If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll get back less than we ever got.
With forgiveness for misquoting one of the more profound truisms of business, the sentiment is true of so many brands we encounter. When sitting down with a client for the first time to talk through the brand challenges they are facing, we are never happier than when they describe their category as a band of traffic lights that ‘never turn green’. It must be a side-product of human nature that sees so many businesses of all sizes continue to do what they have always done even as the weight of evidence grows that they need to be doping something different – cue dinosaur retailers bemoaning the growth in ecommerce as the reason for their struggling bottom line as they beg for government to ban it all rather than looking to the next generation who are building retail brands of every shape and size that are connecting with the new consumer. In Australia Swedish stationery brand kikki.K, cosmetics brand Mecca and fashion brand Blue Illusion are all examples of the next generation of retail visionaries, building hugely successful businesses their way.
So when we’re gathered round the table with a new client describing their competitive landscape where everybody is doing business the same way as each other and the same way as it’s been done for a decade or more, we lick our lips at the potential for disruption. We see a category ripe for the picking. We see an opportunity for our soon to-be-client to establish a brand new way of connecting with consumers, of offering them value, of providing a product or service that truly adds to their lives. This is where strategic thinking leads to brand positioning, leads to product or service innovation, leads to new customers and market leadership.
If you do one thing this month for your business, it must be to get your smartest minds in a room together to discuss when the last time was that your traffic light turned green.