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Disrupt Your Industry

In the world of enterprise technology, one name towers above the rest – a mammoth. It’s a company whose hands are in so many profitable pies, it’s easy to wonder how it keeps up. Its product have changed the way we live, learn and interact. It has opened up tremendous opportunities for information distribution and sales.

Despite amassing huge wealth, the company’s motto remains “Don’t Be Evil.” That company is Google, a disruptive organisation.

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Disruptive companies are the rave. They radically upturn existing ways of doing things. They look at business models and ask “Why are things done this way”? They say, “We’re going to do things differently and create new paradigms”.

Disruptive companies rip the corporate rule book to shreds, rewriting a whole new book.

According to Clayton M. Christensen who coined the term disruptive technologies, a disruptive innovation helps create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network (over a few years or decades), displacing an earlier technology. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

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How low-end disruption occurs over time.

In contrast to disruptive innovation, a sustaining innovation does not create new markets or value networks but rather only evolves existing ones with better value, allowing the firms within to compete against each other’s sustaining improvements.

There are three lessons we can glean from Google’s disruption and apply to any industry or market. They are:

  1. Create a new market or ecosystem

Google created a profitable business from search and online advertising, deepening the industry and pioneering a new monetization model for “eyeballs” and “click throughs”.

The lesson here is that while product originality matters, the creation of a monetization model that actually works is what qualifies you as a disruptive innovator.

  1. Scale up to own the product pipeline

Google’s successful product offerings include but are not limited to:

  • Gmail
  • Google Drive
  • Google Docs
  • Google Maps
  • Google Now
  • Android [acquired in 2005]

Each product interacts with the other and the idea is to own the customer so completely that it would be disruptive (see what we did there…) to go elsewhere. So as you use Gmail, it makes sense to attach heavy files with Google Drive. You also use an Android phone so your Gmail syncs seamlessly.

Apple employs the same methodology with its “i-ecosystem” – you can seamlessly buy music on iTunes and sync with your iPod. You can even buy that iPod with Apple Pay.

While other companies may have their own versions of some of Google’s products, the inventiveness and originality of thought that goes into providing an interrelated pipeline of products which create a market system is the hallmark of a disruptive company.

Take Google Now for instance. Google Now is one of the more ambitious evolutions of Google’s search software. The idea is simple — it predicts what you need to know before you do based on your habits, stored information and search history. It will show you upcoming appointments or tell you when you need to leave to get home on time.

It will give you a preview of your route, with one-button navigation. It will also show upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. Or, it can display weather information for upcoming travel destinations. A bit creepy…yes. And that’s just the beginning. Using its advantage in search and its rich store of consumer data, Google is set to create new markets in data mining and predictive sales.

  1. Drill down to develop promising new markets

Although Google is known for big bets, it also has incredible depth and coverage in niche areas. For example, the company created an interface for Cherokee speakers (a language of about 20,000 people). In doing so, it is poised to become a preferred service provider in that market.

If Google’s tremendous success over the years is anything to go by, disruptive innovation is definitely the way to go for organisations that wish to make big plays into new markets and industries.

Personal Brands as Political Equity

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The election season is almost over in Nigeria and political jingles will soon cease renting the air. Until then, the usual suspects huff and puff as they jostle for the limelight of public attention.

Elections in Nigeria are typically colourful for many reasons – the promises made by candidates; the achievements adduced as reasons for votes and the social media bants amongst others. They also throw up personalities – the old guard reasserting their relevance and upstarts who scream, “away with gerontocracy”! This time around though, other personalities have jumped into the fray. The political stage is playing host to crooners, thespians and comedians – and not just as brand ambassadors or endorsers. The Glitterati, banking on the power of their personal brands are determined to actively trade them for political equity.

Abolore Adigun (9ice), Desmond Elliot, Kate Henshaw and Tony Tetuila to name a few are towing the footsteps of their western counterparts – Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan and Clint Eastwood as they make the transition from big screen and stage to Government house.

