Neil Barrie of 21st Century Brand looks at how incumbents think about disruption and how they can disrupt themselves
Transcript by Otter.ai
Adam Pierno 0:19
Alright, welcome back to another episode of the strategy inside everything. This is a this is an international edition now it wasn’t when we scheduled it. But today’s guests has recently relocated back to the UK just in time for all the festivities and fun that’s happening there right now.
Neil Barrie 0:37
That’s right Adam.
Adam Pierno 0:40
It’s an exciting time for sure. Today’s guest is the co founder and global managing partner of 21st Century Brand. Mr. Neil Barrie, how are you sir?
Neil Barrie 0:50
I’m very well. Thank you, Adam. Very well. And you
Adam Pierno 0:54
No, I’m honored to have you so we we were able to have a couple of talks before we started recording. And I can tell the listeners that they are in for a treat here. And the reason they’re going to know that immediately is Neil, would you if they’re not familiar with you already, would you mind giving people a little bit of background into your career and kind of what you’ve done leading up to founding 21st century brand?
Neil Barrie 1:16
So yeah, a few things to know about me that a useful number one is, I’m a failed rock star. I spent seven years of my kind of 20s I had a misguided epiphany, a radio gig back in the day when I was interviewing them, and it was like me and another guy, really into music. You know, sort of talented but nowhere near radio ads.
Yeah, we should do this. This this is exactly what we should do. Other than being sort of like these guys are God. And so, so he’s going to get good. He is releasing records and touring
Europe and doing us a great great enjoy. things and taking lots of boxes and tons of dreams but not making enough money to last. So I switched over, I guess a more commercial type of creativity whereas a bit less oversupplied in the London music scene, and when I was actually I guess quite old compared to all your listeners, maybe I was 29 and started working in in brand and communications strategy so talked my way into it a bit, but ended up being something I had a real sort of affinity for and passion for and works. Probably the most, the most influential places that I work was first was BBH, the London ad agency, a brilliant storied agency strategy, they take strategy as seriously as as life or death.
Adam Pierno 2:46
It is a religion at BBH
Neil Barrie 2:48
Yeah, it is. I was talking to someone about that today. And he, he actually you know, you take as you’re building your career, you ready take things from different places kind of consciously and unconsciously and from that moment onwards, One of the first thing that starts out oh my god, these guys take it is life or death way or ripping someone apart who come in with a wrong sort of insight. I want everybody but it’s all me that you It’s such a responsibility, I should you’re going to say you’re a strategist, I’m going to put that in your title. And actually expound on that to people and you got to take it really seriously was not taking yourself too seriously. But taking the craft seriously. And I learned a lot from there. I was actually in their ventures division called Zag so that the whole remit there was to really shift the balance of the aces bottom line from being completely dependent on client revenues to having bottle quarter dependent on IP share of success, stakes and companies. And so I’m sorry, it was a really good kind of grounding and commercial credit show. We raise money for companies, we invent our own product and do partnerships. We IPOs something. So I learned a lot really, really quickly that
Adam Pierno 3:54
that’s exciting. You can’t learn that stuff without that kind of hands on opportunity.
Neil Barrie 3:59
Yeah, it was really Just trying to convince investors quite early on to investing in brands, it gives you a different perspective on how to talk about brand strategy in a way, which is really, really down to earth and simple, but really, you know, rooted in truth and rooted in what and where and how brands can grow. And not to dress it up so much. I think that was quite influential to me. And I didn’t had it out. After really good four years, they’re headed out to the west coast, I got so into tech Do you know doing these partnerships and doing these innovations that I really wanted to try out the West Coast because it was so much going on obsessed with Fast Company and all the, you know, all the new wave of companies that seem to be changing the world and I went out to LA to work with sharp day strategy department and ended up pitching into their global Airbnb business back in 2014. That ended up being like a really significant journey for me in my life, because I just coming into that company at that moment when they were still you know, sort of they still have their you know, somewhere So quirky backpacker business growing quickly, but but weren’t really a brand and the new cmo at the time, Jonathan No, no. And the new global marketing director, Alex didn’t care and just just joined when we pitched in. So I, I kind of bonded with them when we want and just that journey, we went on kind of creating and developing the brand, they’re working with the leadership there, and they’re just expanding the product at the same time. And then what an
Adam Pierno 5:23
interesting time to be there. And I think the theme of your of your career that I’m hearing so far is just great timing to be having these experiences.
