Vision: An African Future

With Africa’s future and innovation in Africa a point of interest for us at Bamboo too, Bogosi’s vision was real exciting for us to imagine and create.

What does ‘An African Future’ look like? Well, to us, taking into consideration that Bogosi needs to get around in the digital space, a space-boda-boda, complete with custom African print body work because we know Bogosi has a penchant for African-print-anything, seemed the perfect expression of his vision. A true vision of an African future, original and progressive.

Boda-boda – a term used for motorcycle taxis used extensively in East & now West Africa. Read more about the boda-boda here.

Raison d’être

Brands are the sum total of varied interactions and experiences accrued over time. We believe that well-managed brands have the ability to drive incremental business growth. There-in lies an inextricable link between brand, business and marketing, so we have done away with puff terms like ‘brand equity’ and ‘brand love’ that cloud the clarity of purpose; to drive incremental growth through a well-managed brand. However, brands are built for and by those who consume and interact with them, so although our definition of brands and their value stays fixed, the Zeitgeist will determine the methods and techniques that generate leads and ultimately translate to increased revenue. With our fingers on this pulse we have through research and experience come to our organisation’s raison d’être based on these beliefs.

At Bamboo we grow brands through incremental innovation, substantial innovation or transformative innovation.  This is why…


In the web 2.0 hyper-connected world consumers are the new brand custodians…

Social media has ushered in an era of vocal consumers who will be your greatest advocates and simultaneously your harshest critics. From Time magazine naming ‘you’ the person of the year, to Obama’s re-election, to the Kony protest, and Gangam Style becoming the world’s number one song, the power of consumers is irrefutable. According to Bamboo innovation_HBR logo many savvy marketers and business leaders have acknowledged this, and have been rewarded handsomely for it. bamboo innovation_coke logo‘s move to Content 2020 (a strategy to achieve double digit volume growth through storytelling), is a bold move in a direction that empowers consumers to follow and share stories centered around a big brand idea. In reality, the majority of businesses and marketers have latched onto buzz keywords like ‘digital’, ‘social media’ and ‘viral’, with little understanding of the seismic shift in paradigm and its underlying causes. Hence in practice it ends up being a billboard featuring a bamboo innovation_facebook logo icon or a catchy bamboo innovation_twitter logo handle, or a TV advert uploaded to YouTube, or truckloads of money spent on paid online advertising with the hopes that they’ll become ‘viral’. In truth, if one spends time uncovering the reasons and patterns that underlie 2.0 consumer behaviour we can harness the potential of these empowered and connected consumers. At Bamboo, we have worked tirelessly to understand this not only by studying these patterns, but immersing ourselves in them as well. We have come up with a few key concepts to understand and live by:bamboo innovation_Social media icon set in bubbles talk


“They know more than you think.”

This is not known as the information age for nothing. Trillions of bytes move around the world daily. One of the most important things to realize about this is that information does not follow the linear institutionalised flow of information.   “MIT computer programming” and you will find free lectures from the world’s foremost technological university. Perhaps you could   “Strategic Marketing pdf”. The point is people are learning what they want, where they want, when they want, with man’s insatiable appetite for knowledge, what makes you think he won’t?

So remember that people know about brands, marketing, business, ethics, etc., we are not magicians, the public wants to be fooled, and they choose when to be. So never make the mistake of underestimating the intelligence of your audience.

“Don’t tell them to feel something, make them feel something.” 

What do all of these have in common?

bamboo innovation_obama



bamboo innovation_ soldier

bamboo innovation_ photobomb

They all stir emotion. These images are some of the world’s most viral. How come? Well it’s simple. Some behavioural studies have shown as much as 90 percent of our decisions are made emotionally. This is very important. We act based on what we feel. Which makes complete sense; cute kittens, fails and porn, all share a similar characteristic –  they illicit a physiological response, a “ncaww”, or laughter or sexual arousal, so the acid test for virality or success can no longer be what we want to say and how we want to say it without considering how the audience will feel when they see it. We chase “aha” moments, tears, laughter, awe, fear, etc., because this is what sticks and what ultimately influences decisions.

“Innovation is viral.”

The new world is hungry. Reddit, has proven that the world has an insatiable appetite for the new and novel. Visit which has become one of the most popular sites on the internet – it’s a home for user-generated content. What makes it different is that innovation is at its heart. Innovative toys, to costumes, perspectives and humour, it is simply a content feast! And this content is shared worldwide by millions. Innovations are viral. On the right is an example of this; one of the hundreds of thousands of “Harlem Shake” versions (Youtube “Harlem Shake” and see what the fuss is about if you don’t know already. It’s even funnier when you see the original “Do the Harlem Shake” to give you context of how it all started).

