Making Moonshots: The power of open source brand toolkits

Allbirds just released an open source toolkit around their new M0.0NSHOT shoe. Check out the toolkit here >

It’s exciting to see - I believe all of tomorrow’s smartest brands will open up their IP like this.

BUT - I can’t help feeling they’ve missed an opportunity…

First, the good stuff.

Bringing others inside your world is good for business. It can benefit your brand, employees, customers, and the wider world. Here are three areas these initiatives can affect:

1. Innovation & Impact

Openly sharing the best of what you’ve figured out helps move things forward: for the industry you're in, but also other sectors, plus education, government, and beyond.

2. Brand

Allbirds can use initiatives like this as a full-funnel flex - increasing brand awareness at the one end, and deepening customer loyalty at the other.

3. Talent

Implemented well, these projects can inspire, engage, and even retain employees. On the outside, they can act as a smart way to build a more diverse talent pipeline.

Here’s that ‘but’, though. Three things stuck out:

1. Format & Modes

On getting access to the toolkit, I was a little dismayed to see it’s a single PDF. Now, PDFs are wonderful in many ways - accessible, widely understood, compact - but the format is 30+ years old. A flat delivery format doesn’t encourage exploration or action. There are dozens of other formats and approaches that could be used here to further elevate and amplify the material.

2. All kit, no tools

The PDF reads more like a white paper or trends report than a toolkit. If a tool is ‘a device or implement used to carry out a particular function’, I’m not sure there are any tools in this kit?

3. Prompts & On-Ramps

The ‘where we need you’ sections start to get to this, but how about some Prompts or Challenges to get people Thinking, or even better, Doing? Depending on who this is aimed at (I’m not 100% sure?), the on-ramps into the materials could be reduced, too.

4 ways forwards

I don't wanna be a hypocrite, so here are 4 simple improvements the Allbirds team could make for future editions:

1. Repository: of data/materials/tools that were used in production (and even marketing) - this could be hosted with a tool like Airtable, Notion or Github

2. Collect: input from people on their reflections and ideas around some of the topics and prompts. These can be used as a springboard for new campaigns, collaborations, and beyond

3. Stories: of the challenges the team faced during production. Use real humans, in the real environment, with real stories

4. Versions: that are designed for different groups. This doesn’t need to be a ton of extra work - with some smart remixing, the same core materials can be made accessible for shoe designers, curious customers, social impact activists, or school kids.

What’s your take on this initiative?

And which other companies would you like to see take an open source approach? Do tell...

[image: via Allbirds]

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