Q. Richard, what's d3o's story?
A. d3o is intelligent shock absorption. It contains intelligent
molecules that lock together on impact to protect you. It's almost
invisible so it doesn't get in the way of your performance. It's revolutionary, it's even in the Science Museum!
Q. Where did it come from? How did you invent something so amazing?
A. It was first made in a kitchen blender at a university! I am an engineer turned creative. I went to the RCA to explore my creative side then set up an innovation consultancy in London. I was working with some amazing materials. The base material of d3o was one of them, a material that temporarily goes solid when you hit it. I wanted to get this in an elastic foam form so it could be useful. The scientist and big companies said it was impossible, but I did it anyway, and here we are.
Q. How did you tell your story?
A. Storytelling was absolutely fundamental to our success. Without creating a narrative around this complex product, I would never have got funding, or so much awareness. We were getting over 300 press citations and about 12 TV appearances a year in the end. It's about creating a belief structure around your entrepreneurial vision. The story, or the brand, has to be alive everywhere. For example, our culture was very open and our structure very flat. We were proud of being different and took on on projects that were a bit radical. We took risks and empowered our staff to think differently. We were competing with big materials suppliers who are a bit dry, so this was a very important positioning strategy for us.
Visually we communicated this difference by making it fluorescent orange. At a startup you need to get noticed so this helped a lot! Our communications were beautifully designed and represented science, performance and revolution. We built tools that would help other people tell our story, so we didn't have to spend money on advertising. We were invited to exhibit at trade shows like Wired Next Fest next to Nasa, we were on the discovery channel many times. Our stories ran through everything that we did and everywhere we went.
Videos of the d3o story >
Case study: Richard Palmer & d3o