Monday, November 29, 2010

The Age of The Transient Brand

Palm Pixi
If you haven't noticed by now, we are shifting from the Industrial Age into the Information Age. New invention, new technologies, methodologies, and a global influence have put hundred year old companies out of business. Why you may ask? Because certain products are no longer being used like they once were (think Kodak film), and e-commerce habits have changed our brick & mortar shopping habits (think browsing at a bookstore).

Trying to keep up can be a nightmare. Just look at Palm, the company that invented the PDA (personal digital assistant- precursor to today's smartphone). They used to dominate with the Palm Pilot. Now the first to invent something is usually the leader...but, Palm seemed to sit back and stagnate. They almost went out of business until last year when the company attempted to stay relevant by launching the Palm Pixi and Pre. Yes, it saved them for a little while longer....but to stay relevant in such a disruptive environment, a company has got to keep inventing things that are relevant. Things that excite the heck out of us (think iPad).

The Palm Pixi did NOT revolutionize anything.

We are entering a different age. I point this out in Liquid Leadership on page 234...

Kodak was last to enter a market they should have pioneered. Inertia had set the pace, when instead their battle cry should have been “Hurry up and follow our lead.”

Today’s brands can’t afford to make that sort of mistake. They must
watch closely at how technology is changing their business, and take action. If not, many will be left behind—eventually going out of business. Look at Polaroid, for example. What do they stand for? Who knows? I don’t have a clue. The Polaroid brand has become meaningless in the twenty-first century and needs an overhaul—fast. So far, they’ve abandoned their proprietary film technology in 2008 to focus on their sunglasses and LCD technology, along with a line of digital cameras. Recently, Polaroid chose Lady Gaga as their creative director and new face of Polaroid. After years of controversy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and ping-pong ownership, this may be the comeback Polaroid needs.

This is the era of unstable, transient brands.
Those that don’t evolve, adapt, or do
something will die out."

When I first started talking about the Internet at K2 back in 1994, very few people knew what we were talking about. Within a year, everybody wanted a Website...from American Express to IBM to Xerox. But the funny part was, very few consumers were comfortable shopping online back then. A phenomenon was about to happen that would change who would survive the leap into Cyberspace...

As their markets shrank and were redefined, The Sharper Image, Fortunoff, Spiegel, and many other companies couldn’t figure out how to reinvent themselves in a way that would keep potential consumers from tossing their catalogs into the garbage. These companies failed to adapt quickly enough to a changing market because they kept clinging to the past. Internally, they assumed they were leading the market no matter what happened.
Boomers grew up on the brands and considered them solid and trustworthy. What these companies failed to understand, however, was that no such relationship existed with the Internet consumer.

The companies failed to understand that in cyberspace they would have to start fresh and create a new story."

And there you have stay relevant in the 21st Century, you have to keep reinventing your brand for a consumer that keeps moving. Not an easy task.

Thank you again,

Brad Szollose