Brand Matters: Think Sideways
It’s time to get out. Out of your cubicle. Out of your home office. Out of your company’s groupthink. Out of your industry’s bigger groupthink. Just get out. It’s time to get sideways. You’ll be amazed at what a little outside thinking can do to rattle your inside perspectives.
Did the upside-down ketchup bottle in the fridge door inspire Target’s new color-coded prescription bottles? I will never know for sure, but I do know these product development designers and creators weren’t simply looking at their companies’ previous models and trying to create more of the same. They got out. They looked up. They looked down. They looked sideways. They connected dots from outside their industries and brought that thinking into their own in revolutionary ways.
Author John le Carré wrote: “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.” So, let’s get up and take a walk around a few industries and window-shop into their brands. Let’s see if we can learn a few things we can bring back to our tasks at hand.
For total freedom and independence, there’s nothing like a stop at the local Harley-Davidson dealer to find inspiration. I always have learned a great deal from this brand, and I continue to admire its gusty moves.
Business innovators like Tom Peters, Seth Godin and Mary Lou Quinlan have been advising companies across many spectrums to take women seriously for years. Harley is one that does. While women account for just 12 percent of sales, Harley believes that number has nowhere to go but up.
A few years ago, it started “Garage Parties”—an unusual but contemporary and ingenious twist on Tupperware parties. Harley dedicates a significant part of its Web site to these events and invites women only to these get-togethers, which “offer fun, basic instruction for non-riders who have little—or even no—prior knowledge of motorcycles.” And, most recently, Harley declared this May as the first-ever Women Riders Month, a chance to “honor all the women who enjoy the freedom and adventure found in taking control of their own handlebars.”
Andrea Syverson is the founder and president of creative branding and merchandising consultancy IER Partners. For 20+ years, Andrea’s joy has been inspiring clients with innovative approaches to branding, product development and creative messaging. She’s the author of two books about brand building and creating customer-centric products that enhance brands: BrandAbout: A Seriously Playful Approach for Passionate Brand-Builders and Merchants and ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators. You may reach her at email@example.com.