Inspiring Innovation includes tales covering brands including Angry Birds, Diners Club, Fanta, Netflix, Viagra, Victoria’s Secret and Airbnb, you will find out how one size does not fit all, and that ideas can be sparked by anything and everything – from anger to embarrassment, from people watching to biomimicry (borrowing ideas from the natural world). Ultimately, this book is a call for disruption and deviance and provides original tips and techniques to help you in your search for the next big thing. Today we hear the tale – The Glue That Wouldn’t Stick.
Perhaps one of the most famous brand innovation stories starts with a failure.
Dr Spencer Silver, a 3M research scientist, was charged with developing a new, super-strong glue for use on one of the company’s adhesive tapes.
After months of work he developed a new adhesive, but rather than being super-strong it proved to be super-weak!
The formulation of his new glue meant that the adhesive formed itself into tiny spheres, each with a diameter of just a paper’s width. Each sphere was sticky but they only made intermittent contact with other surfaces. This meant that when the glue was coated onto the tape, the tape didn’t stick very strongly. In fact, it could be peeled off quite easily.
While it was an unusual new adhesive, it wasn’t what Spencer had been briefed to create and the project went into limbo. It was occasionally discussed but not actively developed.
It would be another four years before a practical use was found for it, and another six years before it came to market. The man who found that breakthrough use – the ‘killer app’ – was another 3M development researcher named Arthur Fry.
He found the ideal use, not at work, but when pursuing one of his hobbies. Arthur regularly sang in his church choir, and used scraps of paper as markers to keep his place in his hymnal, but was frustrated that they kept falling out. He heard about the new glue while attending an internal 3M seminar, in which Dr Silver, who was still championing the adhesive, espoused the virtues of the discover.
Arthur was intrigued and wondered if this might be the answer to his prayers. He came up with the concept of a novel sort of bookmark: one that would keep its place and not fall out, but which could be removed without marking or damaging the paper to which it had been stuck.
The 3M Post-it Note was born. Today, Post-its are sold in more than 100 countries.
Sparkpoint: New technology alone isn’t enough – it needs an application that people can truly value.
Giles Lury is a leading branding consultant and an executive at The Value Engineers. He is the author of How Coca-Cola Took Over the World and The Prisoner and the Penguin.
Stories of breakthrough ideas and innovations from the world of marketing and branding –and their lessons.
- Entertaining and informative stories of how leading brands achieved their success through innovation.
- Each of the stories contains a practical lesson in innovation and marketing.
- A valuable and engaging read for both marketers and non-marketers.
- Written by a leading marketing expert and consultant who has worked with several of the world’s leading brands.
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