Neil Barrie 5:32
Well, that Yeah, that was uh, yeah, I mean, definitely let you know, luck is a mixture of I don’t know, Sarah, serendipity and really, really hard work and definitely had you know, both of those out there and that was very formative and ended up cut a long story short, enjoying the Airbnb thing so much and just what you can do when you put brand and a really progressive tech product together with visionary leadership, when it goes Right can just be incredibly powerful. And we realized, you know, we can try and make a business out of doing this is quite a lot of circumstances. We’re saying Airbnb, we were as we’re quite common, in particular on the west coast, but also in places like Berlin and London, and we thought about what we’re going to make a business out of it. It’s not easy. WordPress is quite brutal at times, because it’s such a difference and philosophies often between the tech companies in the traditional world worlds of marketing in terms of just language and our look at how you measure growth and a measure of success and all of that, but when you really get to work together, it is brilliant, and actually, quite needed for a lot of companies is scaling. So I believe so we founded we decided to 21st century brands ago,
Adam Pierno 6:42
just about 18 months ago. And Neil is is that the founding pin of 21st century brands, the the alignment of brand and, and forward thinking technology and solution or or what is the
Neil Barrie 6:55
Yeah, I think I think that that’s the core of what we’re trying to do.
A mission or purpose is is to really create the most influential brands of our time help create them, not what I’m thinking grandly, but really, really do that and, and companies that can really have a lasting positive influence on on the way that people live and work and, and, and we think that’s a it’s a really powerful combination when done right so that’s that’s really what we’re all about and we work all the brands we work with are definitely innovative and progressive we were we were the leaders and founders of a lot of some of the most innovative companies
Adam Pierno 7:39
yeah and through the through the journey you just walked us through, thank you for taking us through that through your career being at sag and then your your leadership with Airbnb and working with that team at that perfect time when they were really maturing into from a an idea into a brand and what about And that’s become a You must have seen this idea of disruption. And then especially Zag is kind of founded on going the other way and, and trying to find a way into to disrupt and what I wanted to talk to you today is about the other side of disruption. Because you have also work on incumbent brands.
Neil Barrie 8:21
Yeah, yeah, that’s, I really like the you said that, because that’s, that’s really I think there’s been so much written about, you know, the disruptors and the new breed of companies but what about that and so much obsession with startups you know, and every and everything but what about the kind of long term the end up so whatever, you know, the companies though, can really enjoy and last and disrupt themselves I think as a fascinating topic.
Adam Pierno 8:45
Well, because even Airbnb, you were working with them way back in ’14, which seems like forever ago in history that brand,
Neil Barrie 8:53
don’t use these companies. So yeah,
Adam Pierno 8:56
yeah, exactly. I guess they’re measured in quarters, but They but that company now is the entrenched incumbent in that space that it created that it disrupted what was ahead of it. And now it’s the entrenched brand. So my question is, as you were working with them, were they giving thought to what might build up underneath them? And the the challenges they might face from other potential disruptors or how, what was their thinking about that?
Neil Barrie 9:30
And they definitely were, I think, Brian Chesky, he is he’s a very, you know, amazing guy, incredibly bullish and I don’t think I ever heard him say he was worried, but I never heard him really and he was worried about anything, to be honest. That wasn’t really the way he wrote, but he was always looking over the horizon. And the next thing I’m very restless and so, you know, they they were disrupting them within within a year and a half. You know, they were disrupting themselves. Pretty much In terms of like, they were very much a pure accommodations platform, you know, sharing, or we just very simple business model, we say we say arrives upon, and works brilliantly with that, within two years, it was very much an ambition to go much beyond that and be kind of the owners of our trip, and be about experiences and all the fluids, different things. And, and that required quite a lot of internal disruption. And which had, you know, which I think, was not always easy, but for those guys, but I think what was good and it’s one of the reasons One of the things is really important, whether you’re an incumbent or you know, a new 21st century brand is knowing the lens through which you’re trying to disrupt because it can be very disruptive, most business it’s very easy to identify the need to disrupt this out, you know, I worked in advertising for those six years. industry is hugely aware of it’s a lot harder to know how to do it confidently, and with and with and with vision and the way that she can still build confidence in the organization and I think with that being big, they had You know, there’s such a clear sense of mission and purpose back in terms of belonging, belonging, and, and in a world where anyone can belong anywhere that gives a real lens to, to disruption. So all of those changes that were made, you know, introducing trips, introducing experiences introducing tips on the platform, they can book gigs now, you know, it’s a very, very different experience. So the one you got, and even three years ago, but it’s all still very much in service of belonging, which is always was both a real, you know, classic, you know, good brand purpose. It’s a real human need, which is more important than ever and the real competitive advantages of traveling on Airbnb, they’ll never be the most convenient, you know, way to travel but if you can work out as best you can find an experienced risky move along it, certainly compared to living in a, you know, stay in a hotel where you’re quite immersed in a little bubble of your own rather than
Adam Pierno 11:57
absolutely, can you you brought up at eight And there’s been think pieces and and you know plenty of YouTube videos and content of people saying we need to disrupt this industry. And at its core it’s a pretty simple maybe not as distilled as Airbnb is brand purpose or mission, but advertising at its core should be somewhat single sentence. You know, simplicity. But it seems that in that industry, the industry as a whole has had trouble figuring out how to help itself and individual agencies except you know, save a few have really struggled with figuring out how to either disrupt themselves or or move themselves and protect from being disrupted by all this new all these changes.
