blogging from the cape: IceBreaker as martian innovation

Jeremy_moon This is an experiment in real time blogging (or close thereto). 

Jeremy Moon is an entrepreneur from New Zealand and the owner of Icebreaker, a 10 year old company that makes garmets for outdoors with a turnover of $100 million at retail.  I am listening to Jeremy talk at the Design Management Institute meetings on the Cape.  Right now.  I am going to write as long as he speaks and post the moment he stops.

I have to say this is really uncomfortable.  I am obliged to work without mediation, no real chance to think about what I am saying, how best to say it, and how to identify its larger significance.

Icebreaker has an interesting "brand story" as Jeremy calls it.  The garments are, as he puts it, "born in the mountains, worn in the mountains, start in nature, return to nature."

The IceBreaker question is "what does it take to build a 100 year brand"

1. choose position: maximize distance (from competitors)

deep innovation, to create a new category which IB has had to itself the market to itself for 6  or 7 years

2. add meaning: branding

Jeremy has very kindly cited my book, Culture and Consumption I.  Jeremy says, "We make sense of our world by scribing meaning to things through connection."  (This is unanticipated and not the reason I am blogging this!) 

Brand is the meaning behind a badge.  Mapped the competitlors, developed brand story (logic and narrative), create a brand blueprint (tone and design rules), create prototypes (test, refine, repeat)  The brand is as layered as the clothing and designed to allow from new meanings shifted in and out. 

3. add physicality: product

[missed this]

4. Business model: built to live like this

Over-invest in the true drivers of your brand

minimize capital expenditure

long term partners

focus narrow and deep (more business with fewer people)

build ethics and sustainability into the model

choose where brand lives

5. Market: Focus on top of the triangle

[missed this]

This guy is errie in the way all entrepreneurs are.  Clearly, Icebreakers is a company in progress.  The paint on these ideas is still wet.  Clearly, these ideas have just found their way into the world, and from this into marketing, branding, design practice at IceBreakers, and from here into this presentation, and finally into this crowded room on the cape.

Jeremy remindes me of the way professional baseball players run the bases.  The assumption is that you are going to take the next base after this one.  You round the base at speed.  It’s only when you see what is happening and take instruction from the coach that the final decision is made.  It is an ultimate momentum model.  You know that J. has to have proceed this way to have got to 100 million in sales in 10 years.  He takes something and keeps going.  You trust in their intelligence, your adaptive powers, your ability to re-interate and fix what was imperfect.

How often do entrepreneur remind us of Martians: Formidable powers of selection, assimilation, application and revision.  A couple of posts ago, I was arguing that one of the advantages for the Razr from Motorola that it was created at speed, in a single sprint through the corporation.  You see the advantages of speed hereto.    But this momentum model only works if the players are indeed martian smart. 

Ok, he’s stopping talking and I must now post.

4 thoughts on “blogging from the cape: IceBreaker as martian innovation

  1. rkleine

    Grant – Your “I am obliged to work without mediation,” caused me to double-take. I first read ‘mediation’ as ‘medication.’ Freudian? Or do ‘mediation’ and ‘medication’ share a core? Dunno. Mebbe I just need a beer.

  2. CarolGee

    “He takes something and keeps going. You trust in their intelligence, your adaptive powers, your ability to re-interate and fix what was imperfect.”
    I really liked your willingness to blog in real time. I’ve had the same misgivings. Are you aware that you did it just as in your above quote? This, too, is Freudian.

  3. Grant

    Rkleine, note to self, pill before blogging, thanks, grant

    CarolGee, very nice, I didn’t see that, of course there is a difference, Moon is worth a fortune and I am clipping coupons. Grant

  4. Jeremy Moon

    hi Grant, here’s a quick update. Sales have doubled since this 05 blog, i’m now happy as CEO as i’ve learnt a lot about management not just brand management, which has been my big ‘test’, and we now have a new design centre in Portland OR which is cranking and will create a new future for us in 2008 when the product comes through. For me now it’s less about ‘finding the pieces of the jigsaw’ as it felt like for the first 10 yrs and now it’s more like searching for the social cues to how our internal cutlure is growing so we can maintain our momentum. cheers Jeremy

Comments are closed.