For really great brands to flourish, what’s needed is the right ecosystem.
This time of year many of us, having reflected, reset our brand ambitions for the future. Perhaps over the last twelve months we have selfishly indulged in our thinking or maybe we just got plain lazy. At the time we made ourselves feel better by saying, “This is the way we’ve always done things”, or maybe it was just easier to take the path of least resistance.
So why change now? Why start a brand revolution? The answer is simple. While the originators of the ritual, the Babylonians, made a commitment to a fresh start to get on the right side of their gods, we in the world of brand do it to keep on the right side of our divine spirits – consumers.
One of my brand heroes David Hieatt, founder of Howies, the Do Lectures, and latterly of Hiut Denim, has a winning formula for change.
D x V x F < R
The formula translates as: D (Dissatisfaction with how things are) multiplied by V (Vision of what is possible) multiplied by F (First concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision). If these 3 factors are greater than R (Resistance) then change is possible.
Hiut is a unique company born out of David’s vision to start a new jeans company by using the skills of the folk in Cardigan who worked in the UK’s largest jeans factory before it closed down. The revolution has definitely made its first concrete steps.
This formula for change isn’t limited to the little guys like Hiut. We’ve already seen supermarket giant Sainsbury’s make a play for Home Retail Group. The jewel in HRG’s crown being Argos.
But what is driving Sainsbury’s to revolutionise the way it does business? It’s already moved up to number two in the UK grocery market and has great quality credentials. Right now though, quality is not enough. Today’s brand revolutionary recognizes that superior brand product gets trumped every time by an innovative brand eco-system.
What Sainsbury’s really desire is the Argos distribution network, combined with further high street presence. The new year revolution for Sainsbury’s is a high-street hypermarket. The vision of a mass-market retail chain that, through a flexible mixture of in-store stock, super speedy home delivery and click-and-collect, offers people everything from fridge freezers to frozen food on their doorstep and to their doorstep in double time. Ecosystem first beats product first.
Sainsbury’s aren’t the only giant to think ecosystem over product. In the US, GE are morphing from relying on manufacturing might to network nous. For the last 42 years they’ve been headquartered in Fairfield, Conn., but the beginning of 2016 heralds a move to Boston. GE’s ambition is to transform itself into the world’s premier digital industrial company.
Why Boston? GE wants to be at the centre of an ecosystem that shares its vision. Once more ecosystem first beats product first. Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt explains:
Boston is home to 55 colleges and universities. Massachusetts spends more on research & development than any other region in the world, and Boston attracts a diverse, technologically-fluent workforce focused on solving challenges for the world. We are excited to bring our headquarters to this dynamic and creative city.
In a world that continues to globalise, with rapidly emerging technology and changing consumer behaviour, to be a successful brand revolutionary requires a much wider network of expertise and knowledge than at any other time in marketing history.
At CES 2016 this month, the world’s largest consumer electronics show, the battle of the ecosystem continued. Driven by technological innovation Apple, Amazon, Nest, Samsung started the revolution, now the old world manufacturers and retailers are joining in. Don’t wait until next new year to put ecosystem to the top of your list of brand commitments things to do things differently.