canada

A Big Thank You to Molson Coors Canada, Pelmorex Media Inc., Petro-Canada Lubricants and Masque Bar Beauty (England)

We’d like to thank these incredible companies for choosing to join Spyder Works’ growing list of blue chip clients in 2014.  While their shapes, sizes and assignments are different, we are truly grateful for the singular trust that they have shown in our team.

At Spyder Works, we applaud (and love working with) action-oriented organizations.  They focus their abilities on acquiring and serving customers right now.  We open up new possibilities by helping those organizations to think and to act longer term.  Our value is to help them to enjoy better conversations and build more meaningful relationships with their customers and people as springboards for their future success.

Since our inception over 20 years ago, as a leading provider of creative design, we have been through the same transformative process ourselves. Spyder Works has evolved into a comprehensive provider of integrated business and design strategy, brand exploration and communication.

Our firm is grounded in three practices — brand, innovation and performance.

Brand is about building customer relationships. Innovation is about keeping them fresh. Performance is about keeping your team engaged in and delivering on the relationship’s promise. Together, they generate powerful, organization-changing ideas and difference-making implementation.

Launching a new brand? Grappling with a specific, skill-testing question or leading your organization through a fully transformative process?

At Spyder Works, we partner with national and international organizations and visionary entrepreneurs to articulate and to solve the business and brand challenges that keep you up at night.

Spyder Works.  Building Business by Design®.

No comments

Americans want to be Bill Gates. Canadians want to be careful

Originally published on July 15, 2014 as a Guest Column in The Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-digital/innovation/why-improv-comedy-is-the-key-to-business-success/article19072177/

Someone recently asked me if I found any differences between the audiences I speak to in Canada and the U.S. The answer is yes. “Americans want to be Bill Gates. Canadians want to be careful.”

I’m not sure why this is. While Canadians are known for their more conservative approach in general, our entrepreneurs were at least as daring as the Americans’ in opening up the West, building the national railway, and pushing back the frontiers of communications, medicine, and technology. Still, when I speak about entrepreneurship and innovation in the U.S., there’s buzz about success and fortune; you can almost hear the American Dream springing to life. In Canada, however, the word entrepreneur is still painfully associated with the term ‘small business.’

Across Canada, at cocktail parties and banker’s offices, our should-be heroes of industry and innovation are still too often dismissed as wild risk-takers who needlessly put their savings and financial security on the line. But entrepreneurship is so much more than that. Businesses that employ fewer than 500 people in North America have accounted for two-thirds of job growth in the past 10 to 20 years. The dreamers and the risk-takers are the growth engine that drive our economies. So let’s not label the entrepreneurs behind these businesses and the opportunities they pursue ‘crazy.’ Rather, let’s go with ‘crazy important.’

Still, there is something to be said for the Canadian approach to entrepreneurship. While we need more people to take initiative and champion change, there’s merit in doing so conservatively. I like to advise entrepreneurs to dream big, but proceed with caution. What exactly does this mean? There is never a shortage of opportunities in business; they’re everywhere. The key to success lies not in putting all your hopes — and life’s savings — into the first Big Idea you see, but in taking time to define the very best venture you will actually choose to pursue.

In last month’s column, I addressed the process of bringing together your team to generate great new business ideas. We talked about the power of the group dynamic and the “Yes, and…” process that enables your team to generate a wall of Post-It notes full of ideas.

Once you’ve done that, however, you need to begin culling those ideas into a manageable short list. More importantly, your ideas should be relevant to you, your business and your prospective customers.

Sounds obvious, I know, but judging by the number of times that I read about companies selling off non-core assets or dropping unprofitable clients, I realize that dreams of glorious short-term returns too often overcome solid analytical thinking.

I approach opportunity assessment with a rigorous, three-pronged approach. I like to rank each business opportunity according to three criteria: global (which includes ensuring that each new idea aligns with your company’s high-level, strategic direction, its vision, its mission, and so on), sales and marketing (rigorously identifying the ideal customer, target markets, time-to-market, and the competitive landscape) and financial (analyzing the projected top-line revenue, contribution, productivity ratios, net profit, and so on). The bracketed examples are, of course, only a few of the concepts you need to think through; there are many others that your team will think of or may already have in place.

Before anyone on your team gets carried away by a shiny new idea, it’s extremely important that you rank each opportunity you are considering against all three of these criteria. Don’t fall into the trap of saying, “this is a great idea, even though it’s not in keeping with the long-term vision of the company. I’ll worry about getting back on-strategy next quarter.”

Unless you rank new opportunities thoroughly and objectively, ruthlessly matching them to your strategy and capabilities, you will have little chance of converting even the best new ideas into successful and highly profitable new products.

The moral of the story? Embrace the American dream, believe in the possibility of success, but exercise good old Canadian caution along the way.

No comments

What do we want Made in Canada to mean to consumers?

Made In Canada Enamel Sign

‘Economic Action Plan 2014 announces that a private sector steering committee will be established to lead the development of a “Made-in-Canada” consumer awareness campaign.

‘…To help address the interests of consumers and highlight the quality and range of Canadian products, as we compete in more diverse export markets, the Government will undertake consultations with the private sector to develop a “Made-in-Canada” branding campaign…’

As a proud Canadian, my right-off-the-top-of-my-head reaction to this proposed campaign is wildly enthusiastic.  After all, we are most excellent shooters of pucks, drinkers of beer and extractors of petroleum.  We are growers of wheat, sayers of  “I’m sorry” and exporters of Arctic air masses.  We are Canadians and right now, at least, our national identity is about our success at hockey and freestyle athletes who spend much of their time in the air, upside down.  But this is more than own the podium.  This is a sustainable increase in sales.

The first of my whole cranium full of questions about this campaign has to do with who we are targeting.    The stated purpose is consumer awareness.  But to me, any Made in Canada program has to win the hearts and will of both manufacturers and their customers who each must believe that a Made in Canada logo will add cachet to whatever they’re trying to sell.   As Canadians, we love our country.  We’re proud of our country.  But, we’re also savvy enough to realize that a Made in Canada program has to stand for something beyond red mittens and waving the flag.

If we’re consulted at Spyder Works, and I hope we are, my first concern would be confusing Canada-the-country with Canada-the-manufacturer, exporter and purveyor of customer satisfaction.   Which positive attributes of a successful country contribute to the positive attributes of a brand?  Do Canadian companies reflect where they live?  And another question I have is whether Made in Canada is the same as Imagined in Canada ?  We have increasingly become a knowledge economy but many of our inventions, inspirations and innovations are actually made in China, or Mexico, or India.

If we are to put aside the Olympic celebration and ask what Canada really stands for, what are we really selling here?  On the plus side, we are an inclusive and diverse society that makes an honest effort to take compassionate care of our citizens.  We are brave peacekeepers.  We are well educated, creative and open-minded.  We are home to many well known global brands in many different categories like Lululemon, Roots, G Adventures, Bombardier, Blackberry, Agrium and Magna.   We are friendly and polite.  We are active and activists.

We talk a lot about innovation, but I don’t think the world necessarily notices.  But maybe, most noteworthy of all, with a population of 34 million, we are not a big country.  We are not Walmart or Home Depot.  We are more like a boutique with a hundred locations and we are not going to undersell anyone.  Maybe that’s what we need to talk about.  What is it about our Made in Canada boutique and Made in Canada logo that could excite our own Canadian companies, Canadian consumers and the rest of the world?

No comments