Think out of the box… Just don’t lose the box (part 2)

This is part of a series of posts related to our Wolff Olins Entrepreneur initiative. Read the last post here.

By Rana Brightman, Strategist at Wolff Olins London

What does brand mean to a start-up? Well, some see it as expensive marketing stuff that only big names with big bucks buy into. While others, particularly those going through rapid growth, see it as a valuable business tool that can propel them forward. With WO Entrepreneur, we are trying to build a timely response to this by collaborating with start-ups to understand how our expertise is most relevant and valuable to their business. TechHub have been a great partner on this journey. As a start-up themselves, they’re in their second year and growing pretty quickly, but the success they’ve achieved is a lot of hard work and hardly the norm. Interestingly, it is easier than ever to start a business today, yet over a third of UK businesses shut shop within a mere three years. The reasons for this vary, but one of the biggest common themes is the failure to operationalise the business and streamline the brand with a viable business model. In other words, seeing a bigger picture and the strategic direction of your business needs to be grounded in some very specific levers.

One tool that really gives a holistic view and can help start-ups keep their sights on where they are going is the Business Model Canvas. It’s a practical framework that helps map out all the elements that come together to make up a business model, from identifying customer segments and revenue streams to defining the type of customer relationship and key partnerships the business depends on. At its heart is the value proposition, the basis of all successful brands and what all businesses, whether newbies like TechHub or old-timers like Microsoft, should work towards defining and delivering. At the end of the day, it is hard to do your own thing – yet, defining your role and value to customers defines the viability of your entire business model going forward.

The Business Model Canvas is free to see and download here, do check it out.

Next time, visual expression.







Could Gap’s current problem become its saving grace?

Gap is looking to reconnect with today’s customer and become even more relevant. It needs to offer customers something that’s different, like the SoCal youth of Hollister or the edgy attitude of All Saints.

 Gap has been about all-American basics and, in recent years, brands like American Apparel have done basics in a fun and sexy way. But are we tiring of the ‘all-American’ story? Gap needs more than just iconic American style to get people excited.

 Crowd-sourcing new ideas in the wake of such heavy criticism could be their saving grace but co-creating logos feels so limiting in the grand scheme of collaboration.

 By engaging in dialogue with the customer, Gap has a real opportunity to get under the skin of its brand and its customer, right now it doesn’t seem to know or understand them. This co-creation shouldn’t be just about logos but about its role in people’s lives.

 It would be great to see this project go beyond image and start to act as a platform for participation, from create your own iconic t-shirts through to suggestions for future collaborations. Gap has a heritage in doing so with designers like Valentino and ranges like [RED] so there is something to build on and take further.

 It’s time for Gap to be bold and brave with its future. It needs to stand out confidently with a new story to tell. Today’s news of Gap scrapping the logo shows a brand that is willing to engage and listen to its customers. After all in today’s world brand is less about what you say and more about what Google says it is. Some may argue the move has damaged their brand and its credibility in social media but by acting quickly they have an opportunity to do something more valuable than a logo competition.

(Rana Khodadoust) @rana_banana

Nike does it again. This is the most indulgent ad yet and BOY does it whip up a buzz for what we hope will be a thrilling World Cup tournament.

Just over 3 minutes of pure genius, belief and passion. We can worship the skill of our heroes and be inspired by their motivations and dreams. 

This Nike talking to us at its best. 



It’s Friday…. It’s Google Wave time!

Check out this brilliant video. Perhaps not how one would use this great new communication and collaboration tool but great fun nonetheless.

Whoever pulled it together has some skills. And what a movie too. Ah… love it!

(Rana Khodadoust)

Free or Paid for?

I remember the freesheet wars a few years back when Londoners welcomed two new players to the freesheet market. It was a monopoly the Metro newspaper, London’s first freesheet, had enjoyed for far too long. What a media frenzy and what chaos outside the train and tube stations.

On Friday 18th September Londoners said goodbye to one of those new players, a News International title, the Londonpaper. I have to say out of the three it was probably my favourite. The layout, the news snippets, the trashy celeb column and the style sections rocked. But for bosses at News International, things weren’t so great. With distribution just over 500K (against the Metro’s 1.3m) the paper was reportedly losing its publishers £10million a year it was time to shut shop.

The closure of the londonpaper came at the time when News International announced their strategy to start charging for online content that has so far been available for free. From June 2010 titles such as The Times will charge users for their news, features and more.

So what do we think about the end of free content? I for one think if it’s worth it, people will pay. We’ve enjoyed over a decade of free stuff and now we’re drowning in so much free we don’t know the good from the mediocre but at least we expect the great from something we pay for and I believe publishers have understood this. I’d expect News International have thought long and hard about ways to offer high quality, super relevant and valuable content and services to readers once they start charging.

Today the Evening Standard, the capital’s only paid for newspaper, announced it will start charging zero to readers. Previously part of Associated Newspapers Group, sister to another freesheet, London Lite but now under new Russian owners it has decided to take on the freesheet market head on. So as one goes paid for, the other goes free. Interesting huh?

So what next for publishing? Is the future free or a combination of both?

(Rana Khodadoust)

Celebrating the source

So Cadbury’s have now decided to go one step further with their Dairy Milk ads and have released their first ever single, along with a full-length music video (see above).

I’m surprised more brands haven’t released more music. I can only think of Levis with Flat Eric … there must be some others. Always strikes me that brands with great stories can do more to spread the word and celebrate what’s special about them.

Anyways, back to this one. The video and track are as random and wonderful as ‘Gorilla’ and ‘Eyebrows’. Full of optimism, joy and cheekiness… music is a big part of the Dairy Milk expression but this time it’s not classics from Phil Collins or Queen.

'Glass and a Half Full' Productions have teamed up with Ghanian superstar Tinny to create ‘Zingolo’. A track that very much captures the heart and soul of Ghanian music and culture. The idea is about celebrating Dairy Milk’s Fairtrade status… didn’t even know it was Fairtrade…. as well as Ghana, the heart of their Fairtrade cocoa.

All profits from the single will go to CARE International, a charity that will fund education programmes in cocoa communities in Ghana.

Chocolate as a force for good? Sounds yummy!

(Rana Khodadoust)