Neil Barrie 12:47
Yeah, no, it’s it’s very tough. I think, you know, the middle is going out the industry I think, and you’re still seeing the great, great quality providers, you can charge your premium and produce amazing lateral leaps of creativity and do brilliant work. And then you’re seeing a huge, you know, huge amounts of scrappier, cheaper, faster, smaller players, you know, and and I think both of those ends of the market will thrive. And there’s a massive need for both of those with the middle is a really dangerous place to be at it. And it’s hard and just, it’s the perfect storm and lots of different things, which I’m sure that, you know, some of your previous guests have talked about it at length. But it’s Yeah, it’s, it’s a challenging one.
Adam Pierno 13:32
You know, you just said something interesting about the middle is a dangerous place to be. And as I think about disruption, and that that’s usually where it comes up, you know, almost right through the center. Someone figures out a way to to push everything in the middle off to one side or the other and make them choose make them make that choice to provide for one solution or the other, or to behave in one way or another and kind of get them out of a all things to all people mode. How do you how do you work with that knowledge and an incumbent brand?
Neil Barrie 14:11
And sorry, you just talked to a bit more about your point there about the middle just so I understand the question.
Adam Pierno 14:20
Yeah, sure. So I mean, it seems like what you’re saying is, you know, Airbnb has a really clear point of view. Yeah. And the brands that are disruptive that could be businesses that are disrupted usually are occupying some safe middle ground is the key to not being disrupted to not to have a very pointed point of view like Peloton would be very tough to disrupt because they’ve aligned their product market fit and their brand is so straight line, that it’ll be hard for another player to come in with a with a product that’s just like there’s
Neil Barrie 14:56
Yeah, I think that’s definitely part I mean, I think you are going to get just I think one of the things is you are going to get disrupted because I think whatever category you’re in now, there’s so much – the tools are so much more available. People are kind of stealing talent from each other all the time. And I look at any in the tech industry, you know, everyone’s drawing from the same pool of engineers, and product folks, and so on. And so it’s difficult to really not be to maintain a complete, you know, sort of white space from pure tech IP or whatever. Like, there’s always going to be people coming after you because there’s so much sharing of knowledge, everything so transparent now. I think the brands are the best place to cope with it, and whoever’s disrupt themselves in the right way. I think Well, for me, obviously thought a lot about about this because, you know, 21st century bronzes was what we are, what we’re trying to help work with the most definitive ones and greatness depends upon to the century so For us this kind of forward to these are the kind of the truly sustained influential brands of this century will have, we believe, which is, firstly, to that purpose lead, you know, which is really meaningful purpose data can drive the business but also drive a really a positive impact on the communities that they serve. That’s that’s a huge thing for companies. Secondly, that they’re really thinking about being community driven, not just not just customer focused on not just thinking about, you know, selling to consumers really thinking about the communities and the that they serve, and that are better their ecosystem and making sure that the right incentives are there. So that’s the second thing running. Companies can really withstand disruption if they have that. The third is technology and a lot of tech enables that they really do have a world class data driven product, sale and connected motion you doesn’t mean that our tech company but they have, you know, but I recently Strong technology as part of their competitive advantage, you know, that you see that in also sectors, you know, possible foods will be on meet some of the most hyped and fastest growing companies in terms of valuation right now are very much tech enabled tech companies. And then the fourth thing I think, is that they’ve got their narrative base, they’ve got a really strong shared narrative and story that’s interesting that can get get breakthrough that can be iconic in the right way. And if businesses have those four things and really work on excellence and those those four things, and then they’ll be better place to both withstand disruption and also disrupt themselves in the in the right way. And me back to the Airbnb example of knowing, you know, why they were disrupting?
