February 5, 2011
Having spent a lot of time in children’s publishing, I learned a lot about what works for kids and parents. The best stories reflect our own lives to some degree, and they often speak the truth. I think you can say the same for creating a brand. Here are a few tips we’ve tried to stick to when creating Ruckus:
- Have a brand vision that you are passionate about.
“Ruckus Media” came from my desire to try to shake up an industry that (at least in my opinion) can be very stodgy. Ruckus is an old-fashioned name; the word comes from late 19th century England, yet we are a totally new digital company with state of the art, cutting-edge technology. I like the friction between these two associations. When one “creates a ruckus,” it’s not a bad thing. We are all having fun; it’s just ever so slightly out of control (but more accurate than you might think). We may even be effecting change. And it certainly isn’t boring.
- Surround yourself with experienced people who believe in your mission.
When thinking about Ruckus, I think all of us in our offices here in Southern Connecticut set out to create apps we could trust to give to our own kids. Many of us are Moms and Dads. All of us could probably make more money doing something else, but we enjoy working with one another towards a common cause.
- Create a brand that you, yourself, would invest in as a consumer.
As parents we have the daunting and enduring responsibility – if we choose to take it on – of being the curator of everything that enters our child’s world. Until they push us away, (figuratively or literally), we choose their food, their entertainment etc. and we imprint them with our own values as best we can. Sometimes it is hard to pay attention to every detail. That’s where our apps come in.
- Create a brand that offers variety/diversity of product – and respects the end user.
Our goal is to create a wide array of apps parents can trust. For us, giving an app to a child should be a bit like taking a child to the playground. At the playground a child will often get exercise, but for them, it is all about the see-saw and the swings. Kids will learn when they use our apps, but first and foremost we hope they have fun. One of our first critically acclaimed apps, A Present for Milo, has 85 touch points and 125 animations – perfect for curious minds and little fingers. In Andrew Answers, another original app, our main character is cleverly teasing his teacher with his responses. Our Rabbit Ears apps allow caregivers to record the story and “read” to a child from far away. In everything we do, we try to respect kids and what they need.
- Be open to change and be willing to constantly revise your business plan.
The app world is a bit like the Wild West at the moment. I read recently that the best companies refer to their business plans more as a “business guess”. It should be a flexible document.
Guest contributor Rick Richter, CEO, Ruckus Media Group is a leader in children’s intellectual property development and a seasoned publishing executive. Rick served most recently as President and Publisher of the Simon & Schuster Children’s Division (1996 – 2008) and while there, established the company as a consistent award-winning children’s and young adult publisher of many bestselling brands, including Olivia (Nickelodeon, Spring ‘09) and The Spiderwick Chronicles (Paramount, ‘08), He’s Just Not That Into You (New Line, ‘08) and Yes, Man (Warner Bros ’08).
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