Wally Evans, Publisher of Pumps & Systems Magazine and President of Cahaba Media Group, which also publishes Construction Business Owner Magazine, says in a blog posting: Your brand is fragile . . . and temporary.
"Do you still think that a well established brand that leads in industry year after year is virtually impossible to destroy? Or is an unassailable competitor?, he writes. "Think again, and look at General Motors. The world has changed dramatically, and the concept of a "brand", while no less important than it used to be, is now a much more fragile thing."
Just a few years ago, Compaq, Circuit City, Lehman Brothers and Oldsmobile were household names. Today, they are gone. A few others such as AOL, Yahoo, Starbucks and Kodak that were industry flounders and once commanded dominant market share are teetering on the brink of irrelevance.I agree with much of what Evans says here. As a rule, if you are in the fortunate position to have a large business and successful brand, you can use many resources to maintain it -- and retain your innovative edge (you have the money for really thorough psychographic research, proper analysis, and careful planning). But I'm not sure that I agree that brands in the true sense are any more fragile than they always were.
Why? In some cases, poor stewardship of the brand, or unforeseen industry disruptions or mergers are to blame. Often, it is because the company just sat still while others innovated. But there is also something at work here that is generational in nature. Americans today, especially those under 30, are much less loyal to brand than they used to be, and have a lot more choices than we used to. I think it is a good thing, and reflective of a vibrant, entrepreneurial economy. But it is also a warning to the big, dominant, older brands in any marketplace -- be good stewards of your brand, and don't ever stop promoting it.
If we define brand as trust -- the willingness of people to do business with you because they respect you will deliver what they expect (and more, in positive way), then the issue of brand failure is more the failure of trust on the part of the companies holding the previously successful brands.
And this also is good news for you if your reputation is solid, if (during good times) you could rely 100 per cent on referral and repeat business from a diverse group of clients. Things may be slowing now, but you can, and should, maintain your pricing, while designing effective and inexpensive marketing approaches to improve your business flow and stability. You aren't General Motors, thankfully.
I've set a permalink to Evans' blog.