From "Brand" to "Breakthrough"

Fortune.com just published this - their summary of Breakthrough Brands for 2017 and what makes them truly “breakthrough."

If your brand is not an “online brand” like Airbnb, Instagram, or Slack - the list’s top 3 - it could be easy to dismiss Fortune’s rankings as just another technology-centered ranking that has no relevance to your brand. But what I love about the methodology behind this list is that it does something that EVERY BRAND must do: It looks at consumer need/want and puts that at the center of what makes a "brand" a "breakthrough."

IMG_9494.JPG#asset:308:urlInstagram (#2) is a great example. The online app rose to “breakthrough” status because of incredible growth once Facebook acquired it and allowed content to be shared across the two social platforms. Instagram went from 30 million to 500 million users! But at the end of the day, new users weren’t joining Instagram because of its link to Facebook. They were joining because they wanted a way to easily take, edit, create and post some really incredible looking snapshots, and Facebook introduced them to Instagram’s ability to do just that.

The relevant inspiration that applies to ANY BRAND in this Instagram example is the understanding that your brand does not need to totally reinvent itself to be "breakthrough." Understanding what it is that your audience needs or wants, and making sure your product or service continues to fulfill them is critical, of course. But from there, you can breakthrough by:

  • Connecting and introducing your brand, product, or service to new consumers by leveraging new channels and creating new partnerships or affiliations - as Facebook did for Instagram
  • Giving consumers new ideas for ways to use and benefit from your product or service - like the ability for one post to be easily shared between two social platforms.

For even more inspiration from this article, read further down to the All-Star Brands and the Old Brands, New Moments sections. There are some great cues to take from some of these brands on many fronts: including how to weather the storms (Samsung Galaxy Note 7, anyone?) and how traditional brands remain fresh and relevant (Levi’s, an age-old brand with very modern environmental and social commitments). 

So what do you think of this list? What brand would you define as breakthrough in your category, or generally as an inspiration to you? What ways has your brand broken through versus competition? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so send ‘em to me.