The Occupy Wall Street movement has officially become a national (actually, global) movement. Whatever you think of the politics, it serves as another opportunity to understand how movements and ideas spark, take shape and spread.
At Mythology, we like to be students of belief-based movements, both social and commercial. While being criticized by some as not having a clear message, the idea behind OWS is powerful and simple. From a web site that seems to serve as a rallying hub:
Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.
This #OWS movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don't need Wall Street and we don't need politicians to build a better society.
Of course, it's also fully exploiting the power of instant media and social media platforms:
And it has already spawned its own parodies:
For the most part, organizations with formal brands still have not embraced the full power of the "sticky" elements of true movement-building: surprise, unexpectedness, emotion. There is a hesitancy that comes from clinging to structure and control that many formal institutions will never quite embrace. And no true movement can be completely developed top-down; by definition it must be participatory and free-flowing (within certain boundaries).
Still, it's interesting to think of things to learn from these grass roots movements, fueled by rebellious, often unscripted energy (although, as the movement matures, we're seeing signs of scripts and real strategies).
What can your brand or public institution learn from the success of the OWS movement?