Transformation isn’t about plotting a meeting point for your brand with the predicted future. It’s not about getting to where the puck will be, to paraphrase Wayne Gretsky. Because depending on the arrival of the next big thing or that breaking wave, that hot new trend, the long-awaited demographic or anything else for that matter is conjecture. Banking on it is simply speculation.
To evolve successfully, brands must grow out of what they have into what they need to be. They cannot shape the future. They can only shape their future.
That is what they have control of. That is what they are responsible for. The customers they take with them into the future. The actions they drive in the future. The products they will make. The culture they build for the future.
All strategists and decision makers can and should read out of the macro-trends, and even the supposedly “specific” future trends for that matter, are the broad indicators of the change that’s coming and perhaps a sense of where it might be coming from. Nothing more – certainly not the exact nature and timing of that change.
But what brands can do, indeed must do, is use what they’re hearing and what their data is telling them to quantify what must be dealt with today: the instability of the present; the intensity of the competition; the changes in the world that they want to take charge of; and the degree to which they may be able to build on, or reject, what they have as they push forward. Being aware of those things will help quantify receptivity for what they have planned.
Deal with what you know, but look beyond what you have.
Photo of Barometer by Matt Wharton (electricinca), sourced from Flickr