This week was filled with big news about big brands. Google revealed its upcoming roadmap of innovation. Fast Company interviewed the creator of the wildly popular musical Hamilton on how he built such a powerful brand so quickly. Slate offered a glimpse into the secret brilliance of Under Armour’s non-lifestyle basketball shoe inspired by Steph Curry. Amazon announced plans to focus on private label brands. And Hyperloop, the world’s most promising public transportation innovation, had a big successful demo. So to unpack all the big announcements – and the unexpected marketing lessons they offer, this week’s Insights email separates some of the best coverage from the noise and gives you just what you need to know about the stories everyone is already talking about.
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The Branding Secrets Of Manuel Lin Miranda
With all the coverage of the hit musical Hamilton (and the impossibility of getting tickets), it is easy to think that the story is simply about a great new Broadway musical. This profile piece in Fast Company takes it to another fascinating level, going inside what it took to build the brand of the show and what creator Lin Manuel Miranda has done so masterfully to cultivate his fans. From pop up shows for people waiting in line to smart brand extensions, the story is a valuable read for anyone considering how to strategically grow a brand over time and what “going viral” really should mean.
Under Armour Strategically Postpones Lifestyle For Performance
By most accounts the Curry 2 is somewhat boring for a basketball shoe. Despite being produced by Under Armour in collaboration with NBA megastar and MVP Steph Curry, the shoe is unapologetically a “hardcore basketball shoe” built for performance rather than fashion. In a world where competitors are collaborating with unlikely partners with no sports cred (like Kanye with Adidas or Drake with Nike), that strategy is quietly brilliant. Focus on the sports and authenticity first, partner with a humble but dominating athlete, build the brand … and add the lifestyle later. No wonder Under Armour is routinely the one sports apparel brand the entire industry is afraid of.
Marketing The World’s First Universal Translator
It was hard to miss the buzz this week around the first ever ear piece that could offer real time translation of a conversation – and the startup behind it (Waverly Labs) made some smart moves to galvanize all that attention. After sign up you are asked to share your excitement on social media for a chance to win a free product. The more you share, the most chances to win. This strategy is based on a trend I described in my 2016 trend research as “earned consumption” – the idea that consumers want to earn their spot in the queue and feel invested as a result. The viral example raises an interesting marketing strategy question: how would you change your marketing to let your ideal customers “earn” their chance to be a customer in the place?
How Hyperloop Will Change Human Behaviour
It’s easy to get romanced by the sexy prospect of traveling from San Francisco to LA in 30 minutes – but the longer term implications of the Hyperloop transportation system may be far more profound. While the successful test of the Hyperloop in the North Las Vegas desert last week received a wave of coverage, this Tech Insider article digs deeper into the human implications of the technology. How would our lives change if we did not have to factor distance into our relationships? What if you could live 400 miles from work and commute in less than 30 minutes? Sometimes it’s great to read things like this to get your imagination working far into the future instead of just focusing on what’s right in front of you.
Google’s Biggest Announcements And What They Mean
While new announcements of nothing from Apple generate tons of attention from global media, the news coming out of Google’s annual I/O event this week has been surprisingly tame. It shouldn’t be. In this great detailed recap of all the announcements from the event, you will read about Google’s vision for the smart home of the future, it’s new Facetime-like app called Duo, an Android based platform for VR called Daydream and lots more. If you read one article about technology all week, this one should be it.
Amazon Doubles Down On Private Label Brands
Amazon’s move to launch private label brands may be worrying for competitors, but echoes a broader trend that is going far beyond retail. Hollywood stars have launched publishing brands and crossover to fashion and retail. Content marketing leads brands to create lifestyle entertainment to build connections, and all this leads to many new kinds of new challenger brands. The result is that the market dominance of long time leaders is changing. So this story is particularly relevant because Amazon’s entry into the grocery retail market (and how the industry responds) will offer a worthwhile case study for any other brand contending with rapid disruption.
Influential Marketing Book Of The Week – Momentum
It is hard to imagine a better title for a new book from entrepreneur Shama Hyder than Momentum. She is a master of it. For most great books, the personal stories of the authors often become intertwined with the messages of the book. it is not enough to have a great idea, we also want to know why a particular author is the ideal person to bring that idea to life. In Momentum, the principles behind the book are fairly simple. Learn to iterate based on data, use technology to proactively understand (and listen to) your customers, let those customers PARTICIPATE with you rather than promoting stuff AT them and treat every relationship (including those with partners and vendors) like a marketing opportunity. These are the ideas you’ll find in this book, and chances are you have heard most of them before. What makes Momentum unique is just how hard Hyder works to give you an actionable way to USE those ideas in your business by offering bullet points of tips, takeaways and lessons from her own agency’s work with clients. Plenty of books can offer you a theory of building momentum. If, however, you want one that offers tips you can use today from an author who is undeniably winning by taking her own advice … read this book.
How Are These Stories Chosen?
Every week I review more than a hundred data sources to curate the best and most under appreciated marketing stories of the week. The aim of this email is to spotlight these “non-obvious” stories, along with a quick take on why they matter for you. I hope you find this email interesting and useful … and am always open to your suggestions on how I might make it better!