Fast. Succinct. Agile. Seamless. These are the characteristics that define the most admired and desired brands and experiences. It defines the work ethic that Silicon Valley was founded upon and it is the aspiration that most businesses try to achieve today. Amazon Prime and UberEATS use speed and frictionless customer experiences as their competitive advantage. Fast-fashion retailers like ASOS and H&M are trying to shorten the time from runway to store. And fintech companies like PositivityTech are supplying real-time customer complaint data in an effort to help financial services firms respond to customer complaints before they become a systemic problem. You can’t get much faster than that!
Of course, the origin of the speed we’ve grown to expect from brands comes from the advent of the internet. This is further exacerbated by the growth of social media and has given rise to the holistic, integrated, data-driven approach to marketing that has allowed brands to address the gap between the products and services they deliver and their customers’ modern expectations.
But there is more influencing this need for speed: Citizen-reporters can deliver real-time news coverage nearly instantaneously; there are instant downloads for everything; and technology has given QSRs and delivery services shorter and even shorter delivery times. The cultural norms that have developed around speed are plentiful and the competition to be the first and fastest is fierce.
Even the names of companies, old and new, set the expectations for fast and frictionless experiences, from the beloved In-N-Out Burger to upstarts like DoorDash and Zoom.
John Kotter, the author of Accelerate, summed up what organizations need to do to succeed in our Accelerated Economy in his article “How Companies Can Embrace Speed” for Harvard Business Review.
“Follow a set of rules that starts with getting a sense of urgency up– a real sense of strategic urgency about a big opportunity among as many people as possible. And then play that out, constructing a network system and getting people in it, focusing on a strategic initiative that they want to focus on. Make sure they understand that their job is not just to come up with ideas, but to make stuff happen. Get barriers out of the way that make them go slow and (demand) they be fast and agile on their feet.”
Kotter has studied organizations over 25 years and has observed that startling quickness is no longer a nice to have but table stakes for business success. But being fast is only half of the equation. There’s a real business need for companies to move quickly to meet customers’ expectations, but how can they create competitive advantage at the same time?
At RedPeak, my team lives by our mantra “Fast & Smart.” We challenge our organization to work at the speed of business and at the speed of culture, but we do so with discipline and acumen. We dive deep into customer attitudes and behaviors to allow companies to create meaningful connections. We continuously evaluate customer experiences to determine where we can facilitate frictionless interactions. We iterate and adapt to the evolving needs of our clients’ business, all while meeting timelines that challenge expectations of what’s possible. This is “Fast & Smart.”
Together with our clients, we are creating systems to reward quick thinking and risk taking. We have made Fast the expectation, but it is the combination with Smart that helps us stand out in the expectation economy.
About the Author | Susan Cantor
Susan Cantor is the CEO at RedPeak Branding, is a proven agency and client leader with over 20 years of experience in helping companies transform their brands, enter new strategic territories, and launch new offerings. Prior to joining RedPeak in 2015, she served as President and CEO of Lowe Worldwide in New York, and Founder & Chief Executive of brand consultancy CLEARBLUESKY. She has helped some of the world’s most beloved and prominent brands achieve greatness in their categories.