Maybe it happens once in a generation, maybe more often, but we usually know it when we see it: Something takes the world as it was and sends it spinning in a new direction. We asked an assortment of Interbranders to identify just such a pivotal moment, invention, or idea.
Strategy Advisor, Interbrand Moscow
When a specialist confirmed that I had to wear glasses from the age of 13 on, I was devastated. That was long before glasses became a fashionable accessory, when they were just an ugly necessity. I spent my teenage years putting my glasses on in the cinema after the film started and stumbling half-blind through school. Then, at the end of the 1970s, came the lenses, and I bought a pair with my hard-earned money. I could forget about my handicap, and practice kissing! Contact lenses freed countless people like me from the limitations (and embarrassments) of bad eyesight, and empowered us to contribute our best to the world.
CEO, Interbrand Australia and New Zealand
This is a rendering of a sketch by FedEx founder, Fred Smith. It’s the simple yet radical
plan he began formulating as a Yale student in the 1960s for delivering packages overnight by integrating ground and air service under one carrier and routing everything through a central hub. While those who should have been his fiercest competitors held firm to the prevailing industry wisdom that overnight service was not economically viable, Smith went about building a billion-dollar business that revolutionized international delivery. His little scribble created a new category, changed the world of transportation, and serves as a reminder that business convention isn’t immutable.
Global COO/CFO, Interbrand
It is simply amazing to consider that humans can build highly complex computers that can listen to, interpret, and then respond to verbal dialogue—and with lightning speed. It is hard to believe that these computers, built by humans, can process information faster and far more effectively than a human. Consider Siri, the iPhone personal assistant app that understands spoken instructions and knows which other apps to use to get those things done. It’s taken the term “user-friendly” to a new level. And yet, this is simply a function of human intelligence. Where will product and technology innovation take us next? One thing is certain: it will continue to be world changing.
Douglass de Villiers
CEO, Interbrand South Africa
The AK-47 is acknowledged as a masterpiece of simple design, and since its introduction in 1949, it has helped shape the economic and the political environments in emerging markets around the world, from Russia to China to the Congo to Venezuela. Thanks to its ease of use, reliability, and widespread availability, the AK-47 has long been the assault rifle of choice for militaries, terrorist groups, and insurgents alike. In Africa and other parts of the developing world, it’s a celebrated symbol of revolution, and for much of the developed Western world, it’s an object of fear. Anywhere you go, it has a reputation that precedes it.
Managing Director, Interbrand Mumbai
Satyagraha is the practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Mahatma Gandhi that eventually led to the liberation of India from British colonial rule. Translated literally, satyagraha means holding firmly to the truth. Gandhi believed that truth could not be communicated by violence in any form, so he instructed his adherents to endure the suffering inflicted on them by their oppressors with patience and compassion. If they held firm, the truth would win out. Both Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr. took up the principles of satyagraha in their own struggles, and the legacy is still alive today from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park.