ET BrandEquity.com brings the twenty-sixth part of the weekly series of Strategygrams.
This week’s Strategygram titled ‘It’s Renew or New’ is part of the series created by Sattar Khan, a brand strategy consultant. Each Strategygram condenses one strategic thought into one image. The collectible series is a visual guide to strategic thinking and provides handy image prompts for your brand strategy workouts.
“Innovation! One cannot be forever innovating,” said Coco Chanel. “I want to create classics.”
Oh, if only that were possible for all brands!
Consumer needs are perennial, but consumer preferences aren’t. To woo consumers, a brand is always challenged to be memorably relevant and competitively desirable. If it doesn’t renew itself, it must yield to the new. That’s the law of the brand jungle.
“The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented it cannot be improved,” felt Umberto Eco. “You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon.” But not everybody would agree—ask ebook marketers, wheel tire manufacturers, and spoon merchandisers.
Small differences, perhaps; but for some, big enough.
When you examine the brandscape, you see brands acting in accordance with the Law of Renew or New. You see an ecommerce brand boosting its core functionality by cutting delivery times; You see a smartphone emphasizing a new product vector by elevating privacy protection; You see an air-conditioner delivering multi-functionality by adding a mosquito repellant feature; you see a brand of sneakers and a smart watch collaborating to co-create functionality by streaming fitness tracking data; you see an aggregator for home-stays upending hotels with experience innovation by creating a new business model.
What drives this renewal? The desire to delight and deliver. Sometimes the renewal is performative and sometimes perceptual; Sometimes it is propelled by what the product does for the purchaser and sometimes what it does for the provider.
That has always been so.
For instance, steamships replaced sailing ships because steamships don’t require favorable winds, because inclement weather doesn’t faze them, and because it takes five years to train a sailor to manage sails and only five days to train a bloke to shovel coal.
Or take the postal service—that ancestral way to connect with people far away— which has seen competitors ranging from Internet telephony to courier companies shrink its domain to handwritten greeting cards, bulk mail, and low-cost parcels.
And yet, we also witness age-old brands renewing themselves in terms of who they are for, what their use is, and how they resonate.
For example, a world-famous, over-a-century-old brand of cola beverage stays contemporary by continuously updating its design and communication language, and exploring new consumer-connection channels.
Or consider the jacuzzi, which began life as a bathing solution for arthritics, but is now ubiquitous the world over as a relaxing, hydro jet-stream spa.
What are these brands signaling to consumers? You can upgrade to a better version of yourself, progress from Me Now to Better Me.
A consumer decides to stay with an old solution or shift to a new one, depending on which of two countervailing combinations is weightier: on one side is the disappointment with the old and the dream of the new, and, on the flip side, is the deep-rooted relationship with the old and the doubts about the new. Depending on which combination weighs more, the balance tips in favor of staying or switching.
Of course, that subjective decision subsumes several considerations: the situation in which the consumer purchases or uses; the substitutes available to her; the snags she encounters in getting access, giving time and effort, gaining the requisite skill to use the brand; the sacrifice of benefits she suffers in trade-offs; the spending she incurs; and the success criteria against which she will assess the solution’s outcome.
For the consumer, it all comes down to how much the brand experience is pleasurable And how much the desired end effect is probable. Those two aspects are like the twin blades of a pair of scissors that snip the bonds of old loyalty or cut the ribbon for new loyalty.
A brand that competes for customers—when does its war of renewal end? Never. As that old Japanese proverb advises: “After winning the battle, tighten your helmet.”
Check the first twenty-five Strategygrams: ‘Speed Kills’, ‘Half Bridges Don’t Work’, ‘No Contest’, ‘The Silent Clue’, ‘Who’s For Lunch?’, ‘Competition Is A Monster’, ‘The Distinctive Sells The Difference’, ‘Strategy As Story’, ‘Timing Beats Speed’, ‘Conquering Fort Customer’, ‘How Are You Different?’, ‘The Villain and The Hero Inside’, ‘Galileo’s Discovery’, ‘The Strategic Logic Chain’ ‘, ‘The Brand Experience Trio’, ‘Deer in the Headlights’, ‘Do the math’, ‘An insight is like a tram car’, ‘The leap of insights and ideas’, ‘The Three Monkeys of Strategy’, ‘ The Breakthrough is in the Question’, The tango of problem solving, ‘Getting to Simplicity’, ‘Head on a Platter’ and ‘The Slippery Slope of Good Enough’.
– Sattar Khan can be reached at email@example.com.