Posted by: brandextenders | March 28, 2018

The Changing Economy

Cody awakens to the sound of revile on his smartphone (old Army habits die hard), climbs out of his Casper bed with the Boll and Branch sheets and jumps into the shower, shaving with his razor from Dollar Shave Club. He dresses in his new attire from Trunk Club, slips on his TOMS (from the shoe company that gives) and orders a Lyft ride on his phone app. While he waits outside, he books a room for the weekend on Airbnb and checks out The Farmer’s Dog, a healthy dog food company his friend turned him on to. In the evening, Cody, and his girlfriend Emma, cook a Blue Apron dinner, watch the Space X Heavy Falcon launch then binge watch their favorite Netflix show.

changing-economyDepending on your age, this story may be your life or it might be totally disconcerting. What you don’t see are brands that have been household names for decades like Serta, Gillette, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Hilton, Purina, NASA or any of the major networks. The world is changing, rapidly, and with it, many of the brands we’ve known our whole lives are disappearing. Disruption is a favorite word of marketers as they seek to keep or make their brands relevant.

In the past, starting a brand from scratch was prohibitively costly and could take years to find an audience using traditional advertising on TV, radio and in newspapers. In 1977, the three TV networks accounted for 93% of all television viewing making TV ads a costly, but sure-fire way to generate sales. Today, there are one billion websites, five million apps, 224 million social media users and 60% of the population watch Internet videos. For the new nimble and savvy brands, social media is their key to finding and growing an audience, not the “boob tube.”

dollar-shave-club-dubin-blades-ad-01Dollar Shave Club, one of those Jack-Be-Nimble brands, launched its subscription razor service in 2012 on YouTube with the now infamous “Our Blades are F****G Great” video. The ad cost $4,500 to produce and garnered 12,000 customers in the first two days. Compare this to an average: 30-second commercial that costs $350,000 per airing and tens of thousands of dollars to produce.

Companies like Casper (beds), Warby Parker (glasses) and Glossier (beauty essentials) learned early on by using social media (which is free) they could build a brand quickly using a combination of blogs, pictures and video that told their story in a fun, irreverent and honest way.

A look at the Fortune 500 shows how starkly the economy has changed with only 12% of companies from 1955 still on the list today. Big brands are being nibbled to death and many have waited too long to adjust and will disappear, replaced by not one or two, but perhaps a half-dozen smaller brands, each gaining a piece of the overall market left behind. Think Blockbuster, Borders, Sports Authority and Radio Shack vs. Netflix, Amazon, Lululemon and Apple.

So how do we stay relevant in a world where the only constant is change? Here are three ways personal brands and businesses achieve success:

Agility – The ability to move quickly and easily is key to staying relevant in a world that moves faster and faster every day. As an individual, what are you doing to stay competitive? Self-education through reading, taking courses or simply watching YouTube videos is imperative for success. As a company, agility means learning to adapt and not being afraid to revise strategies or processes that become outdated. As Brain Tracy said, “Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.”

Innovation – What if the Wright Brothers, after their first flight in 1903, decided that was the best they could do? Chances are someone else would have picked up where they left off because humans, by nature, are innovative problem-solvers. Failure and innovation go hand-in-hand so as individuals and companies, we must not be afraid to try new things or to risk abject failure to learn what does and doesn’t work. Thomas Edison, who gave us the light bulb after a reported 10,000 attempts, famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” One only needs to look at companies like Blockbuster, Eastman-Kodak or Yahoo to see where a lack of innovation leads.

Speed – Over time, we’ve come to expect almost instant gratification. Snail mail used to take weeks to arrive in the days before mechanization. Now, if a web page doesn’t load within seconds or we can’t get a product we buy online tomorrow, we find a different path. Fads come and go in the blink of an eye (think, fidget spinners) and if you or your company can’t or won’t keep up, your competition will zoom by you at the speed of light. Former race-car driver Mario Andretti summed it up with his comment, “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.”

To stay relevant to today’s consumers, you must stay a step ahead of your competition. Consumers want their brands to be honest and transparent with content that engages and social initiatives that show you care. Millennials, especially, don’t trust traditional advertising, which means the story of your brand, your content on social media, how you engage and what sets you apart must all be aligned. It’s not enough to say you have great customer service or care about your customers, you have to prove it day-in and day-out.

The good news is, according to research by Facebook, 77% of adults, including the vaunted millennials, return to a favorite brand they’ve forged a relationship with time-and-time again. It takes effort and time to stay relevant, but what’s the alternative? The only constant is change and as Dr. Phil said, “If you’re in the front row of the parade and you stop walking, pretty soon you’re back in the tuba section” Stay in front of your parade for a better view of the path ahead.

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