How Betabrand gets amazing customer engagement

Love this!  US online clothing retailer Betabrand offers instant discounts to customers in return for their pictures  in Betabrand clothes and accessories, simple enough – This example gets it right on every level – lovely tone of voice and personality -collections of great pictures  in their Wall of Fame Model Citizen section- this is the best example of brand fans I have seen in a while. It is also a clear example of how important and ‘sticky’ user generated content can be, and how to make your customers work for you in the online space.

Betabrand have really got the  language right too. I  love their ‘Model Citizen’ concept to house all the pictures!

They ask for weird and whacky and they get it!

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Innovation wise, this is an example of a brand really thinking about how to engage in conversation with it’s fans online. They have spent time understanding how customers can be advocates and are generous enough to allow their fans space to share their own stuff on  site too…they mean it, and that all adds to the love-in.

Calling the section Model Citizen, tongue in cheek and playful and celebrating the Wall of Fame works.

Celebrating those who celebrate you is a top tip when it comes to customer experience innovation.

How good are you at recognising the people who love your brand /product ? How easy is it for them to engage and publicise their enthusiasm  on your site ?  How many clothing brands do you know who’d have  a picture of a kid in a green onesie sporting a pair of their up market sun glasses  ?

Check the images out on Betabrand’s Model Citizen section. See what happens when you relax the brand control uptightness a bit, relinquishing a bit of that ‘control’ can pay back in spades.

Betabrand Customers in their clothing  -

Betabrand Customers in their clothing –

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Posted in Case Studies, Customer Experience, Innovation

Chapter 4: Of Innovation, Intuition and Imposters: Intangible Vulnerabilities in the Brains of Great Leaders (Pages 91-101)

Love this, the power of semantics as a barrier and a boon to innovators.

The Management Library

Personal take-aways:

Making “problems” part of innovation appears to be a substantial mindset change to discover new solutions. Knowing that a problem is something “normal” will relax people to take their time to find the similarities across great semantic differences. The saying “just give it time” makes even more sense now. This goes hand in hand with other topics discussed in other parts of the book; a focus change away from the perception that a problem is something negative towards something positive: that a problem is one way of innovation calling to be discovered. 

It also seems to be important to have created a context for innovation in terms of the company culture. Although the book doesn’t specifically state it that way, but the fact that there may be tensions between madness and creativity, might explain the following thought process: “I don’t want to sound like a fool in front…

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How to Innovate with Pubic Hair: American Apparel

It would be churlish not to comment on US clothing retailer American Apparel ‘s decision to ‘shock’ using mannequins with full pubic hair. Seen here sporting a rather large ‘bush’ showing through flimsy undergarments, this plastic lady and her plastic friends have been seen across select AA US store window displays.

Personally, I love it.  Interesting that something so, shall we say, ubiquitous can be used to such great PR effect. Simple, cheap to do, massive PR, what’s not to like ?

From an innovation perspective, this example teaches there is value in revisiting taboos. It encourages us not to feel like we have to beat the marketing teams of our competitors by playing according to category or advertising rules and mores.

I am not saying massive ‘bush in-ya-face’ is the best tactic for a fashion brand, nor that shock tactics are always a great plan, but this American Apparel stunt certainly got buzz  and  let’s face it, the story adds a degree of interest to what is otherwise a black and white box selling sweat tops and casual gear.

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Why celebrating failure is important for innovation

So the blogosphere is all over GoogleX, the skunkworks ‘hub’ where only the most intractable and real problems make the cut for an ambitions group of moon-seekers – and a place where they celebrate and relish failure.

The idea that failure is good for innovation is of course nothing new; we have been banging on about celebrating failure for years. Those of us who know what it feels like to have messed up big time, or seen a dream project slip sulkily down the drain of lost hope know it is easier said than done. It is only a properly innovative, grown up company ( note: not necessarily a large one) that actually manages to deal with this stuff, never mind celebrating it. I applaude Google for making their failures as much a story as their new ( and utterly incredible) intelligent contact lenses!

Fast Company way back in 2005, cited some excellent examples of failure and its importance to innovation: from Brit James Dyson, to Italian design icon Alberto Alessi , I love their list of those who manage and flourish in the face of failure.

I particularly rate the quote from legendary sculptor Henry Moore  who said: ‘The secret of life is to have a task, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for your whole life. And the most important thing is: It must be something you cannot possibly do.’ Now there’s a challenge to innovate if ever I saw one!

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What Eric Schmidt says about Innovation- Davos 2014

Innovation and adapting to new technology heralds the end of the 9-5 job according to Google’s Eric Schmidt speaking at Davos this week. He notes this as a real challenge for advanced economies looking to create jobs. Interesting stuff. Is innovation by SMEs and Entrepreneurs enough ? Read more from Eric at Davos 2014 here.

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Amazing logistics lessons from Mumbai Dabawallahs

An incredible logistics story from Mumbai’s legendary Dabawallahs. In his TED talk Dr Pawan Agrawal explains how this Indian group rivals the likes of DHL …..many hail from the same village and they deliver hundreds and thousands of tiffin boxes daily to Mumbai workers. Dr Agrawal reveals the secrets that won  this awesome team accolades from Forbes. Their Dabawallah Code and the secret of their success is based on centuries old traditions. They recruit on enthusiasm and their delivery output and efficiency is something many Blue Chips only dream of.

From an innovation perspective, looking at related worlds, other cultures and sectors can often yield fruitful stimulus to apply to your own.

Tiffin and tea anyone ?

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Posted in Case Studies, Customer Experience, Innovation, Retail Innovation

What is a database of millions of human feelings ?

We Feel Fine is a wonderful project scraping millions of human feelings from the web, curated in what started as an art project and has blossomed into a book, TED talks, APIs and an inspirational journey. I love this innovative take on the implications of new technology and the lens it provides on some of life’s fundamentals.

I love the audacity of their mission and the output is intriguing and creative. Emotions are ‘curated’ into 6 ‘Movements’ – madness, murmurs, montage, mobs, metrics and mounds – not a bad taxonomy.

As they say, the We Feel Fine project is emergent and it changes as we all change, ‘an artwork authored by everyone’ . Big up to founders Jonathan Harris and Sep Kanvar.

Check them out at We Feel Fine 

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