Brand Builders - Key to Success

Product & Service Innovation - Ep 05

The last area in terms of our brand development cycle, is what we call product and service innovation, making sure you’re staying ahead of the game. This is a point at which you need to analyse your product and service on a consistent basis in order to constantly assess whether it’s first of all, giving your customers what they want and what they need at the best value possible.

Secondly that you’re still competitive, that you’re still outdoing your competition. It can be anything from giving customers the option of adding their own personal touch to a pair of sneakers [Nike] or making Wifi available on aeroplanes [Virgin Atlantic], whatever you go for, its very important to expand your scope to beyond just the physical product.

Marius: 00:00 Morning Kyle.

Kyle: 00:03 Morning Marius.

Marius: 00:04 Kyle, we've been talking about brands, brand engineering and brand mentoring and so on. We're back with this morning and I've got a question for you. Now that we've established this wonderful brand and it's up and going, the team is in it and everybody's on the same page and so on. Do we then go and sit still and leave this thing to grow by itself or do we need to do a bit of innovation after that? Do we need to get on with it or do we leave it as it is?

Kyle: 00:39 Well, just like you would need to nurture something to grow, you need to nurture your brand. So it's something that you need to consistently work on. When we talk to our clients about brand development we talk about a cycle. There needs to be a consistent cycle of doing activity to building your brand. The one thing I said to one of our clients once is that, the one thing that I would say defines people is the difference between good and great, is what I call itchy feet. The really great business people and entrepreneurs are never satisfied, they're never happy. It doesn’t mean when I say happy, I'm not talking about in terms of their satisfaction but, how they always feel like it could be better or it could be improving. There could be something that they could be working on. The brands that are out there and are doing really well are the brands that are never satisfied. They're always just going out there and doing something new. That's why we, in terms of our focus on brand development, talk about building that cycle into your business by making it a habit to talk about your brand on a consistent basis.

Marius: 01:43 Ja, you know we get to a point where we all think we've worked hard enough now. This thing is going on and it looks like it's got a life of its own but then it comes to service again. One little incident of bad or poor service, after all has been said and done, that brings you back actually, just to square one again.

Kyle: 02:07 100%. That's why in terms of the way we look at your brand development cycle, you're going to look at your branding and your marketing for the stuff that people see and hear. Then the next thing you do is look at your brand culture, so the culture of your team and that they’re onboard and everyone's behind it. Then your customer experience, which your service plays a bigger role. Depending on the type of business, customer experience will have a different effect on your brand. The last area in terms of our cycle that we talk about, is what we call product and service innovation. That is a case of analysing your product and your service on a consistent basis to constantly assess whether it’s first of all, giving your customers what they want and what they need at the best value possible. Secondly that you’re still competitive, that you’re still outdoing your competition. So one of the first things we talk about is consistently looking at your competition. Getting into a cycle of, once a year or once a quarter, going out there and looking at what your competition are doing. What are the products they're bringing out? What is the service that they're doing? How are they doing something? Because maybe if you’ve a got product business, you’ll think of innovation purely in terms of the product itself or the features of the product but, innovation can expand beyond how the product is actually delivered to the customer or packaged. For example, with one of our clients who are in meat industry, we’re talking about how some of the supermarkets sell you the bulk packs of meat but the meat is all together in one plastic packet. I'm never gonna eat 5kg of mince in one sitting. That’s making it just that little bit more convenient. It literally adds R1 to the cost of the packet but, to the convenience value of the customer, it is so much more. This means you most probably would be able to charge a little bit more. Perhaps R5 or R10 a packet of that R1 of extra packaging costs but, the value to the customer is so much more.

So when I talk about product and service innovation, its very important to expand your scope beyond just the physical product. [overtalk]
One other great example of how product or service innovation can happen is Nike. Nike will give you the option, in certain of their models, to design your own shoe. So you can go and select a shoe and you can select the colour of the shoe laces, the colour of the sole that you want, certain various aspects. What colour do you want for the tick? Do you want your name embroidered on the back of the shoe? You’re charged a little bit more but, what it does for the brand because what people do is design their own shoes. They want to now brag about their design. So they go online and they take photos and there are whole Instagram pages and groups are dedicated to specific models of shoes where people are sharing their designs. So that's a great example of how product innovation can actually boost your marketing because people start to share about it. This is a space where you’ve got to be listening to your customer. You’ve got to know what your competition is doing. And then thirdly, you’ve got to look at being brave, being creative and thinking out of the box in terms of your product. Rather, you should properly investigate something before you completely dismiss it right away.

Marius: 05:53 That's true. I remember somebody saying a while ago. Just like athletes. They stand in a line. So you look left and right and be better and work harder than the guy next to you. In business, I suspect it's going to be the same thing. You have to look to the left and to the right, to see what your competition is doing. If you can find a more innovative way of doing something you're going to be better than them. It’s one of those things that you have to keep in mind moving forward. You can't just leave it.

