Don’t Think Outside the Box, Reshape It

These Companies Didn’t Think outside the Box, They Changed the Shape of It

Some of the most innovative thinkers never actually left the box as opposed to the famous cliché, “Think outside the box.”

Innovation doesn’t always come from radical approaches. Sometimes, ideas grow from inside-thinking—those which transpire from a constraint environment where people are more focused on the internal aspects of a problem. This often leads to narrowing options rather than widen them, thus people get to address issues effectively. Though it may seem ironic, limiting the discussion and your resources will get you more possibilities which will then boost your team’s ability to solve the problem and productivity.

Some of the most successful companies do this—happily dominating their corner of the market with creative ideas and consistently reshaping their industries, all from the comfort of their ever-changing boxes.

Birchbox and Nike are perfect examples of “inside-the-box” thinking. Both have maintained a core business model, yet turned its respective industry on its ear through innovation, progressive thinking, and purpose.


Birchbox is a toddler by industry standards. Born a mere five years ago to Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, they developed a business model to deliver a selection of sample-size beauty products in a box to the doors of their subscribers every month. This idea skyrocketed the company from $1.4 million in funding in 2010 to more than $70 million in 2015.

Theirs is not the only beauty box subscription company out there. Since launching in 2010, many companies like MyGlam, GlossyBox, and Eco-Emi followed—or tried to—with similar strategies. So how did Birchbox maintain its status as an an industry leader? Two words: creativity and innovation.

Unlike the competition, the company didn’t just offer beauty boxes by mail. Birchbox had something no one else did at the time, an e-commerce website where subscribers could purchase full-size varieties of their favorite samples featured in the monthly boxes.

Birchbox tapped into a new market: women who didn’t particularly enjoy (or have time) shopping at big department stores, weren’t obsessed with beauty, but still expressed interest in trying new products. This gave big retailers an opportunity to be exposed in a unique way.

Birchbox has grown exponentially in a short period of time. This didn’t happen by breaking the structure or jumping out their box and into another. Birchbox has pushed its own boundaries from inside the box—adding layer upon layer to its brand, dramatically transforming and expanding the shape of their box.

Progressive Thinking

In 2010, Nike, Inc., the mega sports apparel company, made a bold move and modified its business model: turning from traditional media marketing strategies to shift focus to social media marketing.

Nike decided to showcase athletes and teams with the biggest fanbases on sites like Facebook and Twitter and have established a high ROI. The shift paid off ten-fold then Nike became a global powerhouse, sustaining its position as one of the leaders in social media marketing.

The company saw the need for change—and change they did—to follow the demand of the modern market. However, Nike never left its box, it skewed the angle of the walls but maintained its structure and core business model.

Further progressive thinking prompted the company to integrate sustainability into its business model. Nike is fully engaged in contributing to an ecological manufacturing process, and developing wholly recyclable products with the least amount of materials possible.


Nike: The vision of purpose is something Nike calls, “North Star.” It includes a dedication to healthy chemistry, climate stability, water stewardship, material recovery, thriving communities, and empowering athletes to join the sustainability bandwagon.

To quote Nike’s corporate business report, “We do not believe we have to make an “either/or” choice between addressing business needs today and attending to the impacts of the future. We must do both. Environmental issues and considerations are the pressing business issues for both tomorrow and today.”

Birchbox: The company not only exposes big name retail beauty products to an audience it wouldn’t be in front of, which is a marketing genius in itself. Birchbox is a company that loves the “little guy” because close to two-thirds of the products they offered online are from small businesses.

“We want to be a destination for small companies and friendly to startups in beauty. We’re more than just a cute box. We’re a retail partner with a very powerful acquisition channel,” says Katia Beauchamp.

Environmentally conscious, Birchbox uses nothing but recyclable materials for all of its packaging. The company is reaching out to retailers to look for more green materials while offering earth-friendly products as well.

Both companies are successful with a distinct purpose— they sustain the planet and give opportunity to small businesses to grow the economy.

Final Thoughts

The world has been accustomed to always look “beyond the box” especially for today’s newest startups. However, doing this might lead to missing out on the good stuff you already have. Inside-the-box thinking is a new approach people should take in consideration. Beyond or new is not always innovative—sometimes, even the most creative ideas are just under our noses waiting to be noticed and be turned into profitable reality.

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