In my humble opinion, it is one of the top 5 Danish design companies with the coolest identity. I was so lucky that I got to see their colorful HeadQuarters in Odense.
I hi-jacked their founder and creative director, Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau, for an interview. I had a hidden agenda and wanted to talk to her about the RICE identity and the red thread in everything they do.
Here is what came out of it. (Warning: turn the sound up. It didn’t come out that well)
What’s so special about the RICE identity is that they built it from their own uncompromisable core.
And I am crazy about that. Their tagline is “People care. We care”. And they mean it (as you will also see in the video above). Their whole warehouse was filled with how RICE is making a difference for people, in the crazy world of design.
I know for a fact, through my work with my awesome cool clients, that building from the core is what you need to do. Especially if you want to build more and more digital branding around you using different platforms: social media, apps, community – you name it.
RICE stands out so strong because the company actually gives you something to believe in (instead of just doing awesome colorful products). It gives them a substance and a coolness that often is missed in the business world, and that’s why I adore them so. Are you inspired to do more about your identity? I am. Also, I have had the strangest urge to put colors everywhere after my visit. In addition to the video and me geeking around their identity
Can’t help but thinking of the Rolling Stones song ” she’s a rainbow”.
Charlotte for sure is putting colors everywhere, and if anybody would ever ask me if I had met a rainbow, I would say: Sure! she runs a colorful company called RICE in Odense Denmark and she’s taking over the world.
Before I acquired my inner business bliss as a mother and as an entrepreneur, I was once a strange girl craving for other people’s love and approval.
The strange girl at the back row
When I was a kid, I was the strange not-cool girl in the back of the classroom. I was one of the last ones to be elected for games. I wore uncool clothes. My parents could first afford the BALL t-shirt that all the other kids had just when they were going out of style.
All I wanted to do was to get other people to like me. But I was bullied for being strange. Then I emphasized the strangeness and started wearing weird makeup and got a punker-boyfriend in Walthamstow, London.
I became a goth girl working for Apple Computers and after that, an indie girl working for danish startups. I became strong enough to throw my boring boyfriend back to the Netherlands. And then I met the love of my life. I became a mother, an entrepreneur, an author, a cherished advisor, a rock-n-roll chick, and a speaker.
But why? What drove me? I think it was the constant craving for love.
My youth and our family’s money issues
I came from a home where money wasn’t something we had, but we never lacked anything else. Some of my friends got on shopping sprees with their parents’ money.
I got 3 newspaper routes that all my family helped out with. I can still see my lovely great-grandmother standing and putting newspapers together, on a Friday night. Thinking about it still gets me crying my eyes out.
I can still hear my Dad shout at me at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. He does this to get me out of bed so we could be done with the newspaper routes at 10.
In retrospect, I guess I was raised with the notion that if I decided to work hard, the community and my family would support me and help me out. Money wasn’t something that was given. It was something that was earned.
How I used my money to get people to like me
I used all my hard-earned money to make people love me, get myself invited to parties, and increase my self-esteem. I bought Bertoia chairs, an Eames rocker, the royal Copenhagen set, and the Camilla Skovgaard wedges I have never worn. The monthly gotta-have styles from ASOS is also one of the things I spent on. I used all my money to be the FIRST one be elected for games in our primary school. I have done all these for ages until something called a financial crisis happened and I met someone very dear to me who opened my eyes to something more spiritual and insightful. Suddenly, money was something that needed to be earned and saved. Prices were not something to be increased but lowered and you needed to work your ass off to make ends meet.
From spending to saving; making people love me to loving myself
Actually, my personal focus went from spending to saving; growing, and selecting. There’s a whole personal side to these things as well. But I finally saw one of the largest problems or patterns within me. I needed to shift from asking myself, “do they love me now?” to “do I love myself now?”. I needed to create boundaries for myself and other people.
And I do that all the time now. I listen to myself and feel that I love myself. I don’t really spend any money, au contraire, a lot of my time goes to creating and learning more about money on super cool websites such as learnvest, dailyworth, and others. Serving the people close to me and those who I really liked to be around me is one of the things I loved myself most for. The readers of henrietteweber.com. My business rockers and wonderful geek girls, my network, friends, and my lovely family.
A misunderstood teenager turned into a woman with a plan
Somewhere along the lines, I realized I’m no longer a wild child misunderstood teenager. I am now a woman, a mother, and an entrepreneur. I am now a woman with a plan both for business, the world, myself, and my family.
