Coordinates 11-12.15

In this month’s Coordinates 11-12.15, we share articles putting points on the trend horizon. We cover topics on Consumer & Culture, Economy & Industry, and Brand & Marketing that give insights into which direction the wind is blowing.

Innovating a Brand Asset

Nike is applying its smart brand and product management to Converse and the Chuck Taylor All Star line. Check out their media page, and you see how the company is constantly refreshing the line to add fashion-relevancy. The shoe becomes the canvas, and simple innovations—just changing the material or applying a cool design from an artist—create appeal and fashionable news. Sometimes innovation can win big by simply being simple.


Integrity Marketing: REI

It was refreshing to see a brand make a statement and a commitment that aligned perfectly with their ethos. Who cares that others followed and seemed to jump on the promotional bandwagon.

Applause goes to REI for its #OptOutside campaign and closing its doors on Black Friday to instead encourage not only its customers, but also its employees, to enjoy getting outside. Read more at Adweek.

Employer Branding

While this article focuses primarily on the fashion industry, it’s relevant for all. With it becoming more difficult to compete for relevant talent, company’s need to start putting just as much attention to their employer brand as they do their consumer brands. Read more from Business of Fashion.

IKEA Innovation Lab

IKEA has partnered with Space10 in Copenhagen, which is owned, conceptualized, and facilitated by Rebel Agency, to create an innovation lab that explores home life for urban dwellers. They create labs to address specific challenges and then conduct activities around these to gain insights. It’s a great example of using physical test environments or manifestations to allow companies to play and get real, live data to help guide innovation. Read more at Design Milk.

Multi-Media Storytelling

Love that the New Yorker did this… brought its cover story to life with more than just a 2-dimensional image. Check out this video that complements the cover and a story inside.

Why aren’t more brands doing this with their branding and logos? Why are logos only 2-dimentional? It’s likely that practicalities get in the way, such as loading time on websites and printing requirements. But why not have some fun? Create something that is more dynamic and compelling, even if it’s short-lived for a promotional period?

Sustainable Growth Models

Get rich quick and get big quick schemes often are too good to be true. That’s been evidenced by several start-ups of late going belly up, because they either didn’t build a sustainable business model or were too eager to grow fast. This is counter-intuitive on some level—these companies don’t have to meet public market expectations, so should take advantage of the benefits of being private. Instead, the pressure to grow big quickly results in them going after growth before they are ready, eating up resources and leading to the companies demise.

Homejoy’s story suggested that steady, solid growth could just be the answer to a company’s survival. A focus on growth can lead to not investing in a sustainable business model, fixing less sexy issues such as marketing acquisition, technical problems, supply side issues, and on. Read more on Medium.

Organic Avenue’s story presents the importance of building a sustainable business model: maintain relevancy, build for the long-term, and be careful in business ownership transition to not lose the mojo. Read more in Katherine Rosman’s article from The New York Times.

Public Able to Invest in Start-Ups

The public is about to be able to invest in start-up companies to own equity rather than getting another item of value in exchange, as is the case today on social investing sites. The new rules outlined by the Security and Exchange Commission, the Jumpstart Our Businesses Act (JOBs), change the existing crowdfunding models of today. Read more at ReadWrite.

Year of the Female Memoir

2015 ended the year strong with the launch of a surge of women’s memoirs celebrating women’s lives and voices. Female celebrities wrote their life stories so we can all learn from their experiences. Nice to see women acknowledged and represented in this way.

Check out any of the following:

  • Shonda Rhimes: “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person” (November 2015)
  • Mary-Louise Parker: “Dear Mr. You” (November 2015)
  • Gloria Steinem: “My Life on the Road” (October 2015)
  • Carrie Brownstein: “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl” (October 2015)
  • Drew Barrymore: “Wildflower” (October 2015)
  • Mindy Kaling’s: “Why Not Me” (September 2015)
    • Interview from NPR
    • Article Mindy wrote for Glamour
  • And the list goes on… 

Fast Lane for Shoppers

In the U.K. this past November, a shopping center tested out a pedestrian fast lane for shoppers who get frustrated with slow peds, an impediment to shopping. Love it. Read more at The Telegraph.

The Growing Food Revolution: The Pursuit of Excellence with Heirloom Grains

Not unlike what we’ve experienced with other fruits and vegetables, in the endeavor to feed the world and produce in large quantities, grains have been produced in a way that has led them to lose nutritional value and flavor. Stephen Jones, a scientist who founded the Bread Lab, is championing going back to our roots to bring the goodness of regional, heirloom grains into the mainstream. Read more at The New York Times.

Using Food Wisely

Over the last two years, there’s been increased discussion about how to reduce food waste. For example in 2014, there was reporting on how to make use of the food we are wasting. Read more at Fast Company.

This year, there’s a growing international movement to save the food before it’s wasted, in this case with produce that isn’t visually perfect. From Ugly Mugs to Imperfect Produce, organizations are popping up to champion saving, selling, and eating foods that don’t look pretty, but are still perfectly edible. Read more at The New York Times.


Going Analog

The world has been going digital for some time, but that doesn’t mean that everything will be turned into bits and bytes. It could be that as has been evidenced with marketing and sales channels, the more the merrier. New digital forms don’t eliminate, but rather complement other mediums.

Rob Walker wrote an amusing, insightful observation of this trend in The New York Times called “Digital Culture, Meet Analog Future.”

Amazon, Google, and Facebook are all exploring crossovers. Here are a few examples:

  • Amazon, the king of the online bookstore, actually opened a physical bookstore in November now that it’s run so many of the brick and mortar stores out of business and that e-book sales are slowing down. Read more at Fortune.
  • Even though this innovation actually seems superfluous, it’s interesting that Google felt the need to create a physical notepad and pencil to interact with its Think with Google service. Read more at Fast Company.
  • Recognizing that being online isn’t always possible or cost-effective, Google launched Offline Maps in November. Read more at The New York Times.
  • Even Facebook’s venture into Oculus Rift takes it outside of just being an information company. Read more at Vanity Fair, Fortune, and Barrons.

Do the Right Thing: Investing in Beauty & Happiness

What a nice gift! Robert Nelson, president of Nelson Management, which owns mixed income residence towers in the Bronx, hired American Christmas, the company that does retailer store windows in NYC, to decorate the building lobbies to add a touch of holiday spirit for the residents. Read more at The New York Times.


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