Posts Tagged ‘changemaker’

I have been working in the industry trying to help SMEs convert their businesses in to brands, or at least take their businesses onto the brand path. I used to think to myself, “Why not?” India is a country full of potential. Manufacturing units, retailers, food and beverage brands, restaurants, hospitality ventures and what not? So when I had to move back to India in 2012, I said let me make it my aim to help small businesses see the bigger picture. I tried pursuing that for several years. However, you can’t really make them see what they don’t. The maximum you can do is seed the idea.

So, the first thing first – the SMEs have to have an ambition to grow bigger than they are. If you are an ambitious business owner then we can help you create a brand. One must know that branding is a process. You need to be thinking through a decade of consistent efforts along with your brand agency. If you are not doing that and just spending money on advertising, random events and exhibitions, let’s face it – you aren’t going to get there!

If you are looking at creating a brand and you are betting at getting there just by buying media spaces, well, you are not going to get there. Reason? Well, because it’s more important what you say in that space and when you say it. If you are looking at converting all of your branding and advertising into immediate sales, well, it’s not going to happen that way.

First, whichever brands you are referring to – be it Nike, Diesel, Nestle, Kellogg’s, Pantene, JW Marriott etc, the key is consistently communicating to their audience through carefully curated communication strategy and media plans. Yes, to put this in place you need a brand agency and a budget. If you or your board is constantly going back and forth cutting the marketing and branding investment (yes, I said investment and not expense), let me tell you there is some rival brand somewhere in making that is going to outnumber you and all that word of mouth that you have been counting upon will be soon vanished in thin air. Let’s not forget the consumer today is faced with many choices and smart advertisers. So, make your choice of a smart may be small/medium size agency and lay out a long-term brand strategy to fulfil your ambitious dream! Bring on the board experts and professionals.

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 “Innovation is the calling card of the future.”

If there is one name that has been revolutionary in the world of furniture for over 70 years, it is IKEA. Being the world’s largest furniture store, IKEA today enjoys the status and reputation of a cult in its domain. An acronym made up of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad (the founder), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up) and Agunnaryd (his village in south Sweden); IKEA has taken furniture making way beyond its basic and plain existence. It has turned it in to a unique process of innovation, functionality and an ode to the modern lifestyle. Let us tell you how it all began.

Mr. Ingvar Kamprad, his vision and the emergence of a brand

Showing the signs of entrepreneurship right from the age of 5, Invgar Kamprad found IKEA at the tender age of 17. He began the venture with the reward money he had received from his father for his success at the school! Isn’t that just fantastic for a teenager when the rest of his friends would have been happy going out clubbing with that money?


Initially, Ingvar’s aim was to sell goods by mail orders. Gradually, he began offering furniture produced by local manufacturers. He then started advertising about these furniture products in his brochure called IKEA News. Following the success and growth of the business, Ingvar came up with the first IKEA catalague in the year 1951 where the focus was entirely on furniture and home furnishing products. These IKEA catalogues today have become almost as iconic as their brand itself is.

IKEA catalogues proved to be a great idea for the brand. The business grew beautifully and by the year 1959, Ingvar Kamprad had 100 employees working for his company that he had started as a teenager.

The Turning Points

  • The arrival of IKEA stores :

By early 1950s, IKEA made a major change in its way of functioning. The culture of doing business by mail order was witnessing a claustrophobic competition. It was deteriorating the overall market experience for both the customers and the business owners. IKEA decided to exit this scene at the right time and decided to create IKEA stores – a permanent and directly accessible space for the customers where they could view the products before purchasing.  This overcame the flaws that business by mail order had.


These stores turned IKEA in to an experience for its customers. Here, the customers got to see and touch the affordable and well-made goods in an actual room setting. This idea proved to be both sensational and successful.

  • FLAT PACKING – an innovative, incredible and ingenious move :

A small problem can give way to a big idea. A consumer who bought one of its wooden tables was finding it difficult to get it in to the car for the transportation. IKEA didn’t let it’s consumer’s issue go unnoticed and instead took revolutionary measures to solve it. They started making furniture which can be unassembled for the transportation purpose and can be assembled later on. Interestingly enough, it also involved the customer in the whole IKEA experience by letting him assemble his furniture on his own. Now, is that not just brilliant?

IKEA – The Furniture Phenomenon

Today, IKEA is more than 70 years old furnishing empire and is still going just as strong. Along with many other things, IKEA is the pioneer of self-serve furniture warehouses. The consumer  just has to decide his budget, select furniture, pack and carry it home. That simple! It has 345 stores across the world in 42 countries(and still counting). It has 150,000 co-workers working under it. Its turn-over has reached the total of 29.2 billion Euros. IKEA magazines have now also been converted in to mobile apps and guess the number of its downloads – it’s 9.7 million! It all sounds so surreal, doesn’t it? Well, hard earned success has its own charm. And, at this point, let us whisper this to you one more time – IKEA was all started by a 17 year old boy with his reward money!

