A couple months ago we launched the FutureCo. podcast series, with the intention of highlighting the companies and individuals who are redefining the business that they are in, and perhaps even an industry.
The term FutureCo. refers to these brands and business in particular. It refers to those who are imagining new realities, realising the potential of these realities and turning potential into capacity. FutureCo’s are at the forefront of change.
So, perhaps now after a handful of episodes, we could share a few learnings that have emerged over the past months.
Firstly, we want to thank all the guests we’ve had on the podcast so far. We are fortunate enough to know some very talented and forward-thinking, FutureCo-oriented people. One of these people is Niklas Madsen from Superlab. Speaking to Madsen was insightful and most of all fun, which is always at the core of what Superlab do and I’m sure he will be delighted to hear that sort of feedback.
When asked what it is specifically that Superlab does, and how he would describe the business that the company is in, Madsen answered with a curious approximation. “We are somewhat of a product development company, but what we develop is not defined.” Regardless of the work they do, there is always a very distinct culture of fun which Madsen himself very much represents.
Superlab’s debut book Playful Office – or as it’s better described on the works’ website, “a meticulously compiled collection of research, observations, interviews and a lot of experience” – encapsulates the essence of the company. We were able to draw several parallels between the phenomena described in Playful Office and what we encounter in our day-to-day work. Namely, the significance of internal culture for any successful business. Not exactly revolutionary, but of the utmost relevance for any organisation.
For Alexander Matt, CMO of Fiskars Corporation and our guest on Episode 5, getting culture right was imperative to launching Levi’s Skateboarding. Matt was a key figure in the successful launch of the sub-brand, one which was a totally new enterprise for the brand.
“First of all we surrounded ourselves with right people. I had a really small team, but everyone we worked with spoke the cultural language,” says Matt. By cultural language Matt refers to that of the skateboarding community – it’s a language that every brand should share with their consumers.
Culture is ultimately based on shared understanding. It’s based on a set of values and beliefs that manifest as mindsets and behaviours across a group of people. A brand is no different. Often for brands, these values and beliefs are both implicitly and explicitly outlined in a strategy.
The extent of such strategies becomes apparent in Episode 4 when we spoke to Cameron Murphy, Community Manager at Audiodraft, a company providing audio branding and music strategy services. It might not be something consumers consider consciously every time they hear a soundbite associated with a brand, but audio is becoming an increasingly vital touchpoint. And, yet another opportunity to speak a shared cultural language with consumers.
Increasingly many brands are doing precisely that which has been discussed above. And that’s great to see.
However, having said all this, and despite Peter Drucker’s best efforts, we still see too many cases where strategy has not eaten culture for breakfast. Far too often there is a lingual disconnect between strategy and culture, be that the internal culture of a business, or, the consumer space within which a brand desires to be affective.
As a New Year’s resolution – if you believe in that sort of thing – we would propose committing to learning a new language, the language of your consumers.
Click here and head over to iTunes to listen to all the previous episodes.