A famous example of an entertainer turned politician is Arnold Schwarzenegger of the Terminator Trilogy fame. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, in which he served from 1990 to 1993. He was Chairman of the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under Governor Pete Wilson and in 2003, he won the recall election against Governor Davis to become the Governor of California. Schwarzenegger was then re-elected in California’s 2006 gubernatorial election, to serve a full term as governor, defeating Democrat Phil Angelides, who was California State Treasurer at the time. However, his approval ratings hit an all-time low of 27% in 2009 and 22% when he left office in 2011, with a state budget deficit of $28 billion.

Another example of an actor turned politician is Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan initially chose a career in entertainment, appearing in more than 50 films. While in Hollywood, he served as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. In 1964, he began his political career as a Democrat. He announced in late 1965 his campaign for Governor of California. Ronald Reagan accomplished in 1966 what US Senator William F. Knowland in 1958 and former Vice-President Richard M. Nixon in 1962 had tried: he was elected, defeating two-term governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, and was sworn in on January 2, 1967. Shortly after the beginning of his term, Reagan tested the presidential waters in 1968. He was re-elected Governor in 1970. Reagan became president in 1981 and served for two terms. His approval ratings in 1988, shortly before he left office, were at 63%.

So, can personal branding readily translate to political success? Here are a few considerations:

  1. The political system must be mature enough to give political neophytes a shot. The rules must be clear and celebrities must meet the requirements.

In 2001, Wyclef Jean, a Haitian rapper, musician and actor established “Yéle Haiti” a charitable organisation known legally as the Wyclef Jean Foundation and incorporated in Illinois. The foundation became active in the aftermath of 2004’s Hurricane Jeanne, when it provided scholarships to 3,600 children in Gonaïves, Haiti with funding from Comcel. On August 5, 2010, he announced his bid to run for President but on August 20, 2010, his bid for candidacy was rejected by Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council. He was turned down because he did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the November 28 election.

  1. Making the leap to politics takes a lot of planning no matter how strong a personal brand is.

Voters need to buy into the ideas and promises of celebrities. Volunteers must be organised and political apparatuses set up.

  1. Celebrities must have a clear and working knowledge of the issues and challenges faced by their would-be constituents.

To succeed in politics, Nigerian celebrities will need to address all three of the foregoing considerations and add a big dose of tenacity to garner the political equity required to successfully run for or perform well in office.

Sometimes, celebrities are called upon to play the role of technocrat and not politician like Richard Mofe Damijo (RMD), in the role of Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Delta State or Weird MC, vigorous campaigner for Rauf Aregbesola, Governor of Osun State and a Special Assistant for Culture and Tourism.

In conclusion, a strong personal brand is potent political equity and is an incredible asset if parlayed alongside other political structures.

BrandIQ | 11 Rules For Naming Your Brand

Does your brand name ring a bell? What message does it convey? These are some questions to ask when assessing a name. When naming your brand, there are really no hard and fast rules. A brand may be named after the founder as in the case of Dell, Ford and Dangote or after a geographic location just like Eko Hotels and Suites or Bank of America. You can name your brand after countries, for example Nigerian Breweries and American International Group or even after its operational definition. University Press is an example of a brand named after its operational definition.

Although the decision is yours to make, there are certain “christening” rules that should guide you.

RULE 1: AVOID OVER-USED DESCRIPTIVE TITLES

“First” is a common example of such words. Today there are a lot of brands that have “First” in their names.

RULE 2: CONSIDER THE MEANING OF THE NAME

Never give your brand a name without thinking through. You don’t want to end up with a name that is unpleasant to consumers.

RULE 3: AVOID SHOCK AND AWE

Using shock strategy may grab attention but shocking brand names can also backfire. French Connection UK, FCUK as originally spelt, initially had this problem.

RULE 4: CONSIDER YOUR LOCAL CONTEXT

Consider the environment in which your brand operates. This matters as certain cultures may not accept some names. Find out if your brand name will be accepted in your area of operations.

RULE 5: THINK INTERNATIONAL

A name can mean different things to different people. If you intend to operate beyond your immediate environment, you will need to consider what your brand name means in your target countries or across different cultures.

