Alessi and Apple on innovation

Brands and their beliefs are important to define company culture, more important sometimes are the attitudes of their executives and how they give direction. 

Below are two examples of beliefs that challenged the conventional wisdom and gave new meanings to their product developments and brands.

Below is Alessi's CEO Alberto Alessi's theory on innovation:

We tend always to work, almost spontaneously I would say, in a land inhabited by desires of people, still largely undiscovered... and this, as we know is a zone with high, extremely high turbulence... We walk on the streets that have not yet been opened, on unknown paths to reach the heart of people... We move on enigmatic borderline between what could become real (objects really loved and owned by people) and what will never become real (objects too far from what people are ready and willing to want). This practice of borderline is difficult and risky, and asks for awareness and commitment from each one of us, in each of our roles. Our mission is to stay as close as possible to the borderline, although we know it is not clearly drawn and that there is a risk of going beyond it... but what an emotion when with a new project we get close to it... Mass manufactures keep as far as possible from the borderline because they want to avoid any risk... but in this way, slowly, they all produce the same cars and the same TV's. 

Steve Jobs and his view of customer feedback and product.

My philosophy is that everything starts with a great product. So, you know, I obviously believed in listening to customers, but customers can't tell you about the next breakthrough that's going to happen next year that's going to change the whole industry. So you have to listen very carefully. But then you have to go and sort of stow away -- you have to go hide away with people that really understand the technology, but also really care about the customers, and dream up this next breakthrough. And that's my perspective, that everything starts with a great product.

Life is beautiful and life goes on.

Life is beautiful and life goes on.
We live in a world that is so obsessed with looking to the future that we forget how important it is not to ignore the past. But it’s there, hidden behind facts and figures, that the true stories are to be read. Stories of pioneers, of layers of foundations, of critical, valiant spirits. These stories are the first step on the way into the future.   

Pater Grohmann


Beautiful solution that works

"When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it’s really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop… . But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem—and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works. That’s what we wanted to do with Mac."

Steve Jobs

Brands and stories

“A great brand is a story that’s never completely told. A brand is a metaphorical story that connects with something
very deep – a fundamental appreciation of mythology. Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.”

– Scott Bedbury 

Ray Ban and Oakley grow in Brazil

In the past months we've been researching brands that have entered Brazil and succeed. The Italian group Luxxotica owner of Ray Ban and Oakley stood out because of their patience, product differentiation, unpredictable marketing and "local growth teams" earning market leadership.

Luxxotica, is the world's largest eyewear company, best known for the Ray ban, Persol and Oakley brands. They began operation in Brazil in 1992, but their jump of 40% in sales was between 2011 and 2013, from €168 million to €235 (Luxxotica Report). In a country of instability both economically and politically how can a company grow with a "luxury" product? We believe the answer lies in three points:

1. Brazilians are buying less and better. Brazilians love brands and design, spending in overseas trips has be larger than ever, but people like the convenience of buying in Brazil when the price is right. Their strategy of producing in Brazil and offering at a better price point and in installments makes the purchase barrier less intimidating and more attractive to buy locally.

2. Product obsession of Ray Ban and Oakley. In a sea of "sameness" Ray Ban and Oakley thrive. Product development and innovation have been pillars of these brands since their birth, never complacent, they understand the need to offer emotional and physical benefits. See earlier post about Oakley's innovation.

3. Local presence. I have a fascination for brands that get it right, and this last point is crucial because Brazil is large, logistics and distribution are complicated, having a local presence accelerates the learning curve and local adaptation. Incremental improvement are many when you have a great team locally: time to market, retail nuances, and strength in the right investments in PR and marketing are only possible with a "local growth team" that drives the brands energy and visibility.

How does your company plan growth in Brazil? Does it link the three points above? 

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Oakley's Product Obsession - Challenger Brand

The video shows clearly that Oakley and it's founder Jim Jannard were on a mission to make the best product for the professionals and consumers that loved action sports. Their quality was not just OK but they strived to have products over engineered because that was who they were and never deviated from it. 

From a small brand created to sell grips and eyewear Oakley has become a $1 billion company based on the principle of having great products that overperform. Now owned by Italian Luxxotica Group the brand continues to focus on innovation and sports.

"Product obsession is primary." Jim Jannard, founder of Oakley - From the book Eating the Big Fish

Jony Ive and Marc Newson

Charlie Rose interviewed Jony Ive and Marc Newson, the candid conversation had both designers sharing a broad array of examples of design and their point of view. The one idea that stands out is caring about what you design and produce. There is an enormous effort and time put into caring, making the complex more familiar, the design and hard work, the raw material selection pay off when people use the product and feel that people "cared" about the details. 

"So many companies are competing against each other with similar agendas. Being superficially different is the goal of so many… rather than trying to innovate and genuinely taking the time, investing the resources and caring enough to try and make something better." Jony Ive