The two magic words tying together this year’s list of most innovative companies in branding are community and content.
Each explored, in their own unique ways across platforms and audiences, work that added value to the experience—whether that was on Twitch, HBO, or at an NBA game—instead of becoming just more noise.
Chipotle met its customers where they live: on Roblox and Discord. Wendy’s dropped into a slew of popular video games to connect. The Jif peanut butter brand from the J.M. Smucker Company took to TikTok. The rising-star crypto exchange FTX introduced itself to potential traders with an aggressive sports sponsorship strategy via the Miami Heat’s arena, Major League Baseball umpire uniforms, and stars Tom Brady and Steph Curry, among others.
Of course, it’s not just about being in the right place at the right time but being there with the best content in the moment. The cult running brand On and surf-gear retailer Need Essentials struck the perfect tone with inspiring films that would work even without a brand attached. And the mindfulness app Calm and women’s athleisure brand Athleta found the right moments to participate in larger cultural conversations about mental health.
What brands put out into the world should always be met with the question, Why should we care?
These brands answered not only in the level of ambition in their ideas but also in the sheer quality and creativity in how they came to life.
For riding to glory with its most passionate fans
The past year for the L.A.-based electric motorbike brand Super73 (which began as a Kickstarter in 2016) can be summed up in two words: community and collaboration. While it may be cool to have Justin Bieber, Jack Black, and Madonna ordering Super73’s electric bikes, or ASAP Rocky and Will Smith giving them as gifts, the real power lies with the brand’s Super Squad. This engaged group of global customers shares photos, stories, and, more importantly, spearheads the brand’s experiential work.
The squad organizes rides and gatherings in cities around the world, and in the spirit of old-school bike customization, some Super Squad members have created side businesses of products that are made exclusively for Super73 bikes.
On the partnership front, Super73 has pedaled into the consciousness of hypebeasts everywhere (and new customers like Jay-Z and Beyoncé), thanks to custom bike collaborations with Hot Wheels, Tyler, the Creator’s Golf Wang, and global football club Paris Saint-Germain. Super73 thrives by balancing its own brand image and how its most passionate customers see it, then actually integrating that into its products and brand experience.
Explore the full 2022 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 528 organizations whose efforts are reshaping their businesses, industries, and the broader culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact with their initiatives across 52 categories, including the most innovative advertising, media, and design companies.