[The Tanning Effect: Steve Stoute Visits Spelman College]

There’s been a strong shift in the cultural programming of America and Steve Stoute, former music executive at Interscope and CEO & Founder of Translation (a strategic powerhouse specializing in advertising, branding, consulting, and marketing), has been at the forefront of chronicling this phenomenon. His first book, The Tanning of America:¬†How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy, dropped last month and is filled with insights from his personal experience in the music and advertising industries that explain how the definition of cool has been shaped and restructured by the hip-hop culture and other modern pop culture influences.

Spelman College President Beverly Tatum sat down with this branding genius for an intimate conversation about his new book, his career development, and advice on staying current in this fast-paced, contemporary world we live in. Stoute discussed the new level of cool that brands need to strive to attain. This “perpetual cool” requires authenticity, timely action, and being unapologetic in the pursuit of success. Check out some of my personal takeaways from the discussion below, and be sure to get your copy of The Tanning of America today.

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  • Stoute noted that hip-hop music came and the culture followed. This can apply to all creative industries, whether it be music, art, or fashion. Any genre that achieves a certain position or market share within the industry will eventually develop a complementary culture that has the power to transform lives and the brands associated with it.
  • Simplicity is a winning factor. Steve appreciates simple (but effective) moves and notes that people celebrate simplicity and the brands that portray it.
  • Our generation has a responsibility to serve as [translators]. We have the experiences and insights that these big businesses need to connect with the modern consumer. We can’t allow a company to limit, censor, or ignore our perspectives; we just have to find effective ways to articulate them so that the messages are delivered clearly.
  • A brand’s story (whether it’s a personal brand or an actual company/product) has to stay fresh in order to hold its place in contemporary culture.¬†Always “contemporize” your message so that it doesn’t sound like yesterday, but tomorrow and don’t wait too long or you’ll be left behind.