As I read Rich Karlgaard’s Innovation Rules column in the Feb 28th Forbes, a few thoughts were flying around in my head. Some companies did indeed flourish, take root, etc. during past recessions and I am sure the same will be true as we emerge from the current one. Rich has ten tips for what the winners do right instead of focusing on what the losers didn’t do or did wrong. I could not agree more with his focus. But it is not just about what they did right, it is also very much about the attitude and the mindset of those companies. I also believe this does not just apply to a company and it’s products, at a personal level these tips can help improve the success of BrandMe† (our personal brand) as well. So, to Rich’s list of 10 tips, I’d like to add a few modifiers and an additional tip.
1) The first one is an adjunct to “Design”; You Can’t Innovate Like Apple, but you should try. The link above is to a great article I read some time ago in an issue of Pragmatic Marketing. I kept the issue and revisit it time and again to remind myself of what it takes to make great products.
2) I consider this next point part of both “Brand” and “Purpose”; I don’t know where I got this from, but I live by it. I reinforce this message with employees, peers and my children whenever it’s seems an appropriate teaching moment. If you don’t put enough of yourself into a project that you can proudly sign your name on it, then don’t bother doing it. Quite frankly it’s the reason I refuse to paint or wallpaper, I suck at both. Our work is our legacy, be it analog, digital, in the kitchen, with power tools, pen and paper, paint, the actual canvas does not matter. When you are through, can you sign your name for all to see, shouting out that this work, my work is an extension of your personal brand?
3) Buck the trend, Invest when things are down. A while back I listened to a podcast out of Stanford, “Forty Years Of Computer Science, A Retrospective”. As part of the podcast, there was some visionary reminiscing of the computer revolution’s early days. One thing in particular stuck with me; during a downturn, when everyone else is cutting back chasing profits, you should be investing for the coming upturn. People are hopeful but tolerant for performance when things are bad, but by investing during the downturn, you can come out faster and stronger, exceeding expectations while others struggle to recover or return to normal. The markets will reward you for this insight.
We should all strive to be the winners, downturn or not. Great brands result from great ideas turned into great products with full support of the company behind them. Let these tips power successful navigation of good times and bad for your brand’s success.
†BrandMe, our personal brand, our self as the product discussed in previous blogs and articles.