• Matt Wallis

Is Your Business Punk Enough To Disrupt?

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Way back in the mid-70s, punk crawled its way off the streets and into our living rooms. It was in your face, intense, rude, and loud. The punk movement was impossible to ignore, and it found an immediate audience in those sick of the status quo.

Punk made such an enduring social impact on the world that there are still people who continue to classify themselves as having the punk attitude nearly 45 years after the first defiant gob of spit landed between the horrified eyes of the establishment.

So powerful is the punk mindset of disruption its ethos has transformed the business environment we know today. The punk attitude screams in the face of traditional business to remind us that sometimes the conventional way of doing things isn't always the best option.

The reason punk culture is still a pervasive force is that the foundations of punk exist in doing things differently. When people rise against the status quo, they stand out in a way that's hard to ignore. As reassuring as it might be to hold onto tried-and-tested strategies, sometimes rules are simply meant to be broken.

The punk attitude screams in the face of traditional business and reminds us that sometimes the conventional way of doing things isn't always the best option.

Most businesses feel safer when they follow suit with what everyone else is doing because it's simply the least risky thing to do. However, punk culture screams "NO!" and encourages us to mutinously head off in a completely different direction.

While there's nothing wrong with sticking to the things that work for your company, if you want to unlock your industry, convert your customers into brand ambassadors, or make your business go viral, then you need to do something different.

Is It All Bollocks?

Richard Branson and his Virgin empire was an early disruptor - thanks in part to his signing the infamous UK punk band The Sex Pistols.

Setting up shop above a shoe store in Oxford Street, London, Branson, and entrepreneurs Simon Draper, Nik Powell, and musician Tom Newman spotted an opportunity, took a gamble, and made it big.

Due to the Sex Pistols 'disruptive' behaviour and the adverse media coverage it caused, the band were sacked from their EMI label then in short order A&M Records. However, Branson and his fledgling Virgin label understood the subtle nuances of the saying 'there is no such thing as bad publicity'.

They quickly signed the band and were ready to release God Save The Queen to coincide with the Queen's Silver Jubilee that summer. Using the band's negative press coverage to their advantage, the song made it to No. 2 on the official UK Singles Chart.

"I've always loved pushing against the established way of doing things, to take bold risks and make a difference to other people's lives." Richard Branson

As we know, Branson didn't only disrupt the record industry. He also revolutionised many other business sectors, including; air travel, banking, hotels, money, and most recently space tourism. Business 'punks' like Branson are optimists who believe that anything is possible, and everything is ripe to be 'disrupted'.

Richard talks about signing The Sex Pistols

Google, UBER, Airbnb, BrewDog, Tesla, SpaceX! All these businesses disrupted age-old industries, and if they didn't have a punk attitude, they may not have been so successful.

The Scottish brewer, Brewdog, is another company that's not afraid to stand out and go against the flow. Being such a combative company has meant that BrewDog has also earned no shortage of controversy over the years. Still, this attitude has also helped it gain an army of fans who are genuinely invested in what the company offers.

By creating an idea that stands against outdated norms, many businesses around the globe have established brands that people genuinely want to stand behind. However, despite the exponential growth of disruptor brands, too many businesses are still nurturing a business environment that encourages mediocrity and corporate standards that deliver lukewarm results at best.

Of course, business needs conformists, but to thrive and grow in today's market, business needs a punk mindset, the courage to kick against the norm and the balls to challenge the doctrines of the past.

Punks are the new trailblazers in the corporate world, and you can no longer ignore them!

Think it's all bollocks? Believe that at your peril!

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