On the Archive Hour March 29th Robert Peston explored by looking back whether we still have a resentment of the profit motive. In the programme Charles Dunstone talked of his motives for setting up the Carphone Warehouse in the 1980's. He was working at NEC from 87-89 and saw the emergence of the mobile phone as a piece of car equipment. NEC was not a herd company following its rivals and this showed him that he could do things differently, profitably than the mainstream. Our Prime Minister, Maggie Thatcher, was exhorting entrepreneurs to 'get on with it.' Dunstone had an insight that the self-employed and small businesses could be empowered by the mobile phone. Conventional thought at the time stated that "as a mobile cost £3,000 in 1989 (equivalent to £8000 today) the only buyers will be large companies." Dunstone took the view that if he could help the smaller business to exploit them they could afford them... so he set up Carphone Warehouse to retail them direct to the public. He created a fun working environment that was friendly to the customer... he answered the phone "Hello, my name is Charles, how may I help you?" which was totally at odds with the stiff formality that was commonplace at that time. As he put it he zagged when everyone was zigging. This struck a chord... doesn't Marty Neumeier talk about this in Brand Gap?
Neumeier says "The brand gap is the distance between business strategy (what the company wants to be) and customer experience (how people actually perceive it). The brand gap has its origins in the way our brains work. Strategic thinkers favour the left side of the brain (the logic), while creative thinkers favour the right side (the magic). Since these two ways of thinking reside in different people, there's always a gap between brand logic and brand magic."
In Zagbook Neumeier writes that "Differentiation, the art of standing out from the competition is not front-page news. What is front-page news, in a world of extreme clutter, is that you need more than differentiation. You need RADICAL differentiation.
The new rule: when everyone zigs, zag. traditional differentiation is an uphill battle... radical differentiation, on the other hand, is about finding a whole new market space you can own and defend, thereby delivering profits over years instead of months."
We can see how Carphone Warehouse has kept trying to zag over the years, disturbing the land-line and broadband orthodoxies.
As the programme said... "trying to innovate is often derailed by "the voices of smugness and complacency that were against it."