One of the biggest places I can see myself in is in my speaking gigs. I feel so comfortable on stage now. I feel like I was born there. People say I look like I was born there. I used to be dead-nervous and think that rotten tomatoes would come flying at me at any time.
Now I really want it. Actually, I want a lot of things now, but none of them can be purchased with money and none of them are to impress others. Things that come from serving. By working. By planning.
And I think I can finally say I love myself now. I have that inner business bliss because I know I do cool sh*t. I know where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to long for and it’s right here in my own hands.
Let’s get started on that inner business bliss rockers, it’s super important for a business.
This morning I read an article on VentureBeat called “Why following your passion is bad for business“. Even though the article had something to it that I see as helpful advice to some of the most blue-eyed and naive entrepreneurs out there, I think for the rest of us, it’s quite misleading. Basically because it doesn’t seem to take into consideration the background and creativity that drives a lot of entrepreneurs. I think the whole “you shouldn’t go into the music business if you’re passionate about music” or “don’t do a sport startup because you’re passionate about sports” – that the article states, is kind of obvious. However enough about the article, here’s my personal brand (and hence a large part of my business) approach to it.
Use your passion to define you
My background is in marketing, online marketing and online communities, I have done a lot of awesome stuff in the past, but it was first when I started to implement rockn’roll as a part of my business that the rockn’roll chick brand came along – it wasn’t intentional, suddently all of the danish business community was calling me “rock chick” and “rock mama”. Anyway I paralleled “rockbandism” with company structures, I paralleled the CEO as the front singer, COO as the drummer and the strategist was, of course, the bassplayer avec mystique. It has only been because of my specific creative background and my passion for music, that could have gotten me on this path (and publish business rockn’roll freebies: my first publication was an e-book entitled “why every company should be a rockband“, that since became the core of my book return on involvement and several other publications and products around business rockn’roll as well. See, I am not in the music industry, but I’m in the business rockn’roll industry – inspiring what i call business rockers just as me, that are thinking “god this is boring, there need to be another way of doing this”. An industry of one person that I defined myself =) And frankly if I didn’t have rockn’roll to hold onto I don’t know if I would still be in the middle of this.. well social media shenanigan going on. I hate doing mainstream things, and rockn’roll gives me that crazy cool edge that I need to keep going. And by the look of it, there’s a lot of people out there just like me=)
Use your passion to get the core of your business further
If you’re passionate about sports, I would use that passion to get the core of my business further, use sports metaphors to explain problems to your co-workers and clients, and be defined by that passion. Be the “consultancy that are totally into sport” be the “startup that does productivity apps with a twist of sports”. Publish content that is called ” 5 reason why you can be just as good in your field as David Beckham is at playing football”.
Differentiation is everything – and passion is a huge part of differentiation.
Don’t kill your passion, follow it and implement it into your background and business. Don’t be blue-eyed and naive and do yet-another-photosharing app. Do a photosharing app with a cool twist of your background, passion and vision and take it to the next level Work your business but do it with a twist of what is cool to you.
Sometimes I wonder why many businesses seem to use social media, but fail to make it convert into something tangible, something on the bottomline, something that sticks to their identity, image and branding. Come to think of it, most of the people they connect to out there seem to be more disturbed than excited about what you have to say.
I wonder about this because I have been approached by a lot of baffled companies requesting me to look into their social strategies and find out why the intended results do not match actual sales. What I found out is astounding – ALL these companies, which recognize the importance of planning in every other aspect of their business and implement them accordingly, don’t have anything remotely resembling a social marketing/branding action plan. They may have a strategy, but they don’t have a plan for what happens from week to week and what they need to work on the long term haul.
Digging deeper into why these companies can commit such a basic mistake, I found out that all of them just dived right into social media with hardly any thought about how these tools will work right for them on a daily basis. I think the mistake is that they got the strategy, but they forgot or simply didn’t know how to launch it – from a-z.
And the primary reason why this sad situation has to play itself out? Accessibility. It’s so easy to create accounts on various social networks, and start posting content right away, AND it costs you practically nothing – that these companies are lulled into a state of casual approach. They stop seeing social media as something strategic, as an opportunity to surprise their surroundings and saw it as just another communication channel where they don’t have to put enough resources to take it seriously. What makes social media work really well for me can be a curse for someone using these tools improperly.
Social media is a bane for those who tend to think in literal numbers – that having a thousand likers and followers is an end in itself; that business will just naturally take care of itself once you have attained a significant increase in traffic to your site.