Memes are a biological unit of cultural information transferred, resulting in shared behaviour. The phenomenon of Harlem Shake proves that we live in an age of consumer innovation, and consumer driven virality.

bamboo innovation_Harlem shake


Open collaboration.

A study on global leaders by IBM shows trends in outperforming organisations. Their study indicates that to drive outperformance, CEO’s are doing the following: [threecol_two_first]

Empowering employees through values.

For CEOs, organisational openness offers tremendous upside potential – empowered employees, free-flowing ideas, more creativity and innovation, happier customers, better results. But openness also comes with more risk. As rigid controls loosen, organisations need a strong sense of purpose and shared beliefs to guide decision making. Teams will need processes and tools that inspire collaboration on a massive scale. Perhaps most important, organisations must help employees develop traits to excel in this type of environment.


Engaging customers as individuals.

The pursuit of customer knowledge is as old as business itself, but where and how those insights are found and used, are radically changing. To effectively engage an individual, consumer, client or citizen, organisations must weave together insights about the whole person – from sources they likely haven’t consulted in the past. They will need stronger analytics capabilities to uncover patterns and answer questions they never thought to ask. Client-facing staff and channels must be equipped to act on those insights. And since customers are increasingly mobile, organisations must be active there too, ready to engage in the context of the moment.


Amplifying innovation with partnerships.

Rising complexity and escalating competition have made partnering a core innovation strategy for many organisations. But to enable sustained, fruitful innovation partnerships, organisations will need deeper, more integrated relationships. Partnering organisations will have to share collaborative environments, share data – and share control. And even when the organisation is performing well, CEOs must occasionally break from the status quo and introduce new external catalysts, unexpected partners and some intentionally disruptive thinking.

Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Genzyme, General Electric and Intel are examples of how one can attain market leadership through open innovation strategies. They tapped into knowledge that resided outside their own structures and thus out manoeuvred and outperformed their competitors with in-house approaches to innovation.

open innovation_bamboo


“This is some of what global leaders have to say about how to lead in this interconnected world:”

“This is now a continuous feed-back kind of world, and we need the organisational nimbleness to respond.”

– CEO, Financial Markets, United StatesNY stock exchange (US financial markets)_bamboo innovation

“We are focused on empowering employees to be more creative and active in creating the company’s future. We need to mobilise our collective brain power for innovation.”

– President and CEO, Consumer Products, Canada    Food & Consumer Products of Canada_bamboo innovation


“Of course we need better information and insight, but what we need most is the capability to act on it.”

– Unit Head, Government, Hong Kong    Hong_Kong_SAR_Regional_Emblem_bamboo innovation

“Each customer has distinctive traits we need to understand. To manage this complexity, we must be a digital cheetah.”

– President,   Axiata

“Social Networking has and will continue to significantly change how we do business. The way we collaborate with our customers will be transformed.”

– CEO,  Symantec_logo

“We recognise that innovation is also happening outside of our organisation, and we need to align with the right partners and thought leaders.”

– President, Sony-Logo_bamoo innovation

“We are not as good at innovation as efficiency. The HR function should help to build an innovative culture, create forums, develop leaders and find ways to measure and reward innovation.”

– Senior Vice President, Human Resources,  SKANSKA-bamboo innovation

“The HR function should be taking a leadership role in identifying tools for collaboration. It should also set up and facilitate ‘communities of practice”.

– Chief Human Capital Officer,   US small business administration_bamboo innovation


Traditional agency stuctures aren’t built for the 3.0 world

When you look at this picture, you realise how traditional agency structures are not built to respond to this new 3.0 world. This is why Bamboo goes a step further by having at its heart a social network of consumer innovators who feed us information, help us solve problems and push us to create better work. To take it a step further; our network is also our pool of skills, information and insight. This gives us the edge.

So while the core agency remains small, the organisation could rival the biggest in size and talent. We also create groups within the network that clients can be anonymously a part of, not only watch their ideas come to life, but also to contribute to the group their own valuable insights, knowledge and expertise. Delivering true open innovation for incremental growth.

The true nature of innovation: from challenges to opportunities

The last year  has been the most challenging in our company’s short history. No time has taught us the true value of innovation like this. Our outlook has always been turning challenges to opportunities. I will tell you a story of antifragility and innovation and tell you what learning we have accumulated on the key components of innovation.

