MAKING ICONIC MOVES: FIVE STEPS
1 - Cultivate continuous change
Iconic Moves never happen in isolation; they are accelerations within a process of continuous improvement — and this requires brands to be constantly in touch and in tune with their customers, transforming data and observation into insight — and offering new, better, and different on a near daily basis.
The great ecosystem brands that lead our ranking have revolutionized the relationship between customers and businesses, substituting the traditional feedback loop with continuous adaptability.
And so have, interestingly, the fastest-growing luxury brands, albeit in a completely different way: by anticipating the formation of new cultural patterns, sensing the shifts in values, and finding their role in it.
2 - Sense the weak signals
Iconic Moves are, by definition, rare. They happen at precisely the right time, capturing the zeitgeist and creating a before and an after.
There are a number of conditions that signal that your business and your arena might be ripe for an Iconic Move. Recognizing these signals in due course is critical to owning the future. They broadly fall into four categories.
Customers: for instance, is there a widespread frustration in the experience? Are customers using outdated technology? Are rising concerns, such as environmental protection, absent from the offering?
Operations: for instance, is innovation increasingly R&D-led rather than customer- led? Are the business and the category losing customer data to other players?
Competition: for example, is loyalty declining in the category with customers? Are new players starting to penetrate the market with new business models?
Performance: are margins being eroded?
Is the role of brand in choice relatively low, with no outliers? Is innovation becoming incremental, and driving diminishing returns?
Based on these reflections, we expect to see Iconic Moves reshaping in the short- term categories such as banking, insurance, real estate, and air travel. Those moves will define the future shape and shapers of those categories.
3 - Seek alignment
Iconic Moves are not self-serving stunts, but powerful means to an end — conceived and designed to accelerate the business’s progression along its desired trajectory, seeking an alignment (or realignment) between customers, the business, and their interactions.
And it does start with customers.
Nike’s Kaepernick campaign combined a deep understanding of the brand’s US and non-US target audiences — demographics and orientation — a strong underlying business case and a well-orchestrated content and product drop.
Lego’s first movie, grossing nearly $500 million, focused on reaching a new generation of ‘builders,’ leading into a long tail content and product innovation, with a considerable revenue and profit uplift; in the year after its release, Lego reported a sales uplift of 25%.
And further back in time, Burberry’s then ground-breaking streaming of its fashion show turned the heads of millennials around the globe, powering years of sustained growth.
Conversely, the challenge for Adobe will be
to keep its relationship with its customer base aligned to an otherwise powerful subscription business model.
4 - Broaden the options
In hindsight, Iconic Moves seem simply inevitable. But as they occur, they always impress, often surprise, sometimes unsettle.
As such, their center of gravity may be in very different areas of the business and take profoundly different shapes — from category (e.g., BMW creating the henceforth highly profitable small premium car category through the reinvention of MINI) to channel (e.g., Sephora changing the distribution in the beauty market), from customer relationships (Dollar Shave Club introducing a subscription model) to partnerships or M&As (Amazon acquiring Whole Foods).
Iconic Moves differ from disruption in many respects — at heart, they are not epoch- defining innovation breakthroughs of creative destruction. They do not rely on product innovation; they are strategic actions that change the way people view and interact with businesses and categories by capturing their imagination — and, often, creating a following.
5 - Follow-through
Finally, an Iconic Move is not merely a campaign or promise— it is a market action that implies a credible commitment from the business and makes it vulnerable in the absence of follow-through.
Thus, Iconic Moves don’t just require focused preparation — but, just as importantly, a long tail of deployment and change, often reaching into the very way a business operates. Each of the above examples is as much about a perfectly timed alignment between customer, experience, and business as much as it is about relentless, uncompromising follow-through.
"WITH THE END OF POSITIONING, WE BELIEVE IT WILL BE LESS ABOUT HELPING DEFINE WHAT A BUSINESS STANDS FOR, AND MORE ABOUT DETERMINING WHERE IT SHOULD GO NEXT."