How to grow (better)

On 25 October we held our first summit on brand growth, ‘How to grow and change the game’. This video is the third in a series showing the highlights of the day.

In the part of the day entitled “how to grow better” Simon Tucker of the Young Foundation, Kate Raworth of Oxfam, Lily Cole of Impossible and Samantha Mangwana of the Fawcett Society discuss how to grow better. The discussion is facilitated by Robert Jones, visiting professor at University of East Anglia and Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins.

Watch earlier videos in the series here:

How to grow - overview

How to grow - everywhere

How to grow - everyday

How to grow everywhere

On 25 October we held our first summit on brand growth, ‘How to grow and change the game’. This video is the second in a series showing the highlights of the day. 

In the part of the day entitled “how to grow everywhere” Allan Pamba of GSK, Frederik Ottesen on Little Sun and James Turner of Dyson discuss how to reach new customers in new places. The discussion is facilitated by Robert Jones, visiting professor at University of East Anglia and Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins.

Watch an earlier video in the series here: How To Grow - overview

How to grow (and change the game)

On 25 October we held our first summit on brand growth, ‘How to grow and change the game’. Over the next three weeks we’ll be posting a series of videos looking at the summit’s three themes: how to grow by being everywhere, how to grow by becoming everyday and how to grow better.

The film below is an overview of the day told, in part, through your tweets. Enjoy!

How to grow and change the game - overview from Wolff Olins on Vimeo.

Twenty ways to grow

By Robert Jones

On Thursday 25 October Wolff Olins held its first brand summit, “How to Grow and change the game”- an event that welcomed twelve speakers from some of the UK’s most progressive brands and over sixty guests from great established brands and innovative start-ups.

The summit revealed a host of game-changing ways to spark growth. Here are my top twenty things I learned from the panelists at yesterday’s How to Grow event at Wolff Olins in London.

Getting everywhere

1. Be a start-up – however old or young you are (EE, Dyson, Little Sun, GlaxoSmithKline)

2. Don’t chase the money, let the money find you (GlaxoSmithKline)

3. Take a hit on profit in the short term, to create long-term market growth (GlaxoSmithKline)

4. Be hated as well as loved – the deepest responses are created by brands that polarize opinion (Dyson, Little Sun)

5. Enjoy inventive competitors, but not mere copy-cats (Dyson, Little Sun)

6. Use tech to outsmart the counterfeiters (GlaxoSmithKline)

7. Change the model – whatever market you’re entering, do things very differently and (through design) much better (Dyson, Little Sun)

Becoming everyday

8. To earn a place in consumers’ daily lives, understand those lives (Faber, National Trust, Skype, Virgin Media)

9. Be canny about free – make sure there’s a strategic dose of free stuff in what you offer (Virgin Media, Skype, National Trust)

10. Use ‘social’ literally – events where you meet your consumers face-to-face (Faber)

11. Use ‘social’ virtually – the fastest way to learn about the good and the bad from your consumers (Virgin Media, National Trust, Skype)

12. Adopt the latest tech – but give consumers a choice to use the gadgets that work best for them (Skype, Faber)

13. If you have content, make it as widely available as you can (Faber, National Trust)

14. Stay restless (Faber, National Trust, Skype, Virgin Media)

Growing better

15. Go beyond the fashionable idea of ‘exchange’ (of goods or skills) and think about ‘giving’ (Impossible)

16. To get things done, match ‘bees’ (small, buzzy organisations) with ‘trees’ (big, rooted ones) (Young Foundation)

17. Offer your employees shared parental leave, to help both women and men climb the career ladder (Fawett Society)

18. And get more women at the top of your business (Fawcett Society)

19. Plan your business to operate within the ‘doughnut’ (maximizing social impact while minimizing environmental harm) (Oxfam)

20. Be optimistic (Fawcett Society, Impossible, Oxfam, Young Foundation)

Robert Jones is visiting professor at University of East Anglia and Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins. 

Invisible hand 2.0

By Robert Jones

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Jonathan needed to move some arts-and-crafts furniture. He found a website called Anyvan. Sounds mundane – but actually this service represents a reinvention of classical capitalism. How?

240 years ago, the economist Adam Smith imagined an ‘invisible hand’. In his book The Wealth of Nations, he said that the market forces that create growth would also magically create good social impact. It would be as if an invisible hand was directing economic activity in a positive direction.

The banking crisis means that few now believe this.

So what’s the alternative to full-on market capitalism?

One possible answer is to go back to the state capitalism of the pre-Thatcher/Regan years. State capitalism is still around in continental Europe, and it’s the dominant model in many of the newly-emerged economies. This model may be better at creating equality, though even that is arguable. It’s certainly no better at, for example, protecting the environment.

Or is there a spread of ground-up alternatives?

Instead of consumption, resource sharing: new enterprises like airbnb, WhipCar, Zopa.