Adam Pierno 17:43
Yeah, let’s go let’s go through those from the point of view of an incumbent that maybe you know, is a is an older legacy brand that wasn’t built on these pillars and and so let’s talk about purpose because you see a lot of brands a lot of times So I should say, trying to figure out how to align themselves with purpose and sort of what did they call it at Kansas or they call it woke Washington. Yeah, just sort of just slapping a sticker on there that says we support this and you know 10% of what we do goes to this cause but it’s not really purpose built that’s Yeah,
Neil Barrie 18:21
that’s right. I think it was it was great. Um, this account is is you know, is brilliant and terrible like you know, an equal measure because there has been I think the industry’s got into a quite a bad habit of these kind of emotional films and wanting a one off well meaning but but but quiet insignificant or will miss looking at one off emotional anecdotal acts, you know, so it’s not the same as just saying something. It’s like, you’ll go and do what we’ve done this great thing and India with this one isolated product. So this is a one example but it’s not really Okay here and meaningful drive drive to actually be purpose driven is more of a, here’s a really emotional story to make a certain constituent. Feel good. And so I thought was great. I’ll enjoy the new the new CEO of Unilever when it came out and said that it was a powerful challenge to the rest of the industry. I thought and just, you know, he made a powerful statement. I think that basically said, We have about 30 brands, a Unilever right now, which are really, really meaningfully purpose driven and where they’re got a very clear message is driving both meaningful action which is helpful for the world helpful to society goals are driving commercial growth. And, you know, I want the rest of the portfolio to be the same or or or maybe they’ll be the book be serious. Talk about divesting a lot of those and he came out and said that public on Bloomberg, and I think if I they said it was about 30 years, it was about statement because you notice automatic hundred and 70 plus brands and that
Adam Pierno 20:03
was I found that to be pretty brave and and normal, I’m highly skeptical person in general of those kind of statements but that he put a number to it and it wasn’t just purpose is great and purposes and look at dove we have this great example but he actually quantified today we’ve got this many that are that are on the right path. And there’s another huge chunk hundred and 40 or whatever it is that maybe we’ll just have to punt. Maybe they just don’t work.
Neil Barrie 20:33
Right. Yeah, I agree with you. And I think I think it’s a good tradition. Now. I think it’s not out of the blue for them. Like Paul Polman was a huge proponent of sustainability. And I know, I think gave a lot of heart to, to, to, to, to the industry, to the to the NGOs, who’ve been watching waiting for the industry to make meaningful progress. And he he would just introduce a new level of transparency, I think in terms of the targets that he was sending in the lab. The ambition and the transparency for she was setting top to save the soviet union labor, which which really challenged everyone else, I think they do have a bit of a heritage of helping lead there. And I think they’re a good example of the sorts of things that you need to do as an incumbent to keep to withstand disruption. I think making those public declarations is a good way of just making sure that you’re going to be held accountable, you know, that that gives huge momentum,
Adam Pierno 21:30
especially in news forums like Bloomberg, as opposed to on a stage I can where it’s, you know, you’re talking to yourself, essentially, going out into the public and saying, it is a different thing. Saying it to investors is a different thing.
Neil Barrie 21:42
Right. Exactly. So, so I think, you know, that that’s really encouraging. Do you
Adam Pierno 21:48
think in your experience when I when we talk about purpose, and we talked about it as a shield against disruption? Does it does purpose have to be for a given brand does it have to be a unique purpose that no one else has? Or does it just have to make sense for the brand? Or, you know, what are the what are the guard rails around it that you have seen work? And if any failures or flops, you know, what’s what have you seen not work?
