At the intersection of relevance and difference is value

By Martha Ortiz

Medellin, Colombia


The 2022 Trend Hunter report talks about how our approach to global relationships from diverse angles — from opportunities and dependencies (2010-2019) to COVID-19 (2020-2021) — has brought about the chaos we are defining ourselves by today (one to three years, in the authors’ opinion).

The key point today is how to make an amazing comeback in the future.

If we look at our production history as human beings, we move from commodities, to products, to services, to experiences. What is next? Where is the future of media?

Media companies need to keep an eye on global trends and what other international institutions are doing in order to differentiate themselves.
Media companies need to keep an eye on global trends and what other international institutions are doing in order to differentiate themselves.

When we created the ECOlab at El Colombiano to formalise the innovation and strategy process, we created new smart solutions and also developed a permanent part of the culture. I remember the first time I asked the team to review the same kind of products or services in different parts of the world we selected based on reputation, awards, and how they were different from us.

Yes, I asked them to check Asia, Africa, and all around the globe! Did my team speak Chinese? Hindu? No. Were they made speechless by my request? Yes, at the beginning.

Why did I do this? Because globalisation has brought us a common image code. It is easy to identify a headline in Finnish, an interview in Japanese, a commercial banner in
isiZulu, and an article about the stock market or sports in Portuguese. Every day, we are becoming more uniform as media services providers.

That universal multi-media language is a wonderful tool for communicating among societies and for the growth of a global economy. However, it is also taking away our uniqueness. Is it good or bad? It’s both, depending on the angle you are looking at it.

With that idea in mind, why not check countries far from Colombia to really be surprised by something? My team was incredible with this exercise and had a lot of fun doing it. We were amazed by certain ideas, and, yes, we found inspiration to explore new ways of doing certain things thanks to the lab.

I was a judge for INMA’s 2023 Global Media Awards for the Best New Audio/Voice Product or Features category. I enjoyed listening to every proposal. It didn’t matter the language and, recalling similar instances at the innovation lab, I was amazed again by how I was able to identify moments in more difficult audio formats or in foreign languages. I identified the introduction, key moments, endings, effects, guests, and music.

This led me to a second thought: If we are producing similar ideas, what is our competitive advantage as individual brands?

In his book La Estrategia Emergente (The Emerging Strategy), consultant Alejandro Salazar has a whole chapter about value. He believes so strongly in this that it is part of the subtitle: “Has value, idiot.”

What is value? His definition is the intersection of different and relevant. You are not competitive if you offer something that is just different but has no relevance. It could be interesting, but that is the end of it. You are not really important.

You are also not competitive if you offer something that is only relevant but not different. Yes, it is important, but there are many offers like yours.

Through the lens of globalisation, to be universal, you still need to have some different aspects. The relevant product or service that you offer must stand out to the audience and convert them through the funnel into committed and loyal clients. Based on the Trend Hunter’s “future,” I consider this idea as a key reason to keep playing. It’s a big challenge — how fun!

About Martha Ortiz

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