Startups & Insurgent Brands as Platforms

New brands or companies that are making traction in the marketplace are at an advantage over their traditional counterparts. They are able to begin their brand growth journey with a clean slate to become a platform. They don’t have legacy processes or systems that slow them down. They don’t have legacy brands they have to grow while innovating in a new category.  They don’t have to break down business unit silos because they haven’t been built within the organization.

Insurgent brands solve specific pain points of consumers to gain an edge in the marketplace. They have a small consumer base to track and coordinate great relationships and build products, services and experiences that surround the customer. They can stay hyper-focused on their mission without diluting it across many brands or activities. They can utilize new technologies to power their brands to fulfill their brand promise more easily and quickly. 

These opportunities give insurgent brands an immediate pathway to start their brand as a platform from the very beginning. 

3 Things Successful Insurgent Brands Have in Common

Human Centered Business: All business decisions revolve around the human that is actually going to be using or engaging with a product or service. This in-depth understanding of the consumer allows the product or service to truly satisfy the consumer needs. And it allows the brand to be created and curated to be a business driver, not just a promise that never gets fulfilled. 

Warby Parker has done an amazing job being extremely focused on the customer pain points. Not only did they find that the eyewear industry was bloated in profit margins, but they found that the process of shopping for eyewear was a horrible process. So they set out to change that. They bet on direct-to-consumer manufacturing and distribution and ecommerce for shopping. Then they built a beautiful brand and product line around it. They experimented with technologies, logistics and even retail to build their brand around solving the consumer pain points with shopping for, buying and owning eye-wear. At every decision point they involved the audience to ensure what they were building worked for the consumer. 

Always On: Traditional marketing campaigns and acquisition can be extremely expensive, especially for a startup. Not to mention the defection rate of new customers from campaigns is relatively high. Insurgent brands look at things a bit differently. Not only do they measure the lifetime value of the consumer over acquisition, but they use data and consumer behavior to create an always on communication and engagement relationship with their consumers. Doing this allows them to grow through retention, loyalty and advocacy. Something we’ve built a case around before

Spotify is built around the idea the metric of listener engagement and retention. Once they get a consumer to try their platform, they do everything they can to drive re-engagement and time spent listening. They do this through a strategic use of consumer and listener data to recommend new or nostalgic music, driving exploration and surprise and delight for each listener. This obsession with the listener experience and continuously learning about the listener, give Spotify an advantage over other competitors by building a level of loyalty and engagement that can’t be beat. 

Enabled by Technology: The most common element with insurgent brands is that they are all enabled by technology. Whether it’s logistics, consumer experience, customer service or simply shopping and transaction, insurgent brands use technology to automate what should be automated and reduce friction and pain points. And as technology evolves, they are the first movers to test, utilize and integrate new features and functions that evolve their brand offering and fulfill their brand with their consumers

Warby Parker leverages technology to not only build tools to aid in internet shopping, but they leverage data and insights to build their physical retail stores. They not only empower their consumers and power their brand with technology, but us it as a driving force to make business decisions. Casper has started to disrupt the $29Billion mattress industry by utilizing technology to not only shop and ship online, but to optimize their products to be able to ship direct to consumer. Like Warby Parker, they have taken the uneasiness of shopping for a very physical product online and leveraged technology to make it easy, smart and seamless. 

Brands that are just starting out in today’s marketplace have a lot of options to make their consumer experience holistic, centered around the consumer and always on. All enabled by the technology platforms that are in the market today. Whether it’s advances in logistics, shopping, transaction or customer experience, technology will continue to give new brands an opportunity to not only come online, but the power compete on a large scale.