In August 2020, our business celebrated its first birthday! Our bootstrapped growth is fueled by the conviction that innovation should be intentional. As we round the corner of our first year, I’ve had some time to reflect on who Rebel is today, the small decisions that led us here, and what’s ahead for the future.
How it All Began
I have spent the last decade with brands big and small working through some of the most ambiguous business questions of their brand strategy. The questions were always big and the answers were always critical to the company moving forward.
Who are our customers? What do they need? How does my brand rethink how we deliver our services to our customers?
“As a Researcher and Strategist by trade, I knew there had to be a better way to approach innovation.”
These questions were often answered by producing a new way to deliver services. More often than not, I’d watch as the teams, both agency and client-side would cave to the loudest voice in the room. Executives would chase the flashiest solution or the next big idea, always chasing the market, never leading. Being first was the goal, regardless of value or quality. And after months of work, I’d watch as businesses would launch this big idea over the finish line only to watch it fall flat in the market. And then they’d go back to the drawing board, time and money wasted.
As a Researcher and Strategist by trade, I knew there had to be a better way to approach innovation. The emphasis on speed — what we call the move fast and break things mentality — wasn’t creating meaningful change for businesses, then or now. Today, every market is saturated, differentiation doesn’t happen just by existing. It’s no longer a game of who is doing it first, rather who is delivering the most value in the best way possible. Consumer attention spans have shortened, expectations have evolved. More than ever, innovating without the voice of the customer in mind is short-sighted, at best.
With this top of mind, I wanted to challenge the idea that speed is the priority in innovating. I began asking myself the kinds of questions that are difficult to answer: What happens when we pursue value in what we create? What happens to innovation when businesses begin to take an intentional approach in how they serve their customer markets? Can we change the innovation outcomes if we build a strategic foundation and process for innovation in our organizations versus chasing an arbitrary goal?
The answers led me to a few clear conclusions: If today’s brands listen, really listen, to their customers, and deliver on those asks, they change the game entirely. Taking the time up front to lay a solid strategic foundation and plan forward, positions businesses to respond to change faster and more strategically. This was the beginning of Rebel. Driven by the desire to provide value to the market and the belief that in order to disrupt the industry, brands must align with their customer. Rebel set out with one goal: rethink everything we’ve been told about innovation.
Establishing a Foundation
Year 1 has brought growth, moving from a team of me to a team of 10 talented changemakers. We’ve had the privilege of working with Fortune 1000 companies and scrappy startups looking to differentiate and scale. As a Founder, my goal for the first year was simple: build the foundation of Rebel & Co. This meant creating a captivating brand, putting the right people in key seats, prioritizing marketing, and creating a strong sales strategy.
“We leaned into the uncomfortable nature of change through long conversations and listening to what our clients need from their innovation partners. “
To establish a strong foundation, we needed to intimately understand why we opened our doors. Why does innovating well matter? Pushing boundaries isn’t an easy task — especially when the outcome for our clients is change. A huge part of this year was defining our internal philosophies, how we want to work, and who we want to be. We leaned into the uncomfortable nature of change through long conversations and listening to what our clients need from their innovation partners. From those conversations, we defined a set of principles that guide us as we grow.
Our goal, in everything we deliver, is to set up the stage for a bigger and better tomorrow for our clients. With our finger on the pulse of the future, we can create solutions that our clients can use today to drive business outcomes, and scale into who they want to be tomorrow and beyond.
Disrupt the Status Quo.
It’s difficult to get to new ideas without challenging the things we think we know. Challenging old paradigms can be uncomfortable, but so is stagnation. When Rebel solves a business challenge or answers the critical business questions, our goal is to deliver a new way of thinking about the “same old” things.
Function Dictates Form.
Part of creating something of value means understanding the problem we are solving, and then designing a solution that solves that problem.That deep understanding is part of our process so our clients avoid building solutions that look nice, but aren’t usable and they don’t solve the problem in question.
Addressing the immediate problem is only the first step towards the true solution of the deeper disconnect. The short-sightedness of a quick fix isn’t saving money or time, and retrofitting an experience once its one the market takes a lot of both resources. We built our process to side step this frustration and create solutions that evolve with the problems, putting businesses in the best possible position to move forward confidently.