Neil Barrie 22:17
You’re always you’re kind of triangulating a few. Three things really, which is obviously what what is what are we good at what we meaningfully? Where do we mean we have competitive advantage, what’s in our pipeline in terms of technology, and so on. And also was a big interest in the company’s kind of DNA. And so and all of that, and, you know, I’m a big believer in that. So you looking at that, you’re looking at what the communities that you serve, and you want to serve really need that the attentions of their feeling right now. And then you’re looking at what the competition’s to your point about what the competition’s really excelling in, what they’re communicating and so on a new and you’re balancing those three things. And the right answer lies between those those three things
Adam Pierno 23:03
what right and it’ll it’ll vary by business
Neil Barrie 23:06
by business and I think that’s the other slight variable with regarding with a lot of the tech companies that we work was actually just found literally the founders themselves they’re credibly attached to the business to invite dominant than their own archetype and DNA and our own founding things own personal traits actually really important I think it’ll work as well because that the leader you know, the three things I just talked about a critical filters for it but another thing is just kind of the way that you go about creating that purpose which is you have to believe signed up from the start to the process they have to be involved because I am a I’m very wary of reversing purpose in from marketing which is kind of the way it got done quite a lot. I think us yeah, it’s and it’s just really hard to do you can do it you know, I’ve been there you know, you you have a great in previous places you have worked in marketing really well. best intentions, and then you kind of you then have, you know, really strong pitch to the rest of leadership team in the CI, we’re not gonna have a guard so it’s just rejected or if you win them over in the moment, but they’re not the hands on it the fingerprints on it so soon as it’s tested, which you will be because there’s always good reasons not to pursue it, you have to sacrifice some people. And it starts to fall apart quite a lot. Whereas if they really invest in it, they’ve argue about it, they’ve debated it, they’ve been in the Google Docs working on it, then they they’re much more accountable, and they’ll be better as well. There’s simple, simple nuances when how to convince it. You know, you had an engineering we Chief Product officer or chief people officer about that purpose, simple nuances of language, which you don’t even really understand if you’re coming straight from marketing you want you want to get that but they they iron those things out and they can really work with it. So I think that’s as well as the filters. It’s the journey you go on and making sure it’s a leadership thing and as a company thing, not just a marketing thing or otherwise is you know can be great storytelling for a year or two, but it’s probably unlikely to to drive business meaningfully and isn’t really, you know, worthy of the name of mission or purpose. And I think that’s where a lot of companies end up running into trouble because people can smell it. You had some big, high profile things.
Adam Pierno 25:18
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s like, it’s like rotten, it’s like rotten meat. It’s like, you know, and right away when it’s not when something’s off.
Neil Barrie 25:26
Yeah, and I think the difference is out of now that, you know, industry insiders, you know, you and your listeners will always be able to smell it, but now I think you just got a generation, you actually will call call it out. You know, and I don’t they’re not marketing savvy. They’re just much more clued up. And I was when I was 18 or 20. And will call companies out there and you’d have, you know, the Pepsi’s and the engineers and people with the best intentions. Having Shockers in this area.
Adam Pierno 25:55
Yeah, well, let’s talk narrative. I think next because that plays right into And then so the year if you have a real purpose, it’s hard for someone to come at you and, and reveal anything or disrupt in that way. How does the narrative? How do you think about narrative from the purpose of a brand and incumbent brand? That is, you know, defending territory? Is there a difference in, you know, for an established brand versus a disrupting brand or a startup brand?
Neil Barrie 26:32
Yeah, yeah, that there is because you’re, you know, you’re already a known quantity, you know, it’s harder to be it’s, it’s much easier for for smaller, smaller businesses, I’ve been an up and coming businesses to challenge meaningfully because you can, you know, you can have a coke of the way things are done, you can have a crack at the industry, you can have a but you can, you know, as a well established practice to have a go at the, you know, place to place your narrative on attacking whatever the leader is, and it’s faults. And I think, you know, lots of businesses have been built really well that that that way instead of communications, right from Avis onwards, and I think you’ve got it, you’ve got to take a different, you can still be challenging. If you’re, if you’re an incumbent, but you’re, it’s probably a higher order sort of challenge of challenging against the cultural assumption which needs to be taught, you know, I mean, Doug Doug’s a really nice example of an incumbent brand, which, you know, took a stance on something which is much more of a cultural issue around, you know, the UTM being a source of insecurity. And I think that that was a brilliant now, you know, basis narrative, based on a really simple, important 10 tension and just tragic truth, which was that for a lot of women beauty was a source of insecurity. And so then trying to make it so much more as a source of confidence. And there was an A progress they made in terms of casting and messages, and a lot The the support systems they put in place alongside it for women were really, I think, a great example of narrative and action coming together from an incumbent brand.
