Guide to successful collaboration (part 1: Empowerment)

I’m excited by how new technology empowers social change – and marketing in the slipstream of that. When the ability to control production and distribution of information was a scarce resource, it was easy for brands to influence the way people perceived them. Those days are gone. Production and distribution of information have become abundant. Fueled by cognitive surplus and digital tools, people demand access to brands. For instance, Coca-Cola’s original Facebook page was created by two fans, Dusty and Michael. When Coca-Cola found out how popular the page was, they had to contact Dusty and Michael and ask permission if they could please participate in their own brand! Which they gracefully allowed. I admire brands that embrace collaboration instead of fight it. At Victors & Spoils we recently analyzed over 200 brands and five categories of brands emerged that successfully empower people with collaborative tools:


1. Social media engagement 

This is basically collaboration 101; brands engaging with people in online conversations. Think of Old Spice, Best Buy Twelpforce and Strip To Your SmartWool.

2.  Crowdsourcing 

These are brands that tap into people’s collective brainpower and invite them to submit ideas that deliver against a set of rules - a brief. Think of Pepsi Max & Doritos Crash the Superbowl or Virgin America’s Toronto Provocateur.

3.  Co-creation 

Co-creation involves working on new product and service ideas together with the customers who are going to buy them. An obvious example is My Starbuck, but I’m also really struck by Nike 6.0 ID Nation StyleLab, which effectively turns Nike ID’s original mass customization (people designing their own shoe) into co-creation (people being able to buy shoes that other people designed).

4. Collaborative Consumption 

With crowdsourcing and co-creation people help brands produce better products. But the other side of the coin, collaborative consumption, is also getting more popular, from car-sharing (Zip Car, Greenwheels) and bike-sharing (Vélib, B-Cycle) to group buying power (Groupon, Walmart CrowdSaver).  

5.  Collaborative System 

Finally, new business models are emerging that place collaboration at their core. The brand is shaped by an ecosystem of participants. Successful recent examples are Threadless, AirBnB and American Express OPEN.

 (Next week Part 2: Common Ground)

This post was first published here