With the festive season over we returned to work rejuvenated and ready to make an impact. Our biggest problem was cash flow and the generation of new leads. While we were thinking about what New Year’s message to send to our clients, we thought about our value system, and decided the best thing to do was to focus on delivering value to our stakeholders. This is when we developed the 2014 Vision Project. The results where amazing, and very telling of the true nature of innovation. Not only did our clients appreciate the gesture, it also helped them shape their visions for the year. The clients were so overwhelmed by the gesture they all suggested increasing their current business or entering into new projects with us.

It lead us to the understanding that innovation in a team requires 8 key components:

  1. Motivation – You have to want it. Without a real reason to do what you’re are doing it is near impossible to drive a team to meaningful results.
  2. Insight – Not just knowledge, but insight, a revelation of some sort. Few great innovations have been without one.
  3. Confidence – Your team must believe in themselves and their ability to do the exceptional.
  4. Creativity – The mental ability to create something. Your team must explore what can be and not just what is.
  5. Skill – Ability will determine the quality of your execution. Make sure you have the right mix of skills.
  6. Fun – Your team must enjoy what they are doing. Without this it is difficult to get the inspired environment required for breakthroughs to happen.
  7. Service – You must be of service to someone. Do not innovate to appease your own egos. Do it for somebody else, after all they will adopt, purchase or support your innovation. That is the true nature of innovation.
  8. Diversity – A respect for different approaches, backgrounds and views is fundamental to getting novel ideas throughout the process.

Innovation is not a specific action, but rather a culture that you cultivate over time. Any industry or group, regardless of function or purpose, must think about how they are solving problems. Here at Bamboo we pride ourselves in being an innovation ecosystem, constantly innovating for success. That is our true strength and if you follow the 8 key components I’m quite sure you will start to see the same results in your organisation. And realise for yourself the true nature of innovation.

Image reference:

The evolution of the web

In a blink the Web has become possibly one of the most important human developments ever. As the Web grew as a business opportunity many of the world’s large companies have grown with websites at their centre.

How has the evolution of the web manifested its self?

Explore the full evolution of the web here in this interactive website.

Below are ‘then & now’ comparisons of 10 of some of the most popular websites and how they’ve changed since their inception.

Ebay, then

Bamboo_network_Evolution of the web_amazon now_ebay oldEbay, now

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_ebay now

MySpace, then

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_my space now

MySpace, now

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_my space now

Wikipedia, then

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_Wikipedia then

Wikipedia, now

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_Wikipedia now

Yahoo, then

Bamboo_network_evolution_yahoo now

Yahoo now

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_yahoo now

Youtube, then

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_youtube then

Youtube, now

Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_youtube now

Facebook, then
Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_facebook now

Facebook, now
Bamboo_innovation_Evolution of the web_facebook now

Innovation strategy: a look at China, originality and copying

“The New Originality”, a witty project by Droog (Amsterdam) in a search for new incentives, new business models, and new ways of developing original thought, links copying to innovation and looks to the hub of copycat culture – China. How does copying affect ‘innovation strategy’?

Brands steal from each other all the time so what’s the big deal?

What’s the value of overpriced “original” ideas that can be copied and innovated, sometimes being made even better than the original, at a fraction of the cost – especially in a world where the divide between the haves and the have nots is so large? Innovative ideas don’t have to be original to create value. Consumers would agree we’re sure, but what about brands? Would a brand dare to “re-innovate” another brand’s original idea openly? Brands do copy and steal from each other all the time anyway – is that a bad thing when it often means ideas are bettered? Isn’t that what innovation’s about – finding new ways to make things better? How long is an idea original? We think Droog has opened a very interesting topic here.

Imagine tweaking the old saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to “imitation is a sincere form of innovation.”

This is the attitude behind a set of 26 new objects created by the witty Dutch design collective Droog. Each of the objects, you see, are copies of traditional Chinese designs, such as teapots and vases. Only they’re slightly tweaked: the pot has a chic, sleek new handle; the vase is decorated with hip, minimalist stripes. These “fakes” will be on view in a cheeky new exhibition that opens on March 9 in a Chinese shopping mall in Guangzhou. And all of the objects were made in Shenzhen, an area known for its copycat goods.

The show, called “The New Original,” is part of a larger initiative, “The New Originality,” by Droog Lab, a research arm of Droog. It consisted of visiting China and doing field observations of design practices and hosting workshops there to discuss findings in the context of global design. While the show in China might seem almost stunt-like, the issues that it raises have business relevance.

As stated on Droog Lab’s site,

…if we are for or against open design and co-creation, we have to admit that a rigid system of copyright laws can block creative thinking. Since copying is deeply rooted in Chinese culture and is not seen as something negative, we believe China can be a model country for new understandings of originality.