Adam Pierno 28:13
And that’s, that’s such a good example because they were really doing it for a long time. I mean, right, it’s been 20 years of that, that sentiment in their in their brand. I wonder, the way that people come to that category, if how, how much I remember seeing it as a kind of a new message, you know, way back in the 90s. I’m old when they started that campaign, and when they started turning towards that, and thinking, Oh, that’s a new that’s a new take. I’ve never thought of that that way before. But now I wonder as women are maturing and coming into that category and looking at beauty products and looking at you know, grooming products, if now That is kind of face value. And so now that’s ripe for disruption. You know, they’ve been so consistent with it that does it start to get glossed over and now that’s table stakes.
Neil Barrie 29:11
Yeah, I know even when you say glossed over it, I think there’s a new wave of brands are just acting like they’re just acting like that now, without even having to say like last glossier, right right now, an arrow really going back to the kind of community driven aspects of the most influential brands of the future. They are just inherently built on their community, the products are shaped by their community, the community advocates and ready to advertise I got the, the, the way that they’ve harnessed their fan base and built really the business from that is incredible and and it’s a very, it feels very natural in their and their version of beauty feels much more, you know, just miles away from duty is here without even ever being a statement. You know, about They’re just doing it. So agree that that was that was right then and that was disruptive then and what’s going to be disrupted now as it is differently? It keeps, it keeps changing? And is that true and technology to do you think that
Adam Pierno 30:17
you know you that a brand like that sets the bar reframes the entire category, and then it becomes little girl. That’s the entry level. That’s the entry point for any new brand. We don’t even have to talk about that as a point of difference. And so now you’ve declawed. You know, the the category leader is that I’m sure that applies to technology as well, where we’re so used to the Uber experience on our apps that everybody’s app, even if it’s not a mobile service better be as slick as that.
Neil Barrie 30:48
Yeah. Now, with every big wave of empowerment, you know, there tends to be quite a big shadow. Unfortunately, often there’s also a shadow of that empowerment. which is which is also proving quite harmful. I’m so there’s always opportunity for brands to correct you know, there’s a self correction, I think which happens with with tech which I’ve seen that by first hundred one of our,
Unknown Speaker 31:13
one of our
Neil Barrie 31:15
founding clients is Pinterest. And, and there you know they’re they’ve grown at a slower rate than then Facebook or Instagram and it’s been decided that they’re really having a moment right now partly because I think people need that that there are a real counterbalance to a lot of the the established norms of the way that we spend our social time on our phones ZU know, working, working with them and really understand spending quite a lot of time with users of Pinterest and I’m saying how they use Instagram, how they use Facebook and how they fell on some different platforms is just the kind of comparison side of a lot of the, you know, amazing platforms obviously and grounded and comfortable in so many ways in terms of you can connect to people you can see what people are doing. But it just leads to so much. So comparison epidemic, which has been well documented. Now there’s quite a lot of challenges around that, if it gets out of hand, people can still be powerful. And, and Pinterest is an interesting example of a product which is it’s much more about thinking about your own future rather than worried, you know, comparing your past with other with other people’s. And that’s quite a precious thing.
Adam Pierno 32:28
And they’ve been much more purposeful about their growth and and throttling it to a certain extent or not, they didn’t they their story doesn’t always lead with growth and monthly active users and time spent. And they they’ve, they’ve actually been coy about metrics in a way that makes it hard for a competitor to know how to measure whether you’re beating them or whether you’re making inroads against them and that they haven’t, they’ve avoided you know, getting into the tit for tat where Facebook is counting, you know, monthly average or daily average to users. And then when that number ticks down a little bit, it looks like the end of the world.
Neil Barrie 33:06
Yeah, I think that’s right. And they made you know, they made sacrifices on behalf of their ethics, which is always a good test of ethics, you know, they got and they got rid of the like button back three years ago, for example. Because it I think there was a know that the founders and a lot of the these pretty moral people actually, and thought that it was not in the interest of the community. Because they, the a lot of the magic of that platform, for example, is just the, the mindset that it puts people and they feel quite confident after this because I think about themselves, they’re not thinking about, and they’re not quantifying the word of what they’ve been doing. And, you know, and that, and I think that was a really powerful thing to do. And, and, and I think, right now their time is coming. You know, because I think Well, certainly as a parent myself, I’d want my daughter on that but using now wouldn’t be particularly enjoy where she was on other things. Right now, and I’m not I’m not hating on the other platforms at all, I just think that you need balance the same of exercise instead of activities the same as having a balanced diet, you just need balance in the way you spend your time online. And, and so I think they’re a good example of a, of a technology that’s this coming through as a counterbalance to a huge explosion of activity.
