A brand within a timeframe

It is perhaps the ultimate exit strategy – a company with a closing date. This article in the NY Times talks about NPOs such as Malaria No More and Out2Play that have decided their work is done. They’re closing because they have accomplished what they set out to do.

Now imagine doing that with a brand. Setting a date by which you would have achieved set business and social goals along with an agreed return on capital – and ending it there. Too radical? My friend Sam Kebbell set up his architectural practice using that exact premise – a company that would last 50 years. And brand strategist Dan Herman has already successfully proposed just such an idea with his concept of “short-term brands”: brands that focus excitement and buyer loyalty because they are built not to last.

Funny isn’t it how we all acknowledge the pace of change, and how much consumers crave the new, and yet we expect brands to just keep running. Perhaps that’s why they go stale. They need continuing infusions of energy, and as Dr Herman suggests one way to do that is to give them start and end dates, to effectively produce brands that are conceived, brought to market and ultimately concluded as limited editions.

What would you do with your brand if it only had four years to run? You’d make faster decisions, you’d be very, very focused on producing brands with enormous crave factor, you’d look for creative ways to feed that excitement by adding value without adding cost and you’d be very aware of your performance at any given point in time.

Potentially brands could get very short indeed. Pop-up length.

And if you are part of a bigger group, you could even mix up your brand portfolios so that they were set to run and ‘expire’ at different times. 150 year brands, 10 year brands, 3 year brands, 3 week brands … with all the different emotions that such brands could conjure, all reporting to a central story.

Classics and fads … or as Dan Herman puts it, brands as fashion. Chop, chop …

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