What Can Business Learn from Microbiomes?

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Actually quite a lot.

If you haven’t heard, microbiomes are the ‘communes’ of life, so to speak, and quite possibly the source of the next big breakthroughs in health and agriculture.

Microbiomes are all the organisms that co-habit a living organism.

Our human cells are only a small fraction of us. There are also some 100 trillion microbial cells … good bacteria, and the like, that live within us and keep us healthy. Same with plants and animals. Without these symbiotic, interdependent relationships we would not exist.

As scientists are now delving into collective genomes, they are understanding that the old way of just focusing only on the ‘host’ cells misses the enormous importance of the whole microbiome entity.

Business is arguably the same. We traditionally think of our company as a separate, independent organism that lives within itself and only interacts with the world through sales and marketing.

What if we learnt from science and created our company’s microbiome? What if we sat down and truly defined each of the entities in our entire business eco system and then built interdependencies with each so that we all thrive and survive together?

What the heck am I talking about?

A simple example. Let’s play with ‘advocacy’.

We all know in today’s digitally connected world that the more people advocating your company and brands the better. Right? Personal referrals are king.

Yes, we already have tactics to motivate and even incentivize advocacy and, yes, from time to time this works, but what if we actually make it our master strategy?

What if we deliberately set out to make it a priority in our relationships with every organism or entity that lives within our company’s microbiome? This would include employees, neighbors, customers, consumers, partners, affiliates and communities.

In each case, we can develop an ‘interdependency’, whereby it is in the best interests of all to vigorously advocate for each other. In fact, we could get to the stage where we only hire or, work with entities, that actually have our advocacy linked to their ongoing success.

Tons of ways to do this but if every entity in our microbiome is offered a different deal for advocacy (employee bonus, cost or price incentives for others?), then even in small ways we are working as one.

Heady stuff granted but one heck of a philosophical approach to building a company’s future. Right?

We love this stuff and are always looking for creative, innovative and sustainable ways to grow companies and their brands. Come play with us. And we’ll help you work out the best way to grow your company.

We are Rocket Branding and honored to serve. www.rocketbranding.com, 312 951 5178

Thank you.

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Can You Hear the Rainbow?

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 4.41.25 PMKaty asked this innocent question as she tugged at my sleeve and stretched her little eight year-old, bubbly self to show me the pretty rainbow outside the plane’s window.

Her mother hovered in the seat behind. I offered to change places but no, she said it was good that Katy (with a ‘y’) could spend some time with strangers.

OK I guess. But this stranger was hard at work drafting a three-year brand strategy for a client – the result of a two-day work session.

Katy persisted and for a lovable time this little person and I tried to work out what sound does orange make? Is blue a bubbling water sound or the gurgle when Katy finishes that last gulp of lemonade, (which is yellow of course) and what sound does red make … no clue! And what sound does the whole rainbow make?

She finally fell asleep and I went back to banging away on my laptop.

But an idea popped into my head. Little Katy, that sweet little mind, may well have just nailed why some growth strategies succeed and others fail.

Most companies build long-term growth strategies at one time or another. So why do some get traction and drive the company and others just sit on a shelf collecting dust?

We know that without properly defining the future growth goal, it is unlikely that there will be a powerful focus to the plan. At best it will be uninspiring and at worst miss a huge opportunity to set the company up with a lucrative competitive advantage for years to come.

But is this enough?

Katy would have us do one more thing. Have the courage to ask big, simple maybe even nonsensical questions.

Too often we get trapped into asking the same questions of a brand or a category, and yes, we end up with the same answers.

I remember being in a Coca Cola meeting where a research firm was presenting their annual report on drinking behavior. They were highlighting the remarkable growth in water consumption in the US population. The senior Coke representative scoffed at the idea of ever selling water in a can (They were predominantly a can company at that time). So the trend was disregarded. Katy might have asked. Why does it have to be in a can? It took Coke almost a decade after that to sell water in a bottle and, during that time, losing a huge chunk of business to others.

I also remember Bob Shapiro the head of The NutraSweet Company after reviewing proposed brand campaigns he commented on how small they seemed. Being a revolutionary new sweetener was fine but really so what? Yes the campaign would work for the packet sweetener business under the Equal brand, but what about the ingredient business with the NutraSweet brand? Do all the beverage brands that can use aspartame want to promote a new sweetener? Packets are a profitable $200 million+ business but the ingredient business that could be featured in the launch of the new diet soft drink category (Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi etc.) would be in the billions. A simple question that led to the idea of not introducing NutraSweet as a new sweetener but as new taste. Simple question that lead to a positioning campaign of ‘why some things taste better than others’ and a relevant message and logo for Coke and Pepsi, and some 3,000 other food and beverage brands throughout the world, to promote on their front labels.

So if you planning the next three to five years of solid growth don’t be afraid to sit back and ask the big, possibly silly, ‘Katy’ questions. And of course sometimes its good to have an outsider like us facilitate that. We are Rocket Branding and as always, honored to help. www.rocketbranding.com

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A recent odd travel experience highlighted for me how difficult it can be to launch fast growing brands today.

I was retained by airport TSA agents who informed me that the x-ray had detected a “groin anomaly’ and I needed to go to a secure room.

Suffice to say that after a thorough investigation and, a herculean effort on my part not to make a slew of jokes, they let me on my way.

Now I was more than happy to immediately “drop trou” and show them that their fears were quite unfounded but no, I had to go through an extended pat down and questioning. They had their roles and I had to have mine.

So what does this have to do with branding today?

Well two things.

1. Caution

We now live in very cautious world.  What we say or do in public is open to massive amounts of scrutiny and judgment and, in many situations we have to be very careful about how we behave, act or react. The same goes for a brand that competes in any arena where caution is now common. E.g. food, ingredients, health, financial, travel, children and so on.

2. Watching

With the Internet, cameras, drones you are being watched, recorded and classified. So is your brand.

No, this isn’t about ‘big brother’ or sinister plots and it is in no way suggesting that brands should not be spontaneous, flippant or even irreverent, if that is what the brand strategy calls for.

This is just a reminder to carefully assess the mindset of your core customer or consumer and the way life is causing them to make decisions relative to your brand.

And especially be very careful with competitive positioning focuses on Trust or Freedom.

‘Trust’ can easily be broken if there is a ‘gotcha’ moment or inconsistency from one brand connection to another.

‘Freedom’ is an incredible promise as an anti dote to caution and concern but this had better be legitimate or it can become an albatross around the brand’s neck…. any one for sea cruise on a sick ship…just ask luxury cruise ship how freedom on the high seas is working for them?

What say you?

Let us help you work through this. Visit www.rocketbranding.com.







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