Adam Pierno 34:22
Yeah, because they’ve, they’ve created a place they have their product and their brand are a place where it’s okay to go and browse. And there’s no pressure for you to have to post or like, as you said, they remove the like button. So by taking away those common actions that were used to and on social web, they’ve created a really unique place.
Neil Barrie 34:50
Yeah, there is right there. an exploration company that was one of the we worked on a lot to just clarify exactly what they were. And it’s really it’s just pulling it out of them rather than other Massive reveal, but if they’re an inspiration coming in, and Google’s a wells in information company, and that’s what I do and print just is where anyone can go get inspiration, whatever you’re doing whatever level of, you know, you might be, you know, a kid learning about money for the first time or you might be you know, I think it goes in, you know, thinking about your next investment or whatever, Pinterest can meet you, wherever you are getting the inspiration, you need to keep moving your thing on. And that’s, that’s pretty priceless because most people can’t afford like a, you know, an art curator, or whatever they call it a muse and Pinterest can beat up. So it’s a really beautiful thing that I do.
Adam Pierno 35:37
Yeah, that’s, that’s fantastic. And and, and I would imagine that what they’re building would be very hard to disrupt for somebody else to try to come into that space. And they’re able to very thoughtfully now add features for that community that enhance that inspiration. So if they as they add, you know, click to buy and features that I’m sure they’re they’re working I’m beyond that. It makes sense to the user and it doesn’t feel like a bolt on and they’re not hitting me over the head with you know, kind of crazy ads that where did this come from?
Neil Barrie 36:10
Yeah, I guess that’s the reality. Stephanie not easy, you know, it’s so aggressive and you know, you got an Instagram formidable competitors, but they are, I think they they are really onto something they have a very clear sense of purpose and what their identity what they do, you know, one of the most recent things they introduced was compassionate search, which is there’s quite a lot of people who use the platform layer night you know, and maybe when they’re stressed or anxious, and so on. And if they pick up certain signals then you’ll be invited into a kind of it’s almost like a different experiences and just what you can do exercises breathing exercises, meditation, really like you know, for people who aren’t ready to you know, pay $200 a year or whatever it is for calm, well headspace but need some sort of help and and I guess A great example of, you know, providing people with the inspiration they need at that moment to be in a way, which isn’t invasive or selling, you just picks up on certain signal. So I think there’s something powerful going on there.
Adam Pierno 37:10
Yeah. And I want to close with that example. Because it is not a that’s not a marketing tool. That is not I don’t think they started with a purpose. You know, a, they started with a purpose for the product, but I don’t think as I’ve read about, I don’t think they started with a, you know, a purpose to talk about, but I think they found it aligned with inspiration, and aligned with keeping people inspired and positive, as opposed to being less down and disappointed by not living up to the, to the standard of what they’re seeing.
Neil Barrie 37:43
Yeah, no, I think that’s absolutely right. And I think that’s, it’s interesting. I wasn’t the original purpose of the of the business, but it that over time they’ve learned from their users and the users have learned from them and they realize that’s where they are today. You know, that’s part of our job to help them to do that. And Africa, it became because the founders knew that what got them to where they were wasn’t going to get them to the next 10 years. And I think that’s, that’s a really important part, again, going back to what it takes to a standard corruption and is to know when you need to look deep inside. There’s different types of disruption you can have. There’s obviously disrupting your product and innovating all the time. But then it’s also taking a hard look at what you are about. Right. And say, it’s, it’s, and I don’t think there’s a I don’t think you know, we can have the we have our views on the right filters. And there I think we are this is just human intuition of when is a moment to make a change as well. I got that. Hobbit, Columbia.
Adam Pierno 38:39
No, absolutely. And they’ve displayed great patients at Pinterest in particular. Alright, well, this was a this is fantastic. Neil. Barry, thank you so much for making time and joining me from across the Atlantic Ocean. I really appreciate it.
Neil Barrie 38:56
My My pleasure. Thanks, Adam.
Adam Pierno 38:59
This is great. Where can People find you online sir.
Neil Barrie 39:03
If they want to chatter, chatter as we are 41 cb.com
Adam Pierno 39:09
All right, excellent. And we’ll definitely link to that in the show notes and make sure we’re sending people your way. All right, thank you. Alright, thanks a lot.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai