Every organization that has been around for a while should ask themselves frequently one simple question:
"Are we old?"
I don't mean old in quantitative years. But, "old" in terms of a brand, an idea, a mindset.
It should be an honest question and, more importantly, you should strive to get this answered candidly by the people who know you and your category the best - your customers, your clients and your strategic partners.
It's a critical question - especially in this day and age of rapid improvement and transformation.
I think we all understand that "old" in the branding world is not good. Yes, "old" is the attack zone where "new" entries come in.
Case in point. Look what is happening in the mattress world.
Old, venerable mattress brands - Serta, Sealy, Simmons, Sleep Number (do you have to start with "S" to be in this category?) - are having a rude awakening.
They've been "outflanked" by someone thinking "new" while they try and hold onto "old".
Everything about Casper is new. The name (kind of fun, and it doesn't begin with "S".). The imagery (fresh, simple, and inviting - almost "Apple-like"). And, the idea (One mattress. One price point. Simple order and delivery. Easy returns.).
They are growing like gangbusters.
One of Time magazine's 25 Best Inventions of 2015. Big Innovation Award 2016. Check out the Inc Magazine article "How this Mattress Startup Made $20 Million in 10 Months."
Wow. New thinking paying off big time.
Was there anything simple about the process of getting a mattress the old way? Multiple products where you had to make a fool of yourself as you and your partner laid down on various mattresses in the store while some clerk hovered above you. Numerous models at various price levels (mostly high) for differences that were hard to detect. And, finally, expensive delivery options where moving brut entered your house with this huge object and you're screaming "watch out for the light, " "please don't break the bannister" .....
As stated in a recent blog post on Lingo: "Market studies suggest that today's new generation of consumers are less wooed by brands themselves than they are by the ideas surrounding the brand."
The new "idea" here is that Casper is a lifestyle brand that fits into today's younger folks lifestyle.
A simple story - "Our award-winning mattress is so perfect we only made one."
A "new" idea that is quickly vanquishing the "old" stalwarts in the mattress industry.
With the new idea leading, the brand work can serve as a strong reinforcement of that idea. And, Casper does this beautifully.
Check out the Casper website (www.casper.com). Everything about the brand reinforces the strategic positioning of the company - fun, simple, innovative. The brand look, voice and message - all in line. (As we say here at Big River - "everything matters" when conveying your brand. Casper gets that.) Text book example of awesome strategic branding.
This idea of positioning oneself as "new" - and, thus, without saying anything, the other guys are "old" - is a well utilized marketing/ branding strategy that goes back a while.
Think Apple and IBM. Think Starbucks and Maxwell House. Think Jet Blue and most every other airline.
When I was working on the Pepsi account at BBDO - our brilliant branding leaders had one simple overall brand strategy for us all to follow - "Pepsi is for the young" (Conversely, Coke is old). Everything we did followed that strategy. And, when Coke decided to change its formula in 1983 - that was a defining moment as it served as proof that this "young vs. old" business branding strategy had certainly worked. In recognition of this milestone event, Pepsi closed all their offices for a day to celebrate our "young vs. old" victory.
So, look at your company - your organization - and really ask yourselves, your customers and clients, and your partners - "are we old?" If so, it certainly may be time for some brand/culture re-alignment and fresh thinking before the wolves come in.
As Winston Churchill said: "To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often."