Kyle: 06:30 Yes, for sure. I think that magic comes in the combination of looking at your competition and your customer at the same time. When you do both at the same time, that's where I find that the magic happens. If you look at a unique example of this is Apple, they did that. They looked at their competition and their customer at the same time. So if they've looked purely at their competition, they would have looked at just making a better product than what their competition put out. They made sure they did that. Plus they looked at what the customer would need and would want and what they then did, if you want to use the race analogy, they created their own lane all together. That means that you couldn't really compete with them directly because they made their own lane altogether.

So that for me, is the boat. If you solely look at being a little bit better than your competitor, you're always going to be looking and chasing something. However, if you're looking at both your customer and competitor, that becomes something else. When I say look at your customer, you have to think about them, the future and where they're going. You should know what customers want and need. Consider the big and small things that are driving them within your own space. So for example, Virgin did an analysis of people that were using an airline. They looked at all the things that they hate and one of the things that people hate about flying with airlines is that they felt like it was a depressing experience. Typically, a lot of people are flying late at night or really early in the morning. If you're flying across time zones, you're tired. If you have a connecting flight you’ve been on another flight for a number of hours so, overall it is just a tiring experience. There's nothing they can do about making the flight between one destination and other destination substantially shorter. The technology is fundamentally everyone’s using. What they can do is, they can make all the little things that annoy you as nice as possible. So, they were the first people where could check-in online and pre-book your baggage in so, that you don’t have to stand in the queue. They were the first people to bring Wifi onto aeroplanes.

They even looked at the lighting on their planes to see how it affected people's mood. Funny enough, they made the inside lighting of their planes purple. What they discovered was that for some reason, we believe we are better looking under purple light. We feel better about ourselves and other people look better in purple light. There are quite a few scientific studies around this and they have found that purple light made people feel sexy and that also speaks to the Virgin brand as well. Then they said their marketing was almost automatic because when they were the first people to bring out WiFi, everyone talked about having Wifi on a Virgin flight. That for me is the magic of when you really want to look at a fully integrated brand, a brand where it's not just nice advertising and marketing, not just nice packaging but that the product is the same, everything's pointing in the same direction. Then you can have this really great experience and your competition won't be able to touch you.

Marius: 09:58 Absolutely. I need to ask a question before the final question. We in the platteland so to speak, specifically in Middleburg, these things that you talk about in terms of innovation in your business, service delivery, getting the whole team onboard etc, building that brand. Do you think we on the platteland suffer from the syndrome that we on the platteland so we can rather do what we like and we can do what we want. It's not going to make a big difference. I think that when you start thinking that way you've lost the plot altogether already.

Kyle: 10:36 Yeah, I think that organisational brand culture is so critical in terms of building a brand. The first requirement for having a brand is to have a vision and that vision should never be limited by where you come from or where you’re located. Some of the world's biggest brands, the most valuable brands came from very small towns in very obscure places of the world. The thing is that these guys had a passion for what they were doing. They had a passion for the problem that they were solving for customers. I think if you have that, there must be something good about where you guys are from. I'm sure there is. It must be something good about the culture. For example, I watched this little video on Australia. They did this whole thing about bringing the Australian culture into the marketing of their tourist industry. We can not pretend to be something that we're not so we're going to bring in all those little colloquial sayings like "Good day mates" and all that kind of stuff into our marketing and advertising. That is what people will really experience. They wanted to make people feel welcome, which they felt like they could do really well and their marketing was really effective. Their tourism went up as a result of them being true to who they were and saying what makes Australia special being the people. We can bring this magic.

I think overall South Africa is actually a very hospitable country despite all our problems and the violence and everything else. If you talk to the average South African, I think they're really hospitable people.  So to be honest with you, and when you get through that and if you look at the world cup and how it wasn’t like people said that their experience in Pretoria or Jo’burg was great and the experience out in country was bad. There was stadia all over the country. I think that I have found that it doesn't matter where someone's located. If the location is an excuse or a crutch, it's a cultural problem. It’s a problem with the way that people are thinking, not about where they come from. Clients will say, well I'm from Benoni or I'm from the East Rand so how far could I get in life. I would say, well if you've got that attitude then you're never going to get anywhere. I have a really great client that is super successful and they started their business in the middle of a township and that business is still thriving. It does really really well. You can go there on any weekend and see a Lamborghini parked outside in front. They are thriving. If they had the attitude of, we're just from the township and we're not going to make anything of ourselves, then they wouldn't be where they are today.

Marius: 13:29 Fantastic. I think you're mentioning a place that makes a Shisanyama, if I'm not mistaken.

Kyle: 13:34 That's correct.

Marius: 13:35 Nevertheless, Kyle Rolfe, brand engineer at Idea Power. Kyle, we're looking forward to talking to you again next week.

Kyle: 13:41 Thank you Marius.