Brands tend to operate out of fear of losing — losing market share; losing shelf space; losing customers. They play defense. Ask any incumbent or “legacy” brand, and they will likely be able to name a competitor that didn’t exist five years ago who is eating at their profits. Thanks to technology, it’s easier to enter a market than ever before; advertising is cheaper, retailers are looking for new options, and e-commerce is leveling the playing field. So what’s a legacy brand to do to win against brands that seem to be playing not only at another level, but a different game?
Good teams may wind up having a great season or two, but great organizations win way more over the long run.
This happens in business, too. People tend to conflate “brands” and “companies”. Brands are a company asset; and brands don’t make decisions, companies do. A brand can only be as healthy — or as modern — as the company is. Everyone — especially agencies — think they have brands figured out. But those solutions fall down when they actually have to be implemented by companies. We’re emerging from an era where leading brands and companies have been the same leading brands and companies for decades. But now, everyone is vulnerable.
These days, it seems the only thing constant is change. But instead of changing, most companies dig in their heels and spend valuable time, resources, energy, and money on preserving their status quo. As NYU Professor Clay Shirky famously says, “Institutions tend to preserve the problems that they are the solution for”. Brands’ natural reaction to adversity is to defend their turf. But what if the ground and ground rules are changing beneath them?