Business TEDTalks

10 brand stories from Tim Leberecht’s TEDTalk

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, is credited with saying this first — and in a fast-paced talk from TEDGlobal 2012 University, marketer Tim Leberecht takes Bezos’ observation as a jumping-off point.

“Hyperconnectivity allows companies to be in that room now, 24/7,” says Leberecht. “They can listen and even join the conversation.”

In his talk, Leberecht lays out three rules that brands can use to change how consumers feel about them and, in turn, what consumers say about them. To hear the rules, watch Leberecht’s talk. After the jump, read more about the 10 companies that Leberecht mentions, who embraced these ideals by doing something unexpected.

  1. Patagonia asks consumers not to buy their products. In 2011, the outdoor gear brand Patagonia put out a surprising message to customers: “Don’t buy this jacket.” They took a full-page ad in The New York Times and sent an email that reads, “Today is Cyber Monday. It will likely be the biggest online shopping day ever … Because Patagonia wants to be in business for a good long time — and leave a world inhabitable for our kids — we want to do the opposite of every other business today. We ask you to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else.” Instead of buying something new, the company urged customers to repair the gear they already own. The company also asked that, should anyone decide to buy something new, they pass on their old equipment to others. [The Cleanest Line]
    >
  2. Interflora sends bouquets to customers having a bad day. The British flower delivery service Interflora came up with a creative way to show consumers that they were, in fact, always in the room. In 2010, the company launched a campaign that monitored Twitter for customers who expressed that they were having a terrible day. From there, the company not only tweeted a cheer-up message to them, but sent them a surprise bouquet. The campaign director, Simon Collister, explained the rationale, saying, “You need to listen to people’s needs and respond in a human, empathetic way.” [Marketing Magazine]
    .
  3. Semco lets employees set own hours … and salary. At the Brazilian manufacturing company Semco, employees do not have to work 9 to 5. They are empowered to set their own hours that mesh more completely with their lives. Similarly, employees are asked to set their own salaries — they even pick their own bosses. The company has held this policy for the past 27 years. [Suite 101]
    .
  4. Radiohead lets fans set the price for their album. In 2007, the band Radiohead announced that they would be releasing a new album, In Rainbows. But rather than sell it through traditional channels, they were making it available on their website — and allowing consumers to set their own price for the download. The move was risky. And when the band shared the results of the experiment a year later, they found that, yes, the majority of fans chose to pay nothing for the album. But, other fans more than made up for the freebies. The album brought in more money than the band’s previous major-label release, Hail to the Thief. [NME]
    .
  5. Anthon Berg sells chocolates for good deeds. Last March, Danish confectioner Anthon Berg set up a pop-up store with a twist — customers paid for boxes of chocolate by promising to do a good deed for someone they love. At “The Generous Store,” boxes of chocolates wore price tags that read, “Serve breakfast in bed to your loved one” or “Don’t lie to your dad for a week.” Rather than swiping a credit card, customers paid by posting their intention on Facebook. [Dogo News]
    .
  6. Netflix offers employees unlimited vacation. Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, wrote an article in Business Week earlier this year titled “How to Set Your Employees Free,” to explain his rationale behind giving employees as many vacation days as they want to take. “We focus on what people get done, not on how many days they worked,” he wrote. While Netflix’s policy may not be all-new — IBM has had a similar policy since 2003  – many more companies have recently adopted this policy, including Hulu, Morningstar, Motley Fool and HubSpot. [CNN]
    .
  7. Microsoft supports hacking. Microsoft learned an important lesson in 2010 when it released Kinect, a motion-sensing device that allows users to communicate with the Xbox 360 through gestures. The device caught the attention of open-source programmers, and the community set its sights on creating drivers for it. At first, Microsoft said it would be working closely with law enforcement to keep the system from being hacked. But that stance changed when Microsoft recognized that encouraging Kinect hackers was a lot more fun. [Mashable] Here, 14 Kinect hacks. [Toms Guide]
    .
  8. KLM makes happiness strike again. Dutch airline KLM launched a campaign in 2010 that was all about “little acts of kindness” toward customers. When a random customer checked into the airline via FourSquare, their social media profiles were scanned for insight into what they might like as a surprise — champagne, a watch, a set of notebooks, specialty foods. One customer, a soccer fan on his way to New York City, was given a Lonely Planet guide with all the great soccer bars highlighted for him. [The Next Web]
    .
  9. Frog encourages employee speed-meeting. Leberecht is very proud of an initiative his own company, frog, has instituted. To make sure that no divide grows between older and newer employees, the marketing and design firm holds regular speed-meeting sessions, where employees can talk one-on-one with people who might otherwise be out of their orbit. [Conference Basics]
    .
  10. American Express turns travel into a game. While some travelers want every detail of their trip planned out far in advance, American Express recognized that lots of travelers embrace last-minute adventure. Earlier this year they launched Nextpedition, a travel feature whereby a cardholder answers 15 questions about how they like to travel. From there, the service creates an ideal trip, keeping all the details of where the cardholder is going and what they’re doing a secret until just before the plane takes off. [Travel and Leisure]

Comments (25)