Nicolas Cole on Category Design

Nicolas Cole on Category Design

Joining me this week is Nicolas Cole.

Nicolas Cole is 1/3 of Category Pirates – together with Eddie Yoon and Christopher Lochhead. This trio is pioneering the work around the concept of Category Design. A quick passage from their new book does a brilliant job explaining what category design is:

Category Designers introduce the world to new ways of living, working and playing. They are people and companies who move the world from the way it is, to the way they think it should be. Often by solving a problem people didn’t know they had or by reimagining a known problem, and then creating the potential for radically different solutions. Most of all, they create and subsequently capture the exponential new value generated by an ecosystem of employees, customers, partners, investors and communities. Category Designers play the game differently and experience outside rewards as a result.”

I became fascinated with Category Design when I sat down to plan the future of Curious Lion. The part that really intrigued me about Category Design is that by creating a category, you can go about credibly marketing the category as opposed to your business, which for many business owners feels more than a little bit uncomfortable. In contrast, talking about the category or the passion that drives the business could be something you do endlessly.

In this conversation with Cole, we are able to break apart what it means to create a category, and how to go about category design. We use Curious Lion as a case study later on in the conversation, which I think you’ll find fascinating as Cole gives incredible advice at every corner on how to go about refining my ideas for my category.

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • How to create new categories and redesign old ones.
  • The magic triangle, the nine levers, and the category design scorecard.
  • Examples that illustrate the points that Cole, Eddie and Christopher cover, in their many, many writings on this topic.

If you have any interest in understanding how the likes of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk have created massive value as inventors of new products, then this is the episode for you.

Please sit back, relax and enjoy my conversation with Nicolas Cole.

Full Episode

Guest Links

Show Notes

  • What is Category Design? (00:03:40-00:06:33)
  • Playing your own game: success stories of companies that have done Category Design. (00:07:54-00:15:12)
  • The first step to consider when creating a category, beginning with a unique problem. (00:15:13-00:20:22)
  • The power of super consumers as a source of answers and how they refine the direction of building. (00:20:23-00:24:55)
  • What is backcasting, and what role does it play in Category Design? (00:25:34-00:29:16)
  • Business models and the benefits of creating a radically different one. (00:29:27-00:35:11)
  • The significance of creating and establishing category differences. (00:35:12-00:37:29)
  • Leveraging your community and how it can help set your Data Flywheels in motion. (00:38:07-00:45:39)
  • The future re-imagined: How to educate the market and experience transformation. (00:45:40-00:50:38)
  • We use my company, Curious Lion as our case study – beginning by refining my ideas for my category. (00:50:39-00:57:25)
  • How to leverage the outcomes and the benefits of a community (00:57:26-1:02:58)
  • Real business growth: Creating your own market. (1:02:59-1:04:33)
  • We dig deeper into Curious Lion as a case study, discussing how to go about building your Data Flywheel and the possible outcomes. (1:04:34-1:08:49)
  • Nicolas offers more insight and tips on the art of Category Design. (1:09:06-1:16:16)
  • We discuss the customer’s story as the most vital part of the business. (1:16:17-1:19:58)

Selected Links from the Episode

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