Disclaimer: This is a note to my future self to remind me of why the f&*k I just left the safe harbor of a good paying job in leadership at Wieden+Kennedy to start a company with Nilesh Ashra when it is complete chaos out there and no gig is safe.
Software companies need to build hardware to capture share.
No hardware company succeeds without building digital services.
Brick and Mortar has to get e-commerce sorted…
… and make sure there is no daylight between the two experiences.
Digital natives like Warby Parker and Bonobos need an IRL presence to grow.
Established brands are constantly pushed by rapidly experimenting startups.
Startups invent new ways to get noticed because they can’t just outspend.
And, oh everyday there is another stat on all the ways people are opting out, ignoring or blocking advertising. Good luck trying to win on that turf alone.
None of this is news.
Smart folks have been documenting and breaking down these shifts in the playing field for years. Some of my favorites: This Professor, this Design Evolution Guide, this series of rants: V.1, V.2, V.3, this Encyclopedia, and these two books that connect dots about the larger world in a way that all of us should take notice of.
And still most companies have the same basic needs
Help us drive awareness.
Help us grow.
Help us develop new products to retain share.
Help change the perception of our brand.
So, now what?!?
[insert creativity here]
There is a debate in business circles that you could summarize as Product* vs. Marketing. Product purists will talk about creating value by providing utility for customers through design thinking and service design. Marketing purists will talk about creating value by building narratives that have emotional meaning and building community through empathy and inclusivity.
Taking ‘sides’ on this debate is a complete waste of time. Both brand building strategies have serious merit. And let’s be clear that is what they are: brand building strategies.This is not a zero sum game. Which tools will be most effective is completely dependent on the client, the market and what is going on in culture at that moment.
We’ve experienced this up close. We’ve worked with senior marketers to build experiences that don’t depend on paid media but help deliver their brand message and experience to new audiences. We’ve worked with founders and product heads that know quality digital product requires more than just good, clean UX. These are product people that know that if they lean into creativity and culture they can build a radically better experience not just an incrementally better one.
People expect ever increasing levels of invention, utility, and craft in the brands they choose to give their money to. And those people have so much choice today. This is why we decided to strike out and build a company to help clients evolve marketing through creativity.
We are calling our studio Two Things.
Because there is no single company that has all the answers — so we’ll partner when it makes the work better: us and our network.
And because new processes are required to build what is next — so we’ll embed inside our clients or work independently as needed to make the work better.
And because creativity is often about combining two things that previously weren’t combined — so we’ll combine with unlikely conspirators.
No one has all the answers, so creativity and flexibility are what we are going to bet on.
So this is where we begin. We’ll use this account to document what we learn along the way and to remind us where we’ve started and how far we’ve come.
Here we go…