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A ravolution in Creative business strategy - Schemetter B.

Schemetter B. A ravolution in Creative business strategy - Wiley & sons , 2003. - 257 p.
ISBN 0-471-22917-2
Download (direct link): leaparevolutionIncreativeb2003.pdf
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Creativity at the Top
That is creative thinking applied to business strategy. And it is a solid illustration of another key aspect of CBIs: Don’t just offer a product. Create a customer experience. Branson’s Creative Business Idea wasn’t just to open a record store—that would have been going from A to B. It was his decision to open a retail store designed around a customer experience that took him from A to B to M. And it was that idea—the idea of retail entertainment—that would eventually give birth to the Virgin Megastore. Sofas, earphones for private listening, tables stocked with music magazines, and free coffee . . . that’s a Creative Business Idea.
Almost immediately, Virgin had a loyal following and a distinct brand image. But Branson already had his sights set on reinventing another category of the music business. Just as he had seen a disconnect between music retailing and youth culture, he saw a disconnect between the way music was recorded and the culture of the musicians. Music studios were run as traditional businesses, but musicians were antitraditional. Branson envisioned musicians recording in an unstructured atmosphere, so he purchased an old country manor and turned it into a studio with a relaxed, alternative ambience.
Once again, creativity was applied to the fundamentals of business itself. Both of these leaps arose from and influenced business strategy, not just communication strategy. They eventually led to innovative execution across and beyond traditional and new media. The result was a business solution that transformed marketplaces and resulted in new ways to maximize the relationship between consumer and brand.
A Sky-High Leap
Leaping from a record store to a record label makes some sort of sense. But to go from a record label to an airline? That is a stretch even for a nonlinear thinker. The impetus for this leap came from an American lawyer looking for someone to invest in a Gatwick—New York airline. This man approached Branson, whose partners at Virgin
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thought he was crazy to even consider it. Understandably, they saw no connection between their company and the airline industry. What does the record industry have to do with aviation? In his book, Branson described his strategy: “I rely far more on gut instinct than researching huge amounts of statistics. This might be because, perhaps due to my dyslexia, I distrust numbers, which I feel can be twisted to prove anything. The idea of operating a Virgin airline grabbed my imagination, but I had to work out in my own mind what the potential risks were.”10
As it turned out, the potential risks were enormous—as were the obstacles before him. Branson was going to challenge the giant British Airways. And with that challenge, he would put into place a philosophy that would allow him to take the Virgin brand from one industry to another. “Typically, we review the industry and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes to see what could make it better. We ask fundamental questions: Is this an opportunity for restructuring a market and creating competitive advantage?”11 Branson’s creative leap was not just to start a new airline. That would be linear thinking, from A to B. The leap from the record business to the airline business happened because Branson thought he could do it better. And that’s how he got from A to B to M.
Here was a little company, taking on a giant airline and promising to do it better. Was it hype—or was there something there? I went out of my way to find out, promptly booking a flight to London. The first difference I noticed was at Newark airport. Right after checking in, I was asked whether I wanted to eat before boarding. No one had ever given that option before, ever. Then I was asked whether I wanted to be awakened for breakfast prior to landing. Again, this was before even boarding the plane. Unheard of. I was offered pajamas. Free transportation, in a luxury car, to my London hotel. A manicure or backrub en route. What’s not to like?
Once I boarded, I could see a great difference in the attitude of the flight attendants. They actually seemed to enjoy what they were doing. The finishing touch was an announcement made just before
Creativity at the Top
landing, inviting passengers to donate their pocket change—which no one ever knows what to do with anyway, because you do not exchange coins in foreign countries—to one of Virgin’s charity efforts.
Put it all together, and it is not so much that Virgin was giving customers what they had always wanted—because I was not looking for all those things. What Virgin did was make the experience more interesting. It was no longer just a transatlantic flight that would get you to and from your destination. It was way more. It was a transatlantic experience. Like Morita giving people the opportunity to experience music wherever they went with the Walkman, this was a great brand experience. And it has absolutely nothing to do with advertising. In fact, everything about Virgin Atlantic Airways provides almost a textbook definition of a CBI. It’s applying creative thinking to business strategy in a way that results in breakthrough solutions and industry firsts. It’s brilliant execution beyond traditional and new media. It’s profitable innovation, transformed marketplaces, and new ways to maximize relationships between consumers and brands. It also has a strong product component, a strong communication component, and a powerful brand experience.
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