Big Brands Succeed When They Make a Person’s Life Better: An Interview with Sofar Sound's Rafe Offer
The start of October saw Speakers Corner and The Brewery host our last Knowledge Guild event of 2017 – on marketing and branding. We caught up with one of our speakers from the night - Sofar Sounds co-founder Rafe Offer - to get the inside scoop on his career and advice for being innovative.
Hi Rafe, could you tell us a bit about yourself, please?
As you know, I’m Rafe Offer. I used to work at Disney, Diageo and Coca-Cola. I also started a company called Sofar Sounds, and I speak about being an entrepreneur, marketing, branding, and innovation.
Can you tell us about some of the key challenges and successes that big brands face?
For me, the biggest challenge for brands is getting the CEO behind the innovation. It is so difficult to be innovative so you need the leader and the people running the company to help you get through the inevitable internal barriers and obstacles. If the top dog is not interested, it is really difficult to make anything happen.
"You have to champion and reward people who do things that are innovative and exciting."
So, other than getting the CEO involved, how can we create a company-wide culture of innovation?
You have to champion and reward people that do things that are innovative and exciting; you have to build these processes into the way that you work. So, if someone takes a risk, whether it succeeds or not, you have to hold them up as an example, support them, give them a bonus or a promotion, just find a way to get behind them. If the company sees them being rewarded. It will show them that this culture of exciting thinking is ok.
"Big brands succeed when they understand how they are going to make that person’s life a little bit better."
Once you have the idea part cracked, how can you turn these innovative thoughts into brands?
Fundamentally, if you are trying to market new brands, it is pretty basic, but it comes down to understanding who is going to buy it, and it comes back to doing something that solves a problem. I see so many new brands that don’t solve a consumer or customer problem. But, if there is a deep issue there, and you’re able to solve it and do it in a way that helps people not only feel good about themselves but about the product too (that comes down to packaging and the presentation), then you’re onto something good.
At the heart of it, big brands succeed when they understand how they are going to make that person’s life a little bit better.
What is the inspiration behind Sofar Sounds?
The inspiration was about innovation. A couple of others and I realised there were a few problems behind live gigs. People talk, people text and the bar is open. We thought, how can we solve this? So, the inspiration moment came from actually being at a gig. We left and went to my friend Dave’s house, told everyone to be quiet and focus on the music, not all the other things. This got us to start Sofar Sounds, then it began to grow globally as other people wanted music to be a part of their lives too, without all the other problems.
Rafe Offer speaking at The Knowledge Guild
What’s next for you?
Sofar sounds is growing and adding another city every few weeks, so we are trying to grow it into a kind of travel company that helps people find a Sofar Sounds gig on any day, in any country, and the same applies for the artists. We want them to be able to perform wherever, whenever. We are creating a rotating group of artists and travellers in their own city or in another city in the world, who get to enjoy one of these intimate secret gigs literally at any time anywhere on the planet. We are not quite yet on Mars, but we are getting there.
Thanks Rafe, we look forward to the extraterrestrial gigs.
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