A thing or two to learn from IKEA

What IKEA has offered to its fans/consumers is an intense brand experience. The way the IKEA stores, flat-packing and the self-serve furnishing warehouses have generated more of the consumer’s participation in IKEA ethos, it sums up as an outstanding example of brand immersing. Its casual and friendly connect with its buyers has created an absolutely relatable and enjoyable brand essence. No wonder the buyer gets convincingly hooked on to IKEA in the world filled with many other rivals.


There has always been many names out there who made furniture. But, not everybody could become ‘IKEA’. Why? Well, IKEA never lost its grip on its consistency. Be it its unified way of communication, reinventing itself at the right times or keeping the consumer’s convenience in the centre of everything – it has always maintained its brand perception. It has a knack of keeping its consumer engaged with IKEA by a marketing tool as small as the IKEA catalogues to its latest mobile phone apps. It has always been right on the track when it comes to generating a strong brand recall. Changing times did not matter at all! IKEA never missed out on adding value to the brand experience it offers. And, THAT what makes IKEA what it is today.

“What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us.”
– Ingvar Kamprad

adidasImpossible is nothing, seriously!

Picture this. It is the year 1920. Adolf(Adi) Dassler is just another cobbler living in the town of Herzogenaurach, Germany.  This young boy, all of just 20, also has a passion for running and extreme sports. Lately, something has been hovering over his mind. It is the need that he has spotted in the sports market for better shoes. The shoes that can enhance a sportsman’s performance and can go beyond functionality. And guess how he decides to deal with this need? With whatever knowledge he has as a trained cobbler, plus his experience as a sportsman and that mixed with his passion to bring about the change – Adi himself starts making sports shoes in his mother’s laundry! Today, the world knows what started as an in-house venture as the global giant ‘Adidas’.

Many can make shoes. But it takes vision and passion to turn them in to ‘Adidas’.

Almost a century back, who would have thought that what Adi was making in his mother’s laundry was going to become a game changer?  He wasn’t just making shoes. He was creating a legend. How did that happen? How was he not your regular shoemaker? What did he do so differently than the others that Adidas grew in to a phenomenal brand?

Let’s have a look at what made Adidas, well, Adidas!

  • Spotting the need and addressing it :

Adi Dassler himself was an ardent sportsman. Along with many other entrepreneurs, he too had spotted the need for a better-performing shoes for the sportsmen. The difference between him and those other entrepreneurs was that Adi not only spotted the need but went that extra mile to address it by making an effort to create those ideal shoes by himself.

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  •  Determination to make it work :

Being a path maker is anything but easy. In Adi’s case it was even trickier as starting this sort of a business in Germany soon after the First World War was not a cakewalk. But it was his determination that made him rise above all the difficulties and continue with his endeavour.

  • Innovating and improvising :

As it was the dark era of post World War I, Adi didn’t have the privilege of availing the ideal material to make his dream shoes. Lack of resources, however, couldn’t bog this tough willed guy down. He tried making shoes out of whatever he could lay his hands on –  parachutes, army helmets etc! This outstanding creativity and never-say-die attitude kept his business going. It also indirectly refined Adi’s vision to develop the perfect running shoes.

  • Making it effective and result oriented :

As smart and focused as he was about his venture, Adi always kept himself in constant contact of many of the world’s best athletes. It made him understand their requirements and enabled him to perfect different shoes for a variety of sports. For example, In 1954, Adidas came out with shoes for the German football team. These shoes had screw-in studs, a first-time feature at that time. This feature made the German players get a strong grip during a match while running on the wet ground on a rainy day. It actually made the German team win against Hungary and these shoes came in limelight all over the world overnight.

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  •  Smart, fearless and unique ways of marketing:

Adi was always so confident and proud of his products that marketing them boldly and aggressively came quite naturally to him. By 1936, majority of the German athletes used to wear Adidas. This also made Adi realize that athletes themselves were the best advertisements for the products. In fact, Adidas marked the beginning of the concept of sports promotion and endorsement that exists today.

  • Expansion :

By the time Adi passed away in the year 1978, Adidas had 700 patents and other industrial property rights under its umbrella. It had also pushed boundaries of its reign by its global expansion in to new product lines like leisure and clothing sector, apparels, sports accessories etc.

A thing or two to learn from Adidas

What kept Adidas a consistent brand was the clarity of vision of the owner as well as the alignment of the product with his vision. The basic idea behind the product that the shoes should protect the athletes from injury and that they should last; created such a pioneering brand promise in those times that it changed the consumer’s perception forever. The credit of inventing something as revolutionary as brand endorsement also goes to Adidas.


When you have vision, vigour and the right product; all you need is that determined push to widen your reach. A wider reach that you so aptly deserve. Your product can be that one thing that refines the way the world lives. What follows after that is an eternal glory. Ask Adi if you don’t believe us!

“You need good thinkers around you. Without them, you will go broke.”
– Adolf Dassler