The Most Highly effective Manufacturers Have At all times Been Agile
Marketing and communication can be reinvented again and again, with each new and excuse-free reproduction being billed as a break with an apparently blind and rigid tradition. Except they're nothing of the sort. Although things stay fresh, most reinvention is historical repetition.
Take part of the discussion about brands, with the key concept being that a brand needs to be agile and adaptable and looking for opportunities, as opposed to a voice embodied by a logo. The argument makes sense until you feel that the definition is incorrect and the new idea is not current.
The agile brand concept is a century old
Brand is not an identity, even if some marketers confuse it as such. Brand is (and always has been) the relationship between a product and its customer, as Phil Dusenberry, former chairman of BBDO Worldwide, once described. And just like all relationships, they have to change over time.
Put simply, this has always prompted companies to make one of three decisions. You can either customize the relationship to meet the changing needs of aging customers. try to limit their relationship to a specific demographic group and hopefully win new customers to replace those who no longer identify with the product; or find new customers with whom they want to define a completely new relationship.
For this reason, Revlon has matured (adapted) its brand, Nike rarely fluctuates when it comes to reaching the sweet spot between aspiring athletes and professionals (demographically), and Volkswagen has exchanged its coolness for mainstream (new relationships). This is also the reason why RadioShack has problems despite a buyout as a brand. This team's marketers continue to confuse identity with a brand consisting of a DIY mass that the chain had long ignored and neglected.
It also explains why entire markets such as Zipcar, Uber and Airbnb can be disrupted in the car rental, taxi and hotel industries. Eventually, if companies apply an industry standard for a true brand relationship (e.g. airlines, fast food, grocery chains), customers will make buying decisions based on price or convenience rather than a relationship. Or, as in the case of the examples mentioned, buy from brands that cause excitement.
How to build an agile brand that keeps pace with change
The modern brand model is less "modern" than a tried and tested revision of a tried and tested model. A successful brand fulfills its relationship with a customer because of its ability to deliver on a brand promise that the customer values. As long as the company lives up to this promise (and the customer appreciates it), the relationship is strong enough to withstand short-term challenges.
In addition, the organization must be prepared for change: ready to change with the customers it has won, or willing to let them go while acquiring new customers or ready to deliver its brand promise for a different kind of Reinventing relationship with (possibly). different customers. In any case, the value of a brand promise is almost always based on the company's willingness to find contrasts between its products and services and the competition, so that customers have a real choice.
What if some people don't like your contrast? No problem. Not everyone has to be your customer as long as those who are your customers remain satisfied loyalists. They will work hard to help you find like-minded customers – the most valuable reward a company can hope for.
Contribution to the Branding Strategy Insider by: Richard Becker, professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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