This idea was smokin’ ten years ago, or even five years ago. But today, what would you say if I declare that I can outperform your 2,000 likers and followers with a mere 200 or even 100 of my fully connected audience? An audience that are really interested in the value that I provide, and trust me completely enough to go for their wallets, once in a while, to buy my services?
The key to using social media properly is to rock your identity to the right audience.
Picture found on pinterest
When you talk about identity, marketing and branding, one thing that’s really important is to know what you have to give away. I have always been inspired to do one of those so I did. A Henriette Weber version with the stuff I want to give away: it looks like this:
I think it’s a great exercise and really important in order to prioritize and develop your identity.
If buzzwords end up being something you’re using as a value, you can really move mountains within your industry. You will finally be able to show that you practice as you preach. We have seen it various times with different businesses and startups that have dared to be <insert favorite buzzword here> as a part of their identity, marketing, and branding.
However, I get so tired of these huge words thrown at me as if it was something you could fix in 5 minutes and get on with your life. It makes them diluted, and it makes me cringe – because I’m left standing on some random streetcorner saying. “I’m sure that’s not what they meant when they started to talk about authentic businesses or involvement onsocial media”.
So even though you probably get a fair amount of buzzword bingo at your job every day, I can surely say – it’s not the ones that have fast buzzwords coming out of their mouth that really cracks the code for bringing in money through a digital sales funnel, it’s the one that works around it and implements it as a value. And not just on a strategic level – throughout the whole organization.
You need to take your buzzwords and create your own good sh*t around it – define what it means to you and to your colleagues. Practice as you preach, rockers.
One of the things I have worked with as an entrepreneur over the years is manifestos. I think they are dead important, both to the people who sees them because they stand strong, but also for me to get my head around what it is that I actually think and feel about a given subject. I went back in the blog archives and I have done a lot of manifestos during the years i’ve been running this blog… (8 years… cough).
A manifesto is a great way of figuring out what you think is important around a given subject – or even when you should be finding out what kind of company you are. I haven’t done a Henriette Weber or a Toothless Tiger manifesto yet – but they are up in my head – I know what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. What I stand for and what I don’t stand for. And that’s the great thing about manifestos because it becomes natural to you in the process and then you look back at them and think “hey that’s pretty cool”. A manifesto needs to be a natural process so you end out with something that everybody in the manifesto process believes in and acts out and stands for. It can be a lot of work (especially in large teams – but I guarantee you it’s worth it). in fact it often becomes something more than a manifesto
But here are my published manifestos over the years:
Anyway there was the silent revolution manifesto that became a large part of my book “return on involvement” because the silent revolution defines the changes that is happening inside of people. This was written before the paradigm shift in media and I still feel the “yep” coming from inside of me when I read it…
There was the creativity undefined manifesto that summed up my creativity work with Dannie Jost for our lift07 workshop – it’s still stands and is still the core of most of my thoughts around creativity. The surroundings has changed a bit though.
Then there was the creativity 100 manifesto – 100 pieces of advice for getting more creative… which is still one of my most read blogposts today =) I really digg that manifesto, and can’t really believe I did that…
And then – there is the involvement manifesto. A sum up of danish book (in english) which had the succes criteria that one person would print and put up on their wall in their office.(you can still make it). That’s why it’s designed and great looking and not just text=)
When I read through this my mind is going “I better get going on that creativity book” – 2 manifestos on creativity ? yes it is something I care deeply about =)
There’s this man.. let’s call him mr. X – everytime I see him out and about on the social web, I start to studder, my face turns red and I get infurious. Especially when he’s communicating in some linkedin groups. Sometimes I even think so high about myself that I think “he’s not supposed to be using it like that” or “what is he trying to cover up”. He is, in my eyes, the most annoying person on linkedin. I would even name him “mr. most annoying person on linkedin” and give him a tiara and stuff. Because he annoys me so incredibly much. I’ve just stopped interacting with him – really. Just cut him out of my ecosystem. The thing is that I like people way better when they approach me and tell me what it is that they want to sell, instead of trying to wrap it into something more hypotetical subject-y thing – if they do it badly. I love the art of selling through creativity and selling through network and mind. But if you do it badly and if people (or I) can see through it all the time. Things like writing into every group “so what’s best facebook pages or linkedin company pages” and then in the comment area just keep highlighting himself over and over again. And he just clearly shows that he might be reading all these cool blogs and books, but he doesn’t have an opinion about any of these things. He just keep stating the obvious – very boring and not personal at all. Sometimes he want’s to discuss autenticity and building a brand because of who you are – and he’s not even likeable or present and he’s mean to people. What a joke. So he: – don’t have anything important to say – don’t really speak his mind about anything, but just re-saying what has been said by real Â cool people and stating the facts – highlight himself everywhere Do you know him? He’s the guy I don’t want to be like. He’s the guy that if you’d ever put me in the same room, then I would leave. Because I can see right through him and I don’t see anything interesting. He just seems like a shell. I guess that’s my point. I don’t like shells without anything in. I love substance. As you can see this blogpost is not about him – it’s really about me, it’s about seeing what’s triggering my feelings and my bad temper out on the social web. To some people I might be the most annoying person out there? Scary. but I think it’s important to turn things around like that and say “what is it that triggers me to feel this way”. have a great weekend rockers=)
Yesterday I launched the involvement manifesto – again. I’ve launched it already once – but I don’t believe that my homemade design skills did it justice. Therefore I let Amelie from Krawatt.se play around with it and here’s what she came up with :
I absolutely adore it.
