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.

Disruptivetechnology

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.

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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.

Alder University | From Start-Up to Top Selling Brand with Limited Financing

In the competition to get the market’s attention for a product or service, fledgling entrepreneurs tend to get pushed to the side walk. Dealing with the cost of production, brand positioning, marketing and other aspects of business growth are difficult tasks that are often shouldered by the entrepreneur (or a small inexperienced team).

Is it really possible to scale up a business without relying on equity investors or hiring (and paying) experienced managers?  Are there other ways to minimise business growth costs?

Leveraging on partnerships

As a start-up business, you will benefit from forging alliances with partners, suppliers and staff. It all depends on your negotiating ability. Putting in place a payment instalment plan with suppliers is a great way to leverage partnerships.  For example, American Greek yoghurt company Chobani negotiated with large supermarkets to pay off slotting fees using sales proceeds during the initial launch.

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You may also negotiate with staff to defer huge salaries for future stock options or the chance to do something innovative and industry defining.

[Lesson: Forging partnerships with your suppliers and staff reduces the cost of business growth]

Brand design aids brand positioning

Design may help you gain the attention of your market and leapfrog competitors. Detailed packaging and appealing content come into play here. An historic example is the innovative move by Apple to create brand distinction in its stores with just a few products on display. According to Tim Kobe, co-founder of Eight Incorporation, an architecture firm that worked on the design of the Apple stores, “Steve Jobs’ perfectionist attention to aesthetics, his decision to lease extremely expensive real estate and his focus on selling just a few consumer Macs resulted in Apple averaging roughly $6,000 in sales per square foot per year”.

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[Lesson: Design differentiation helps you gain attention and leapfrog competitors]

Outsource non-core functions

You may consider outsourcing non-core functions to avoid the cost of specialist skills. An example is the outsourcing of business functions by Daimler AG, owner of Mercedes Benz to Mercedes-AMG GmbH, originally an independent engineering firm specialising in performance improvements for Mercedes vehicles. Both parties maintain their brand identity.

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[Lesson: Maintain your brand essence in the event of outsourcing]

Seek legal protection for your brand

In a business environment where ideas are easily copied, protecting your brand from infringement saves you the cost of a protracted legal battle. In 2000, Dyson Vacuums sued Hoover Company in civil court for patent infringement. Hoover had just released their Triple Vortex bag-less vacuum, which prompted Dyson to sue for patent infringement citing their Dual Cyclone vacuum. Hoover was forced to pull the Triple Vortex from the market.

Hoovers2005_logoversus      dyson logo

[Lesson: An entrepreneur should seek legal protection to safeguard brand assets]

Conclusion

Your ability to grow a start-up without over reliance on external investors (in the form of venture capitalists or strategic investors) gives you space to grow your business at your own pace and without undue influence over your brand. It also reduces the pressure to repay debt from loans.

However, to succeed with this model, you must be disciplined and plough back earnings or profits into your business to facilitate organic growth. As an entrepreneur, you must also be willing to sacrifice personal profit and pay-outs in the short term.

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Alder Case| Kakawa Discount House: Building a B2B Brand through Innovative Marketing

Kakawa Discount House, a financial institution created to provide liquidity to its bank shareholders, operated for many years as a business-to-business (B2B) company. As Kakawa began offering investment products directly to consumers, there was a need for a marketing strategy to promote its new retail focus. Retail Investment services included the sale of treasury bills and other money market investment instruments. Kakawa also spun off an asset management subsidiary – Kakawa Asset Management – to serve both corporate and retail clients. To create a more public persona, Kakawa needed cost-effective marketing that was corporate in outlook yet portrayed accessibility. Alder’s solution was to turn the company’s annual reports into a promotions platform and must-have collector’s items among shareholders and HNIs. That way, Kakawa could transform an existing budget item – its annual reports – into a dual purpose brand communication tool. The annual report design was used for seasonal items such as calendars and notebooks, extending Kakawa’s mind share among prospects and customers.

[Lesson: Existing corporate function materials can be transformed into marketing tools. Have you considered advertising on your letterhead or business card?]

Annual Report Designs Each year, Alder Consulting develops a theme to capture Kakawa’s strategic focus and uses it as a basis for design. The theme, Taking it Further, has become a recurrent slogan in recent years.

Once an overall theme is defined, Alder translates the concept into seasonal materials – calendars and notebooks.

2012 Annual Report Cover Annual Report

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Annual Report Inside Page: Chairman’s Statement

Backup_of_chairmans section

Calendar Cover

calendar cover

Calendar Inside Page

calendar inside page

Notebook

notebook cover only

2011 Annual Report Cover

2011 annual report cover

Annual Report Inside Page: Chairman’s Statement

chairmans section.

2010 Annual Report Cover

2010 calendar cover

Annual Report Inside Page: Chairman’s Statement

kk 2010 chairman

Annual Report Inside Page: Directors’ Report

directors report  section.

Calendar Cover

2010 calendar cover

Calendar Inside Page

2010 calendar inside

2009 Annual Report Cover

2009 annual report cover

2007 Annual Report Cover

2007 annual report cover

Annual Report Inside Page: Chairman’s Statement

2007 chairman's statement

Annual Report Calendar Inside Page

2007 calendar

Notebook

2007 notebook

2006 Annual Report Cover

front page 2006 annual report cover

2005 Annual Report Cover

2005 annual report cover

2001 Annual Report Cover

2001 annual report cover

Other Marketing Communication Materials used by Kakawa

Other materials designed for Kakawa include corporate adverts and financial statements in newspapers.

Corporate Adverts

corporate advert

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Financial Statements

financial advert

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[Lesson: As illustrated by Kakawa Discount House, if a marketing platform is used creatively, it can help the company build brand consistency and reputation. Also, making use of existing function materials reduces cost.]

Copyright Alder Consulting 2013. All Rights Reserved.