What do the following music albums have in common?
Carole King’s ‘Tapestry’, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Axis: Bold as Love’, Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘The Freewhelin’?
If you’re a music wiz, you might know that these are the critically acclaimed second albums of the above musicians. But what you might not know is that these albums are known as being significantly better than their debut predecessors.
Today we’re welcoming RedBalloon 2.0 – our long-awaited “second album”. We have launched a new digital platform and have undergone a full brand refresh including a new website, logo, tagline and purpose. The new website brings to life recommendations and great stories from customers, suppliers and reviewers. And it’s these stories that remind me why I started RedBalloon all those years ago.
In the early days I read and actioned every single review that was sent to us… There was the woman who proposed to her partner as he landed from his skydive, the son who fulfilled his dad’s lifelong dream of going on a DC3 flight and the countless people who conquered lifelong fears. It’s exciting that we now have a digital platform, which brings these stories to life like never before. It’s also incredibly intuitive and encourages exploration.
Now that couldn’t be further from our very first website. I knew from the beginning that the website was never truly finished. I had outsourced the first stage of it and spent $25,000 of our family savings getting it built. It was black with red writing and was just one big image. The only words that appeared in search engines was ‘skip intro’ – talk about an SEO nightmare! After receiving some pretty frank feedback about the site, I knew it needed to be changed. The only problem was I’d spent all our money on the outsourced developer.
Around that time I started chatting to our next-door neighbour Mark Deurden, who had just moved to Australia. As fate would have it, he was a ColdFusion programmer. Mark didn’t yet have a job in the field so I said, “I haven’t got any money – but I have a ColdFusion website if you want to practice on that while you look for a job”. He ended up being our first employee and stayed with us until he left Australia about three years later. We’ve given our website a makeover more times than I can count since 2001, but never to this extent.
Today I have taken time to sit back and reflect on our first album – all 14 years of it. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt throughout the process of starting RedBalloon alongside my business partner Pete, it’s that we are only ever custodians of a brand. RedBalloon doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to our customers. A business’ success cannot be dependent on any personality – especially not the Founding Director. Our first album was a great hit (selling close to 3 million copies), but I’ve got a feeling this next record will be even better.
So as we begin the next chapter of RedBalloon’s history, I feel it is only fitting to quote the inspiring Carole King…
“My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever changing view”.
Today I’m sitting back to enjoy this new and exciting view. But if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s the “rich and royal hue” Carol mentions. After 14 years, it’s still red.
Otto Acuna says
Hi, your first album has been source of inspiration for my own company and journey into entrepreneurship. Your column has been a regular reference on important things to think about.
Thank you and keep the good work. I am just sorry that I can not see from this part of the world the episodes of Aussie Shark Tank, as I would have liked to follow the show too.
Best of luck
Management Consulting, Analytics and Operations
San José, Costa Rica.