Flying Fish talks Crowdsourcing and Brand Insights
Some 20 years after starting his career at Unilever, there's little that can be said about Mário Braz de Matos' ingenuity that hasn't already been elaborated on before by his illustrious career. The current co-Founder of Flying Fish Lab left Unilever as the European Marketing Director for food solutions, to join Nokia as the Regional Head of Marketing Activation for Middle East & Africa, before leaving it to start Cookwork, the world's largest online community for professional chefs. The challenge of embracing entrepreneurship was one that Mário had longed to immerse himself into for quite some time.
"By decided to join the startup world, I chose to combine my digital marketing experience from Nokia and Unilever. Having worked in Unilever enabled me to identify gaps within the foodservice industry. I realised that even though Professional Chefs were incredibly valuable to the industry, they were stuck between two hard places where they weren't niche enough for manufacturers to conduct 1-to-1 marketing, neither were they large enough to qualify for mass marketing. Cookwork was dedicated solely to chefs, which was one of the reasons why it became the go-to place for many chefs."
Throughout his startup career, Mário's representations of creativity, fascinations and innovation have encompassed different projects, one of which includes Flying Fish Lab. In this current startup with partner Joël Céré, the two co-founders combined their previous experiences into a unique offering focused on Controlled Disruption: Crowdsourcing, Challenger (Brands) Thinking and Greenhousing.
"After leaving Nokia, I became a ‘Challenger Associate’ trained by Eat Big Fish, a strategic brand consultancy who basically create the entire Challenger Brand framework. They impressed me the most, because back when I was at Unilever, they helped reposition a 600 million euro brand from decline to growth within 12 months. It was pretty impressive for a product in a declining category. And I truly believed in it not because it looked 'sexy', but because I witnessed formidable results. Not merely to brand performance but also what it did to the team, which was to bring back a sense of belief and self-conviction. I knew then, that working with brands to achieve breakthrough innovation was something I was meant to do.”
When Mário met his Co-Founder Joël Cere, he was heading up innovation whereas Joël was working at a crowdsourcing platform. Their experience led them to believe that ideas weren’t the ultimate solution for innovation, but rather some incredibly rich and fantastic nuggets that companies should be using as springboards. Using them as direct solutions would be a waste, as they would merely be scratching the surface of the possibilities they could unlock.
Flying Fish uses crowdsourcing as a stage to source intelligent naivety, that can then be used as a springboard for Idea Hackathons; pushing people beyond the obvious and the mundane, and into breakthrough or disruptive solutions across the fields of innovation, comms, brand activation and positioning.
COWORKING BUILDS COMMUNITY AND BELONGING
LEVEL3 doesn't just provide us with a nice place to crash our laptops, but also great flexibility. We're hungry for business, and we need a community that's equally as hungry for business collaboration. We often talk about working in an “Open Innovation Ecosystem”, which is what we do at Flying Fish Lab. The problem with other coworking spaces is the fact that they're already established, and no longer make the effort to reinforce a close-knit community. They're just happy to keep their businesses going along as usual. At LEVEL3, however, there's not only a sense of community, but also a great mix of attitude and atmosphere which inculcates a great sense of belonging. Of course, it doesn't hurt that we're seated right next to Unilever. Along with all the events and networking sessions here, it was the possibility of getting exposure to such a wide range of Unilever brands that sealed the deal for us.
BRAND INTANGIBILITY MAKES FOR AN INTERESTING CONCEPT
The bit that I find really attractive when working with brands is that brands don't really exist! They are intangible concepts that we hold in our heads, enabling us to interact with lifeless objects. Ultimately a brands’ ability to create compelling and ownable differentiation is what makes them such valuable assets. It is the one cheat in business, because aside from your brand, everything else can be copied. People are all different, and yet so common. Understanding all these commonalities and knowing how to pull the right levers is fascinating to me. Arguably, it is how you get someone to buy more of Under Armour and less of Nike.
HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT RATIONAL
The biggest lie that I was ever told is that human beings are rational – when I was studying economics in University. That is absolute rubbish, because if that were true, we would be purchasing identical items regardless of brands. When two people buy two different shoes, they’re not doing it to satisfy their different needs to get from A to B in a comfortable stroll. Instead, they are choosing different shoes because they make them “feel” different even though they might be exactly the same object, from a functional standpoint.
To add to this, the mix of commonalities and differences amongst people is absolutely enriching and fascinating, making it a formidable challenge to manage and a humbling experience at the same time, for me. When it comes to what brands stand for in people’s mind, you need to keep in mind that there is no “right” or “wrong”, especially when there are so many different point of views in the world.
Another example could be Dove and MAC cosmetics: both talk about beauty, but from completely different perspectives. The mark of a strong brand is their ability to not only convey a sharp and clear sense of identity, but to make you adopt that as your own. I don’t think there’s anything more irrational than that, but there’s also nothing nearly as much fun as succeeding at it!