well-written, concise document perhaps following the structure of the Amazon 'six-pager' or go further in-depth when appropriate. We recently worked on a 60 page pitch for a highly technical project involving a global industry leader, great projects can't always be summarized briefly or skimped upon.
Neophiliacs are a rare breed, but an important one. Focusing energy to identify this market, allows the innovative to find the ideal audience for their creations. Wasting time on the stubborn, the skeptical or the laggards is simply unproductive - have faith that they'll catch on in the years to come once Neophiliacs have championed your work.
Highlight that your cutting edge technology is cutting edge technology. This may seem redundant, but sometimes to turn heads you simply need to loudly state that you've something head-turning. Attract the curious, provide dreams for the dreamers - once you've done the meticulous research and development to make it a reality.
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