What makes a disruptive brand?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
What does it take to launch a disruptive brand that develops a cult following? A great idea and good timing are important, but the personality, attitude and work ethic of the entrepreneur are also “make or break” elements.
“Every great idea, in my mind, is an experience driven by founders who are relentless,” said Dan Levitan, general partner for Maveron at a session, “Rock Star Entrepreneurs and The Next Generation of Retail” at the recent NRF Big Show. The former investment banker co-founded Maveron, a consumer startup-focused venture, with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in 1998.
Mr. Levitan added that every entrepreneur needs to:
- Work ridiculously fast;
- Be an all-star recruiter;
- Be obsessed with the product; and
- Balance brain and heart.
“Great brands resonate emotionally,” said Mr. Levitan. “Yet, at the same time, they need to be analytical and use data in this virtual world. The ones that just use heart never scale, and the ones that just use brain never integrate fully into customers’ lives.”
Other panelists at the session included Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss, Soap & Glory and FitFlop as well as a new beauty venture, Beauty Pie, and Michael Lastoria, co-founder and CEO, &pizza.
“New ideas are about connecting the dots through experiences and new things happening in the marketplace in a fresh way,” said Ms. Kilgore. “Most new ideas are obvious, but no one has put them together with rigor or discipline to make it exciting for the customer.”
Each &pizza location is uniquely designed to reflect the community and neighborhood.
“Every shop has a name, shop number and design story,” said Mr. Lastoria. “We wanted to promote one of our core values, which is about celebrating oneness and celebrating the individual — allowing people to be comfortable in their own skin when they walk in, whether they’re working there or there to buy pizza.”
“You need a direct connection with your customer,” added Mr. Levitan. “The best brands of today are about heart, [something that] Amazon isn’t really in touch with.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s the secret sauce for launching and developing cult brands these days? What are some long-standing practices for building strong brands and what are some new ones required for the digital age?