Click here for the full article.


Reclaim Your Creative Confidence

It’s been a passionate departure point at Bamboo – that creatives need to spend as much time out of the office as in it. It seems too much of a creative’s skills must by default include being able to project oneself into the mind or environment of a subject or topic for every single job. Very rarely do creatives in the ad industry get to immerse themselves in their subject matter.

While solutions can still be reached in the confines of an office as has been the status quo for years, with no signs of reprieve, this article proves that increasing creative confidence by getting out of the office for constructive immersions, can almost always positively impact ideas.

Creativity is the most sought-after trait in leaders today.

Most people are born creative. As children, we revel in imaginary play, ask outlandish questions, draw blobs and call them dinosaurs. But over time, because of socialisation and formal education, a lot of us start to stifle those impulses. We learn to be warier of judgment, more cautious, more analytical. The world seems to divide into “creatives” and “non-creatives,” and too many people consciously or unconsciously resign themselves to the latter category.

And yet we know that creativity is essential to success in any discipline or industry. According to a recent IBM survey of chief executives around the world, it’s the most sought-after trait in leaders today. No one can deny that creative thinking has enabled the rise and continued success of countless companies, from start-ups like Facebook and Google to stalwarts like Procter & Gamble and General Electric.

Students often come to Stanford University’s “” (which was founded by one of us—David Kelley—and is formally known as the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) to develop their creativity. Clients work with IDEO, our design and innovation consultancy, for the same reason. But along the way, we’ve learned that our job isn’t to teach them creativity. It’s to help them rediscover their creative confidence — the natural ability to come up with new ideas and the courage to try them out. We do this by giving them strategies to get past four fears that hold most of us back: fear of the messy unknown, fear of being judged, fear of the first step, and fear of losing control.

Click here for the full story on creative confidence by Tom Kelley (general manager of IDEO) and David Kelley (founder and chairman of IDEO).

Image credit: Teddy Hahn

The Top 30 innovations that changed the world

According to the University of Pennsylvania, these are the top 30 innovations of the past 30 years. These innovations span all disciplines and have shifted the world, and propelled it forward.

The verdict is in: the Internet and PCs are the most transformative innovations seen in the last 30 years

Earlier this year, a panel of academicians from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School collectively came up with a list of what they felt were the top 30 innovations of the last 30 years.

The Wharton judges first had to define what innovation means in an age dominated by digital technology, medical advancements and mobile communications. Another qualification was the problem-solving value of the innovations. The innovations were selected based on how they impact quality of life, fulfill a compelling need, solve a problem, exhibit a “wow” factor, change the way business is conducted, increase efficiency, spark new innovations and create a new industry.
  1. Internet, broadband, WWW (browser and html)
  2. PC/laptop computers
  3. Mobile phones
  4. E-mail
  5. DNA testing and sequencing/Human genome mapping
  6. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  7. Microprocessors
  8. Fiber optics
  9. Office software (spreadsheets, word processors)
  10. Non-invasive laser/robotic surgery (laparoscopy)
  11. Open source software and services (e.g., Linux, Wikipedia)
  12. Light emitting diodes
  13. Liquid crystal display (LCD)
  14. GPS systems
  15. Online shopping/ecommerce/auctions (e.g., eBay)

Click here to browse the full list.

Image credit: Paul Foreman

Moyeni Mahlangu – Lead Designer

“Design is the structure of things that speak to our souls.”

Moyeni Mahlangu – Creator

Moyeni is a creative with an acute and thorough understanding of branding and design. Raised in a musical home, Moyeni’s sense for creativity was honed while he learnt to walk. Moyeni’s creativity lead him down a visual path exploring design, art and photography at the National School of the Arts where he excelled. Along with his symbiotic relationship with technology, he constantly explores beyond the boundaries of design yet still respecting its fundamentals. A design thinker who gets that design is a process to produce an elegant solution to any problem.

Having worked on various accounts from UNISA, the National Ports Authority and South African Tourism, Moyeni Mahlangu is no stranger to the industry and what it takes. His expertise, inventiveness, skill and willingness to learn, listen and teach not only make Moyeni an invaluable member of the Bamboo team, but make his role indispensable to the creation and enhancement of our organisation.

Currently Learning:

Introduction to computational arts: Processing; State University of New York


Design: Creation of artifacts in society; University of Pennsylvania

Design thinking for business innovation; University of Virginia

Creativity, Innovation, and change; The Pennsylvania State University

Fundamentals of digital image and video processing; Northwestern University

View Moyeni Mahlangu's LinkedIn profileView Moyeni Mahlangu’s profile