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The Influencers

Creative Destruction of the Status Quo

INFLUENCER: StrawberryFrog’s Scott Goodson on how brands are shaking things up by being ‘rebels with a cause’

Creative Destruction of the Status Quo

By being ‘rebels with a cause,’ brands like Airbnb, Warby Parker, Amazon and others have created new marketplaces, but more than that they’ve created movements. As I observed in my book ‘Uprising,’ movements are what attract people “…hungry for meaning, authenticity, sense of belonging, and purpose…beginning to engage with and shape culture around them as opposed to being passive consumers of culture created for them by others.” 

More and more companies are finally recognising that they need to stand for something in order to create a deep psychological attachment with their stakeholders. More than purpose, they need to create movements.

It is the movement, not just the marketplace, that will enable Uber’s new management, for example, to defy negative momentum, bad reputation and the traditional economic principles of scarcity and operate as a catalyst for growth. 

The other week, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote an open letter apologizing for “mistakes we’ve made” following the announcement by London’s transport regulator that it was withdrawing licensing from Uber — having deemed it as “not fit and proper to operate.”

In this apology to his own people, he is laying the groundwork to attract old customers and new tiers of non-customers to the Uber movement - perhaps beyond its former self and category. 

It will be fascinating to watch Uber as they work on their movement inside and outside their company to reignite the passion of their existing fans and community. Although I must say that during its rough patch I have been personally rooting for the underdog, Lyft, which seems to be the nicer and humbler brother of Uber. However with Uber on its knees, I am not really inspired by how Lyft ignited its movement. It’s been marketing its services but it hasn’t ignited my passion, or even convinced me to give them a try, even with the discounts and free rides. I am also confused about why a company whose vision is to eliminate vehicle ownership would enter into a strategic alliance with GM, the world’s largest vehicle maker. Of course, it’s a smart move on GM’s part, as in addition to providing it with a distribution channel for its vehicles, it enhances its brand equity and gives it a seat at the table of a company trying to disrupt its vehicle sales business.

But getting back to the passion for a moment, what strikes me most about this new era is the ‘rebel with a cause’ founders creating movements that move people. Success, now more than ever, hinges on a company building more than just a marketplace. It needs to create a movement – and that starts with the company being, most importantly, a 'rebel with a cause'.