Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Is Your Brand Still Relevant?

When talking about brands, brand managers often mention relevant differentiation but a less talked about topic is brand relevance. What happens when your brand is no longer relevant to its target customers? What happens when it is decreasingly relevant to any customer? What are the signs that your brand is losing relevance?

If you are a typewriter brand, what is your relevance in the age of laptop computers, tablets and even smart phones? If you are a photographic film brand, what is your relevance in the age of digital cameras? How relevant was the Blockbuster brand after the emergence of Netflix or Amazon Prime? If you are a taxicab brand, what is your relevance in the age of Uber and Lyft?

But one doesn't even need to go as far as brands that have been the victims of completely disruptive technologies. About ten years ago, I conducted a series of workshops for library administrators from a wide variety of academic, private and public libraries, helping them not only to think about their brands' missions but also about what they intend to be to thrive well into the twenty-first century. Similar thinking is happening (or needs to happen) for shopping malls, brick and mortar retailers, metropolitan areas, city centers, medical practices, museums and universities. 

What was relevant twenty or thirty years ago, or even ten years ago, is no longer relevant today. People expect entertainment, engagement, sound bytes, ease of use, remote access and even a shared set of values. Things are just changing too fast. The Internet, AI, robotics, big data analytics, 3D printers, alternative energy sources and the like are changing people's expectations and how they interact with the world. They expect lower cost, being able to order from their smart phones, on-demand use, instantaneous delivery, home delivery, entertainment, education, engagement, cross-channel integrated customer databases and customer-centric service.

So, is your brand and its business model still relevant? Or do you have some work to do to insure its long-term, and possibly even near-term, viability?