27/10/2017

Iconic Innovators: The world needs you

By Helen Richards

As we embark on an exciting new partnership with MICHELIN, we celebrate the brands championing their heritage whilst innovating for the future.

Now more than ever we look to strong, visionary brands. As our world becomes increasingly fragile, technologies evolve faster and faster: change is our only constant. Whilst we appreciate an anchor, the human brain is a restless beast, constantly questioning, constantly creating – we are looking for more than brands to ride this wave with us, we are looking for leaders. 

True leaders lead by example, galvanizing their troops with conviction and purpose. From a brand perspective, leaders are icons – those who have kept at the front of the pack with a loyal and ever-evolving set of followers. These iconic brands have rich histories, often rooted in the manufacturing economy, driving through the information economy to push the dawn of the emerging creative economy. 

What stands these icons apart from the rest? Clear value married with clear vision and a dedication to innovation. Consider the success of the late David Bowie. A master of reinvention, his quest for creative exploration never wavered over his 50 year career. In always pushing the boundaries, blending the arts, his characters and political activism, he became a cultural icon not only of his time, but one that reigns strong today. True icons are timeless with strong roots to stand the test of time and ever-growing branches stretching us forward, understanding our human desire for both familiarity and the unknown, past and future: for innovation with purpose.

Don’t Stand Still 

The brands that live and breathe innovation best are driven by a set of clear, unique values that take people on the journey. These values marry vision with purpose, guiding meaningful, human innovation. In our recent partnership with Michelin, we were able to appreciate the strength of a very human vision coupled with high technology and performance. Their dedication to enabling mobility drives everything they do: from the Michelin brothers’ first invention of removable inner-tyre, to their eponymous restaurant guides; to their state of the art heavy goods plant up in Stoke that us 3D printing technology to create textured, longer-lasting tyre treads with up to 4 re-treads before end of life. Michelin embodies mobility from its very core through constant movement and caring innovation, continuously looking ahead whilst remaining true to their past. 

Inspiration is Everywhere

Staying in mobility and performance, Nike are a well-versed icon in the world of innovation. Their early adoption from the world of product to service with a series of connected Nike + platforms empowered the Nike community to flourish and grow. We should expect no less from a brand so driven by innovation, a waffle iron was used to prototype their first running sole, and perhaps Nike’s most interesting work lies just there. The Sole saw them partner with Ossur prosthetics to reimagine performance prosthetics with new material “Aeroply” specifically designed for better interface with carbon fibre. The results brought Paralympic performances into question / fired the bionic vs natural debate: and there’s certainly no chance of Nike standing still any time soon.

Be True to Your Strengths  
 

Evolutionary icon Samsung has defined itself in staying “ahead of the curve”, surely a pre-requisite for a technology company, especially one that has played such a big part in the age of data and technology. Yet Samsung started life as a Korean export company, trading dried fish, fruit and vegetables, before moving into technology via shipping. Looking at the last 20 years, to the unseeing eye Samsung innovation has been primarily product focused (to Apple’s service and platform) – we all know about Samsung digital TVs and smart phones, but perhaps less about their investment into biotechnology & healthcare. With a mission to “inspire the world, create the future” they are now stalking ahead with their Smart Cities initiative, pooling all their product development diligence to build totally connected platform networks, pioneering the Internet of Things service model with established and firm foundations. Samsung’s progressive attitude and quiet dedication have paid off, their competitive edge now coming into its own.  

Bold Collaboration 

As technology shifts our parameters, icons must be bold. Never was this more true in the worlds of play and toy development, arguably the coalface of traditional values and progressive vision. How does an iconic toy manufacturer aid child development in a world so rapidly changing as ours, will traditional toys and learning practices become redundant? Fisher Price have met this challenge straight on, turning round ailing sales in the meantime. Channeling their core values of intrinsic play value and ingenuity, the company now embraces collaborative innovation from the inside out. From their internal ‘Mix Faire’ expo where employees are invited to share their inventions, to an external partnership with innovation agency Continuum exploring the future of parenting, from holographic learning tools to connected family devices. They even use one of their most iconic toys, the rock-a-stack rings, to demonstrate seamless traditional and technology led learning.

 

So, as we move firmly into this era of creativity, where art and science are increasingly joining forces, and technology is used to drive more human experiences, we call for iconic leaders to push the boundaries. To take us on this journey with a trusted root and visionary purpose, both satisfying our need for comfort and stretch: inspiring us to be bold and feel empowered in this constantly evolving brave new world of ours with iconic brands at the helm and meaningful brand inspired innovation as our guiding path. 

Recommended For You

Press

Echo brings you design trends magazine Radar - Autumn 2015.

Jess Skinner
Press

Kiss the Moon, a sleep brand specialising in night-time beauty products, has launched its range of 100% natural beauty oils with packaging designed and created by ECHO Brand Design.

Rachel Felwick
Opinion
Balanced diet

In “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour” the social anthropologist Kate Fox argues that the English relationship with food is a functional one, lacking the primal, sensual passion that defines the attitudes of some other nations and cultures.

Jeremy Davies
Press, Opinion
Shelf ready packaging

For some, shelf-ready packaging is not a priority. But there are others who view it differently, believing SRP works well with pack design. By Simon Creasey, Packaging News.

Nick Dormon