Instead of rich-world businesses making money out of the poor world, new models like Little Sun.

Instead of conventional working, volunteering: through new businesses like The Amazings and Impossible, or through long-standing movements like the National Trust.

Instead of the public company, the co-operative: retailers like John Lewis, or industrial groups like Mondragon.

Instead of short-termist, greedy capitalism, new rules like those proposed by Richard Branson’s B team.

One thing all these examples have in common is that they’re cleverly branded. They all understand that branding is about purpose, and that you can build an alternative kind of business by sharing that purpose widely and compellingly.

Our bet is this combination of new ideas, large and small, is the better way.

And technology now makes it easier than ever for large numbers of people to come together and achieve something that’s positive, both commercially and socially.

At #HowToGrow, you’ll hear more about Little Sun, National Trust, Impossible and more.

But an even simpler example is AnyVan. If you need to move something, you post your requirement, and van owners pitch to do your job. The best price, backed up by the best recommendations, wins. Vans that would have returned from a job empty can now pick up another job and go home full. Everyone saves or makes money, resources are better deployed, and less diesel gets used up.

You could say that brand-led, tech-infused services like this are the new form of the invisible hand.

Robert Jones is visiting professor at University of East Anglia and Head of New Thinking at Wolff Olins.

To be part of our unique conversation on growth, join the summit LinkedIn group. Or follow our twitter stream #HowToGrow. For more information visit How To Grow.

How to become everyday

By Morgan Holt

The year is drawing in, and as it gets colder we find ourselves reaching for the Kleenex. And if you can’t find a Chapstick, often Vaseline will do just as well.
Being everyday is the jackpot for brands, so how does a modern brand win that elusive prize of being on everybody’s lips?

Despite what some agencies try to convince their clients, no one person or company is telling the mass market what a branding word will be – any more than you can commission a ‘viral’ video. (It’s a video. Viral just means ‘popular’ and the only person who decides that is the customer.)

But what clearly stands out this past decade is the shift from passive consumption to active consumption. Twenty years ago a marketing department could create a message, add a sprinkle of creative, and pump it out on channels of their choosing.
Branding was more passive then. Products were put on a pedestal and presented in a regal and timely fashion. Success was when people wanted a ‘thing’. A Frisbee, a Coke, a Jacuzzi. Success was a noun.

These days, brands come alive by being used. They are carried and passed on. Their passage is owned by customers, not by brand police. They are rewarded for being portable. For adding to the electricity of a person’s life through the activities that the brand helps them to do, or do better.

Success in the modern age is a verb. We Google and Skype. We look people up by Facebooking them, often to find thattheir profile picture has been Photoshopped. So then for fun we Pin it and tweet about it.

Being everyday cannot be guaranteed and you shouldn’t let any agency tell you they have a secret sauce that promises your popularity. Least of all trying to hastily force your name to look like a ‘doing word’ without changing your brand experience to fit.

But one thing you can definitely say is that if you’re not doing something, if you’re not putting activity and usefulness into your customers’ lives, then you cannot be everyday. You cannot be the Verb you want to be.

Morgan Holt is a senior strategist and principal at Wolff Olins. He is also a faciliatator at How To Grow and change the game, Wolff Olins summit on growth.

Morgan Holt is a senior strategist at Wolff Olins London.

To be part of our unique conversation on growth, join the summit LinkedIn group. Or follow our twitter stream #HowToGrow. For more information visit How To Grow.


Blog: How To Grow

and change the game

We are excited to announce ‘how to grow (and change the game)' our one-day summit exploring game-changing new ways to spark commercial growth and growth for positive impact. 

Around 60 brand leaders are coming together at Wolff Olins in London on 25 October 2012, in a day that will be useful, spirited and fun.

The day starts with a beginning: a keynote speech on a new brand launch that for the moment is still highly confidential.

Then the morning session looks at how to grow everywhere – how to reach new customers in new places. There’ll be practical workshops, followed by a live debate, with experts from large commercial organisations like GlaxoSmithKline and small start-ups like Little Sun, which is getting light to the billions who still live without electricity.

Lunch is by Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett.

After lunch, we’ll explore how to grow everyday – how to find a bigger role in people’s lives. We’ll be learning from familiar yet innovative players like National Trust and Faber and from newer businesses like Skype and Spotify who have already claimed a place in the lives of millions. Again, there’ll be a mixture of debate and practical workshops.

The days ends with a forum on how to grow better – how to build something that can last, avoiding the mistakes of the last decade. We’ll have campaigner and actress Lily Cole, social innovators the Young Foundation and a very special guest.

And during the day, we’ll all be collaborating to devise a launch a new social business, from scratch.

We’ll be streaming the day live, and creating a Vimeo channel with all the content.

This will be the most exciting, challenging and stimulating one-day event of the year, answering the most pressing question of the decade: how to grow.

Email us to register for the 25 October 2012 event at