Old Roads Don't Lead to New Directions

In case you don't already know.. my business partner Paul is perpetually curious about new things... This week he introduced me to Nusli...a nifty new muesli product that seriously grabbed my attention. 

A sneak peak inside the @Omaniblog kitchen as he ogles a Nusli

A sneak peak inside the @Omaniblog kitchen as he ogles a Nusli

At a time when most companies are trying to improve the same old thing (greater efficiencies, more features & benefits) Nusli has succeeded in standing out by creating something new, useful and different. If you are able to do this.. something wonderful happens. Other people start telling your story for you. They're are attracted to your brand, you sell more and save a heap on advertising. This got me thinking why some companies go down the same old roads while others create new directions? The natural tendency is to contain problems, restrict choices in favour of obvious and incremental change. In most organisations its almost as if there are two kinds of thinking at play...

Convergent Thinking

This is when we have an opportunity / problem but we break it down, start refining  it into a tiny ball. It's what our schools focus on and is called STEM thinking.. found in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It's logical and serves us in making choices. It may be more efficient in the short run, but long term it tends to make an organisation more inflexible and vulnerable to a lack of game changing ideas from outside.

 Divergent Thinking 

This involves taking a tiny idea and expanding it outward by looking at ways to connect it to new ideas and diverse things. By creating choices it expands out into a giant sphere. Most creative thinkers, artists and visionaries are by default divergent thinkers. By bringing creativity front and centre they create choices which allows for the introduction of new ideas. 

What's really interesting is that people are deeply suspicious of people who have the opposite type of thinking. Successful businesses are aware of this tension and attuned to synthesising both thinking approaches. 

However in marketing, breakthrough Brands are ONLY created by Divergence that creates new categories rather than convergence or evolution of existing ones.  

A great example of this is Red Bull, whose founder Dietrich Mateschitz discovered the drink which was a popular health tonic called Kraeting Daeng in Thailand. He liked it so much that he decided to launch it in his home country, Austria. He could have bought the rights to the name Kraeting Daeng or perhaps called it ‘Thai Tea’. Instead, he decided to call his beverage an energy drink – thus creating a new category that was simple enough for consumers to understand and connect with. 

Red Bull gives you wings- one of the all time 'hall of fame' brand positionings

Red Bull gives you wings- one of the all time 'hall of fame' brand positionings

Before I get too divergent.. let's bring things back to Nusli. Bord Bia (The irish Food Board) has made a significant investment in creating exportable food products. Since 2009 exports have increased by 40% to €10 billion and food entrepreneurs can benefit from funding and even branding support through the Brand Forum  

Bord Bia has realised that when you export to bigger, more competitive markets your product not only needs to be brilliant but your brand needs to really stand out so that it can become loved and admired. From what we can see Nusli was undoubtedly part of this programme and we feel they're a fantastic example of an Irish food company employing divergent thinking to invent a whole new category for muesli. 

By being more relevant to their customers - understanding that people want healthy choices on the go - they have creates a new niche in the muesli sector. Once you have a first mover advantage...it becomes difficult for competitors to imitate or even enter that sector - unless they have a significant advertising budget...

Here's what we like about Nusli:

  • Strong name: Nusli - a new type of Muesli combined with fruit & yogurt (9/10)
  • Solves a problem: Healthy eating on the move (9/10) 
  • Product Design: Excellent & disruptive - creates a new niche category (9/10)
  • Strong Positioning: 'Eat Clever' shows  that it's innovative in a number of ways. Not just something that sounds good but a promise they can stand over (8/10)
  • Packaging: Small, portable, clever design - includes a spoon like Ben & Jerry's.  Great for kids & adults too. (8/10) 
  • Brand Design: The design is friendly & human with nice use of die cuts. Maybe borrowing a tad  too much from Innocent though? (7/10) Taste: Yummy Yummy (9/10)
Reminiscent of Innocent - Nusli creates a human & friendly feel with hand written fonts, die cuts for the logo, with clear & simple on pack  messaging..

Reminiscent of Innocent - Nusli creates a human & friendly feel with hand written fonts, die cuts for the logo, with clear & simple on pack  messaging..

Owning or being synonymous with its category means that every time a category is referred to the brand gets recognition. The category can even be named after the brand..think Kleenex or Tupperware. By creating a new & clever name like Nusli - they now have the potential to really own their category. The ability to create divergent ideas but also bake them into the product across a number of different aspects - is what creates sustainable advantage.

Nusli have made a great start and we hope to see them grow from strength to strength. So if you're feeling peckish try a Nusli. Or if you feel like you need some new directions for your business or brand call ChangeAgents - we'd love to meet up..