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4 things we can learn from ecosystem brands

You may have missed it, so let’s start from the beginning. There’s a new buzzword on the streets, one we’re surprised hasn’t surfaced before, which relates to some of the world’s biggest companies, and explains how they have become so successful.
Introducing ‘ecosystem brands’, a term that covers Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon- four of the five most valuable firms on the planet. But what does it mean?

What is an ecosystem brand?

Put simply, Marketing Week’s definition is this: ‘[Ecosystem] Brands make consumers’ lives easier by connecting a number of different aspects into one ecosystem… …and have the most potential for future growth.’
Still no clearer? No worries.
Ecosystem brands offer an array of products and services which are all somehow interconnected, but different. Let’s take Apple for example. The firm makes computers, but it also build apps for those computers, resells third party apps for those computers, and, in the case of Apple Music and Apple TV, provides access to content for people to consume within those apps, on those computers.
This type of structure is not restricted to the biggest businesses, either. You might be a web developer that also offers blog writing for clients once the site has been built, with video services to supplement that content. Or maybe it’s an electrician with a sideline in electrical product design. An architectural practice might (and often does) provide interior design services. Granted, these loops are far smaller than, say, Google’s, but they still reflect what we are talking about.

What we can all learn from ecosystem brands

You may not be at the level of an ecosystem brand, yet. Perhaps you don’t have an interest in them, or even the potential to become one, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all take something from these success stories. Here are four things everybody should learn about how these firms operate, in order to improve their own lot.
Growth is gauged, not guessed
This sounds pretty obvious, but nevertheless it’s the cornerstone of ecosystem brands, which are, by nature, masters at expansion. When considering any kind of new offering, it’s vital that you assess where the demand is, or will be, before diving in. Take stock of the products and services that are the biggest sellers, analyse feedback- positive and negative- and develop a master response plan based on what’s missing, or what isn’t functioning properly and needs improvement.
In-house isn’t always the answer
It might appear as though ecosystem brands are all about keeping the loop closed, but that’s not actually true. Many companies have opted to bring in experts from disciplines they have no experience in, white labelling what they deliver, or in some instances buying the supplier wholesale if the investment makes sense. You need to be a master of all relevant trades, but without the right pros you can easily wind up a common Jack.
Recreate, never emulate
Ecosystem brands rarely start out as such. They become dominant in one field, then move into another to support the first. That jump often takes them into an already active market. None can be accused of simply copying from competition, though. They watch how others do something, then set about devising a way to do the same thing, only much, much better. We’ve seen countless times what happens when companies attempt to bite into a new pie without a sufficiently superior offering, and it ain’t good.
Don’t run before you can walk
AKA doing everything at once is a recipe for disaster. Gradual expansion will always win over mass explosion. You need to be ready before making the major investment involved in any kind of growth, or risk getting it all very, very wrong indeed. Attempting to go for too much at once is likely to bust budget and bank, before threatening to break the company altogether.

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