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April 02, 2017 | Tom Ballard

Venue, speakers underscore key themes of “SHYFT Design + Innovation Conference”

SHYFTBy Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

You could not help but take note of the symbolism resulting from Techmer PM holding its second annual “SHYFT Design + Innovation Conference” at Chattanooga’s Hunter Museum of Art.

Perched high above the Tennessee River with panoramic views of the surrounding area, the venue provided a fitting backdrop as representatives from several companies in the region showcased how design and innovation are driving their business.

About 100 people attended the event Thursday that also featured an amazing, fast-paced presentation by Marc Shillum, recently named Senior Director of Global Brand Creative at eBay and Founder of the company’s Brand Innovation Lab. Noting his new employer is the “first and only global organization to have the vision to put brand marketing within the product organization,” Shillum provided a captivating look at the challenges facing marketers today.

His presentation mirrored the first five chapters of a book he is midway through writing and promised to have completed with copies ready for distribution if he is invited to speak at the 2018 SHYFT event. The name of the book is Patterns.

Shillum emphasized the rapid change that is driving most organizations and the fact that the tools needed to manage businesses and brands were not keeping pace with the change rocking their companies.

“The old thinking was that brands must be consistent only,” he told the attendees. In today’s environment, where brand loyalty is fleeting, there’s a need for both consistency and adaptability. In the case of the latter, it’s all about relevance to the needs and expectations of the customer.

“Consistency plus relevance equals coherence or a pattern” Shillum said, explaining that patterns are consistent though they can change, allowing for variation.

“Brand loyalty is dead, but interface loyalty is rising,” he added. “Interface loyalty creates the lasting relationship.”

It was a truly captivating presentation that is almost impossible to summarize in a succinct article. Fortunately, there are a number of presentations that Shillum has made over the years on the topics of brand marketing in general and his theory of patterns particularly. They include:

  • This Vimeo from four years ago titled “Consistent brands through repeating patterns”; and
  • This Fast Company article from October titled “A seismic shift from brand loyalty to interface loyalty.”

In kicking-off the one-day event, Techmer PM’s Founder, Chair and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) used five words to set the stage – inspire, inform, connect, advocate and act.

“We’re here to make things happen,” John Manuck said. “We’re here to do real things.”

Techmer PM has its largest operation in Clinton, and its Founder urged attendees to connect and find ways to collaborate. That theme was repeated throughout the day.

“We consider ourselves a problem-solving, solution provider company,” Manuck added. Watch in the next week or so for a three-part series profiling the history of the company.

In addition to Manuck and Shillum, the event also featured four East Tennessee-based innovators that have been spotlighted in previous articles. They were:

  • Platt Boyd, Founder and CEO ofBranch Technology Inc., the Chattanooga-based 3D printing company focused on revolutionizing the building industry.
  • Bryan Dods, CEO of IACMI – The Composites Institute located in West Knoxville who said “the power of what IACMI is doing is putting together collaborations.”
  • Greg Haye, General Manager of Local Motors’ Knoxville operation, who underscored Shillum’s point about rapid changes in manufacturing by telling the story of the evolution of the Olli autonomous vehicle which will be in commercial product this June, about a year after the CAD drawings first appeared.

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