“The Anti-Kodak”

“For anyone lamenting the decline of big U.S. Innovators like Kodak or worried that U.S. Industry is losing its creative mojo, we bring you this good-news story–a reminder that some manufacturers have gotten innovation right.” -WSJ, The Anti-Kodak: How a U.S. Firm Innovates and Thrives, January 13, 2012

We do start to wonder with all the turmoil of the economy, did U.S. businesses get lazy and uncreative? The answer is probably not black and white, but a whole lot of gray…Yes, certainly some did, and they cease to exist. But as a story that I recently read in the WSJ last week points out, the businesses that kept that “creative mojo” coming have prospered in a market that is now nearly nonexistent in the U.S., the Textile Industry.

This story struck close to home for me…not only because my degree and background is in the industry, but my father has been in Textiles for 30 years, and worked at Milliken & Co. right out of college. This firm  gave him his first glimpse into the textile world, and after reading on, I understand now how he got hooked.

In an industry that has closed primarily all of its manufacturing in the U.S. and moved almost completely over to the east, Milliken & Co. stands strong as it has found a way to differentiate itself from the other companies that didn’t make it. Their innovation has “increased their value more than 30% since 2007”, when all others were dropping like flies. What has kept them floating is the ability to move outside of what the general person thinks of as textiles, and make their product something that is useful in all our lives, and in many different facets of our lives: “Milliken boasts that we come in contact with its products almost 50 times a day.”

So, how is this relevant to Promotional Products, you may ask? While I was reading this article, I realized that the moral of Milliken & Co.’s story stands true for any industry and any business. Building a culture where innovation and creation is first and foremost to the inner-workings is what will bring our economy back. Although that is most important in the product or service that your business provides, it is just as important, if not more important, in the branding. People remember branding that is clever, and when we all get lazy and stop the flow of creative juices in our branding, even if we have the most useful product, the world will forget.What we did in 2007 will not do for our bottom line what it did then; Change is necessary, and we must adapt to what the world wants now, not then.

What is your business doing to keep your branding and promotional products “Anti-Kodak”?

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