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15th November 2014

You need a brand? You need an audience.

There is a popular charity event in Ireland called the Trinity College Jailbreak, where groups take on the challenge to get as far away from Ireland as possible. Not too challenging, right? Well there’s a catch. You cannot spend any money. Not a single cent.

In previous years the results have been outstanding, with teams from Dublin University getting as far as Argentina and Brunei.

Imagine that you are going to do this challenge. Think about your first move. What would be your strategy?

For me, the following comes to mind…

  •  Make a video that shows what I plan to do and why I’m doing it. This will come in handy I’m sure.
  •  Hitchhike to the airport by holding a big ‘hiking for charity’ sign.
  •  Convince the airline crew to get me onto a flight and pray I can get one back.

There are certain people who would be able to take this further…

“My Mum works on a cruise ship. I’m sure she will be able to sort something out for us.”

“My uncle’s best friend is a pilot for Emirates. If he plans it right, we should be able to get onto a flight”

All of these ideas have one common factor. They all rely on the help of other people. It’s the obvious solution. Why wouldn’t you get people to help out? Collaboration and strategy are key.

Two of the guys from Dublin University even managed to get themselves interviewed on Buenos Aires radio, which got them a ton of publicity. More people knew about the cause, so more people could help out. Transport, accommodation, donations. All sorted. The guys used the power of a network to their advantage, and created an audience to listen to their story.

You can shout from the rooftops all day, but those on the radio will win every time.

Building a product, brand or business should be no different. Even if your new product is outstandingly good, it will only be good to the people who use it. When your starting out with a new project, there is a good chance you don’t have many people using it. You need exposure and a loyal customer base in order to grow. You need an audience.

“If you’ve built a high quality product, you need to hook it up to the fastest engine possible: an engine that’s able to connect you to the right markets.”

-Justin Jackson

A lot of businesses fail simply by moving too slowly, and/or by building the wrong product. They hire a big branding agency to spend 5 months bringing their vision to life, but know nothing about whether people will actually like and use what they are offering. At the same time, a small startup is creating a brand identity in a week, and shipping their free MVP to an excited audience they have grown through social networking. If it takes off, they add resource and expand. If it’s not working, they can quickly pivot and try something new. They are thinking lean, moving fast, and collaborating with networks.

Ideas can go from 0 to 100 at the blink of an eye and the truth is, even spending a million pounds with an agency on branding cannot guarantee success. Today, audiences make products big. The end user has never had as much control, power and influence as one does today. They can make or break you in a single tweet. So design needs to become a numbers game. Little and lots needs to replace the ‘big idea’. And if you can get networks behind the small ideas, your chances of success increase significantly.

Personally, I would rather iterate on an idea as it scales rather than spend a huge amount of time on something that may never work…

– If your business has just started. You may well have the supply, but is there demand? Let’s work together to create an audience.

– If your business is growing, let’s create more. New ideas, new features, maybe even a new identity. We can push your business out to bigger networks.

– If your business is failing, let’s strategise a pivot. If you have an audience that can help, let’s use them to our advantage.

The bottom line is this; audiences are integral to the success of any business. If you can connect what you have to an existing network, you can reap the rewards and move fast. As Julien Smith one said…

“You can’t be outside the network when it is building momentum.
You will lose.”



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