Don’t get me wrong. Change is a good thing. We learn things from change. We discover new opportunities, new knowledge, new ways of thinking. Through change, we gain experience and wisdom. And, anyway, change is inevitable, unstoppable. You can never step into the same river twice, so the Buddhist saying goes. So change is not to be avoided but embraced. To live a rich and rewarding life, we need to develop a healthy enthusiasm for change and all the life experiences it will bring. Having said that, in business, change must be approached and managed carefully because, to brands, change is kryptonite. There are three kinds of change that can weaken or destroy an otherwise healthy brand. The owner or manager of any brand asset must be on guard against them at all times.
A couple of years back, mega-conglomerate Nestlé issued strict new guidelines to all their producers of animal products. The new rules were meant to ensure the ethical treatment of any animal destined to eventually wind up in a Nestlé product. The edict affected thousands of farmers around the world who all had to adopt more humane agricultural practices. The ripple effects reached far beyond just the Nestlé suppliers. About the same time, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus retired its elephant act. And, shortly thereafter, SeaWorld retired its orca act and vowed never to take another one into captivity. These are all examples of brands in evolution, brands that changed business models not because management suddenly joined Peta; but because their markets forced the issue.
From all accounts, the job market in the US has been booming for the last couple of years or so. Last week, the government released numbers showing the unemployment rate dropped to 4.5 percent, lower than it’s been for a long time. Sure, there are still many who are unemployed, underemployed or misemployed. But, statistically speaking, we are as close to full employment as we’ve ever been in this country. That means employers are struggling to find qualified talent to fill specific roles within their companies. They are competing for talent in the same way they’re competing for consumers of their goods and services. And, in the same way a strong brand attracts the right consumer, it also attracts the right employee.
I recently had the great pleasure of discovering a blog called 25iq.com, published by Tren Griffin. The blog covers business, investing, technology and more, and it is well worth a visit. One of Griffin’s recent posts is entitled: “A Dozen Lessons About Product/Market Fit”, or PMF. As I was reading, it became clear to me that PMF is very similar to, if not exactly the same as, brand positioning. I found the fourth of the 12 lessons to be particularly engaging. In it, Griffin quotes renowned entrepreneur, Marc Andreeson: “You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of ‘blah’, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.”
The end is in sight! We’ve reached the last leg of our four-part series on self-branding, offered in response to requests from small business owners and solopreneurs for a step-by-step guide to building a strong brand. If this subject is of interest to you, please START at the beginning. It’s important that you complete all the steps and in the correct order. If you’ve followed along through Parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series, congratulations. You’re now very close to establishing a powerhouse brand. It’s all downhill from here. Let’s complete the journey.
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Best Branding Reads
Week of April 24, 2017
Infographic: What Consumers Really Think About Cause Marketing
Surprise, surprise. Boomers and Millennials can’t agree.
5 Common Brand Mistakes (And How To Recover From Them)
Every owner/manager of a brand asset should read this.
The Zinger Bringer: 5 Questions With KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman
The remarkable resurgence of the Colonel and KFC
What Airbnb Has Discovered About Building A Lasting Brand
They found 5 common characteristics of iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Disney.
New Logo and Identity for Sydney School of Entrepreneurship
Interesting that they didn’t just animate their logo. They made animation a feature of their logo.
New Logo for Mapbox
Agree with the author the light blue on the astronaut’s body is weird. But, overall, a very nice job.
How To Keep Your Brand Successful
Step 1: Become successful. Seriously, this is an important read.