In the world of sports, the difference between good teams and great teams really comes down to determination, focus and a relentless desire to always be better.
You see this kind of attitude in coaches who win multiple championships. After the buzzer sounds and the confetti falls, they’re already thinking about next season and how they’re going to repeat that success. Come Monday morning, they’re already back to work, revising strategy, looking ahead and getting ready for the next challenge.
Just like a sports franchise looking to become a perennial winner, great brands approach every day and every project with the same level of passion and enthusiasm, whether they are in the home stretch of unveiling a new product or service, or in the early planning stages for a new innovation.
It’s why I believe the most successful brands employ a “No Offseason” mentality as it relates to its vision, investment strategy and efforts to create new customer experiences.
So what goes into a “No Offseason” strategy? Brands that embrace this kind of mindset understand that great ideas can come from anywhere. They aren’t afraid of change, and they never lose sight of how their customers’ needs are evolving.
Great Ideas Can Come From Anywhere
In the auto industry, even before a manufacturer starts shipping this year’s model of a particular vehicle, teams of engineers, designers and other creative types are already working on what next year’s version is going to look like.
Since its inception, BMW has been one of the most innovative auto manufacturers in the world, and in recent years the company has taken a number of steps to help cement its position as one of the most forward-thinking brands in its industry.
One of the hallmarks of BMW’s innovation strategy is an understanding that great ideas can come from anywhere. To help encourage innovation among its suppliers, BMW created the BMW Supplier Innovation Award, to shine a spotlight on key partners who push the envelope and break the mold.
At the same time, the company developed the BMW Start-Up Garage to help the next generation of startups to work more closely with BMW. The project not only helps BMW connect with promising early stage companies to work together on high-potential projects, but also gives the company a chance to lend a hand and help these startups grow and prosper through mentorship and guidance.
Learning To Not Fear Change
Just because something has traditionally been done one way doesn’t mean it always needs to be done that way. Even after a successful season, the best teams are constantly changing the playbook, bringing in new players and looking for a new way to find an edge.
Kevin Plank, the founder of athletic apparel chain Under Armour, was inspired to create the performance apparel category because he knew that just because athletes had always worn cotton, didn’t mean there couldn’t be a better alternative.
Since then, Under Armour has become one of the most successful athletic apparel companies in the world, as well as a brand that is synonymous with innovation and change. Last year, the company opened a 35,000-square-foot design and manufacturing test center in Maryland called The Lighthouse, to help Under Armour researchers rethink how athletic equipment is manufactured. The site features 3D design and body scanning, 3D printing technologies, and innovative new ways for researchers to create and test apparel and footwear prototypes.
Meeting Evolving Customer Needs
Burberry is not only one of the most sought-after luxury brands on the planet, it’s also one of the most digitally savvy. Even though Burberry is more than 160 years old, the company thinks about digital innovation like a start-up, always with an eye on meeting the customer wherever they are.
Burberry has developed a reputation for being an early adopter of social-media platforms, recognizing the value of content early on, and has even built innovative digital signage into its flagship retail stores. It’s always looking to reach customers and deliver a relevant experience, whether in-store or online.
Understanding how consumer demands are changing in an era of instant gratification and on-demand content, the company last year altered its fashion week calendar so that consumers would be able to buy items from the company’s new collections, almost immediately after those designs were unveiled.
With new collections arriving several times a year, brands like Burberry need to maintain a constant cadence of innovation to ensure they maintain the attention of discerning consumers.
Truly great teams are not satisfied with a single championship. Once they reach the top, they want to stay there. That’s why the top brands are always looking for new ways to innovate, to invest in the future, and foster a culture of continued success.
Joseph Stinziano is executive VP of Samsung Electronics America.