RULE 6: DON’T STEAL

Don’t copy names of other brands especially well known brands. It is wrong to do so. You may get away with it when you are not well known but the moment you become successful, you could have a law suit on your hands.

RULE 7: CHECK YOUR EGO

Not every name can be a brand name. While there is no harm in naming your brand after yourself, don’t do so unless your name has “brand quality”. Also, stay away from native names that are difficult to pronounce.

RULE 8: AVOID FRIVOLITY

Naming your brand is serious business. Don’t fool around with your brand name. For example Common Sense Limited is not a good name because it says nothing about your brand.

RULE 9: BE CAREFUL ABOUT RELIGION

Religion is a sensitive issue therefore there is a need to be careful about names with heavy religious implication. You do not want to put off people with a different faith unless it is a religious brand.

RULE 10: THINK WEBMAIL

Check for the availability of your name as a domain on the internet. Since most internet names have email extensions, you should consider limitations you will face if your domain name registration presents difficult options.

RULE 11:  CHECK SOUND QUALITY

Consider how your brand name sounds particularly over the phone. You don’t want people making faces each time you mention your brand.

In conclusion, a name says a lot about your brand and can be the deciding factor between customer attraction and repulsion. Choose wisely.

BRANDIQ | 7 Ways to Create Brand Differentiation

Ever been hit by confusion in a store over the sheer amount of choices before you? Confusion sets in because you have no clear preference or can’t distinguish between available products. This daily task of choice can be a burden for the consumer. So, as you develop your business, a key question to ask is “what will distinguish my product or service from those of competitors? What will make it different?”

 

Brand differentiation is an organic factor in branding. Besides the quality of your products, it provides another layer of value. There are 7 ways to create brand differentiation; what we call the Brand Septagon.

 

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The Brand Septagon

Uncommoditise your product or service

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Product commoditisation occurs when your profit margins are so thin, you must sell volumes to break even. Competing products abound and the customer has no particular reason to buy your products. An example of a company that successfully uncomoditised a popular product is Starbucks.

Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse in the world and leading retailer of specialty coffee revolutionised the product by creating the distinctive Starbucks experience. Some people go there to be alone with their thoughts or be together with their friends or listen to incredible music. Starbucks is more than just a coffee place.

Create corporate distinction

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To create corporate distinction, ensure your organisation is known for a particular area of speciality. An example is Google’s global dominance in Internet search. The organisation distinguished itself through search quality and innovation. A remarkable feat is the adaption of the word ‘Google’ as a verb which has earned a place in the dictionary. Google continues to set the pace with new inventions like Google Glass.

Celebrate your customers

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A secret to attracting and retaining customers is to make them feel special, different and appreciated. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (MOHG) connects its advertising campaign to international celebrities who regularly stay at the hotel and consider themselves fans. Fans include Kevin Spacey, Christian Louboutin and Jane Seymour. Mandarin Oriental donates $10,000 to any charity the fan chooses.

Retain your customers

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You must ensure that customers don’t leave unexpectedly. Make exit difficult by tying them in through loyalty schemes or points. For example, in an attempt to penetrate the American market, Virgin America offered a free round-trip ticket to any location in America after four paid round-trips.

 Make it easy for customers to compare the advantage of one product over another

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Share your price advantage or new product features on your website. For example, the world’s largest retailer, Amazon sells electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and other consumer products.  It makes price comparison between vendors easy.

 Make it hard for new competitors to access your market

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Raise the competition bar through promotion of excellent standards, innovation or value added items. This makes it difficult for competitors to penetrate your market or steal market share. An example is Microsoft Office. Microsoft offers a full bundle of useful products to customers at an unbeatable price. Consumers love the offer and competitors find it difficult to match the breadth of offerings provided in the single package.

 Stoke desire

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Change the status of everyday utility products into objects of desire. Nike, one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel elevates sport shoes into must-have items through partnerships with some of the biggest names in professional sports.

Conclusion

Putting the knowledge of the Brand Septagon into practice will help to differentiate your business. Take the time to score your business or product on the 7 parameters.

 

BrandIQ is a series by Alder Consulting on why you should brand yourself or company.

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.