How to get your version of the involvement manifesto
Anyway I decided to put it up here on the blog as well.
I want to touch upon how important it is to take large pieces of content and break it up and make it digestable.
The involvement manifesto is a digestible way of reading a part of danish book “return on involvement”, it’s a mini teaser for the english one as well. There are so many ways to break down large pieces of content – and it’s one of the things I love to do the most because it makes you feel so creative.
Have you done something huge?
And have you thought about breaking it down into small pieces of involvement content and spread it out like little snippets of you and your messages? It’s truely important to not only work around your business plans with HUGE books and all these things that makes your brand – because you need small snippets of freebies and information that travels fast. Like fragments of epic shit building the empire of me.
One of the things that I would actually love, was if just one person in the world thought that this was an utterly amazing manifesto, and put it up on the wall in the office and start using it. Believing so much in my thoughts about business unusual that the person would print it out and read through it occasionally. That’s my ambition for this manifesto. However I must say – I will print on canvas and put it up in the Toothless Tiger office. Because to me that poster is a stunner – the essence of the book.
Let’s talk a bit about the “real” business world here. In this “real” business world, a lot of people tell me that There’s no such thing as a digital part of your identity.
Au contraire to my business world where the digital part of your identity is your biggest asset and is the one that you can nurture without being omni-present at events all over the world. Digital rules my business world – how do you get digital to rule yours as well ?
How do you rock your identity ?
Let’s take it from scratch.
1. It’s all about the (digital) meetings between people.
A couple of days ago I was in a potential client meeting that started out with the prospect saying that he didn’t have any digital budget at all.
Later on in the conversation he said that what they focus on was the people in the stores – the face to face meetings between seller and buyer inside the store. The whole “space” the floor/store people operate in. He just didn’t think that digital could help in these meetings and form a trusted relationship. He didn’t believe in it at all, to the point where the brand wasn’t even present on their own facebook page – and didn’t reply to the comments. You need to focus on the meetings between people – digital as well as “real” business world.
2. So you’re meeting them digitally, then what?
Now it’s time to show them how much you are rockin in the real business world. What part of your identity are they meeting ? In many ways, this is where they should be mesmerized by the whole brand-building thing you’ve been doing for years on end. But if you’re just starting out, make sure that the snippets of your identity they can actually find out there, rocks. Aim to to show, and produce content around the parts of your identity that you take pride in – that are special for just you and extremely likeable for the people you’re trying to reach.
3. What people are you trying to reach – really ?
Toothless Tiger (my business where I teach companies to rock their identity) isn’t a companion for everybody because we want to work with companies that aspires to the term “the business of our business is more than business”. If the business of your business is simply “business” then we’re probably not what your looking for. But for the ones that strive to be more, we are often the perfect match. I think very well on planes and trains (and can’t wait for the long train ride Im taking from Helsingør to Berlin on monday to participate and write about the Next Conference . I believe in “reaching for the people that are the most like yourself”. In my case, the quirky ones. The cool ones. The ones that are grounded yet flying high. The ones that have a secret dream inside of saving the world, and becoming a billionaire rockstar while they’re doing it.
3 1/2: Rock your identity on the inside
Keep your target group close to the heart of yourself. I hope every day to earn my money while meanwhile honoring the respect of people just like me. I always mirror the things I do online with a “if I saw this from the outside, would I think it rocked”? If I don’t get that feeling, I wont post it. I need to have a good feeling about it, otherwise it will be sitting in the draft folder until I feel the urge to look at it again and give it another go.