Woolworths, HMV, Ratners, PanAm, Blockbuster, Comet …
Big name brands that suddenly disappeared from our lives in recent years (OK PanAm and Ratner weren’t that recent!). How does a strong, in some cases global brand suddenly die? The answer invariably is that they don’t. Not that they don’t die, just that it isn’t sudden.
Externally, they may appear unchanged, but on the inside small changes are happening all the time, customers not being treated with quite the same level of care; costs being shaved on the assumption that no-one will notice; employees rewards being pegged back without thinking that it will have any impact on the quality of the work they do and the commitment to ‘go the extra mile’; sales target achieved by squeezing customers to buy something they didn’t really need. These and lots more similar minor tweaks whilst insignificant on their own add up and weaken the core of the brand and ‘suddenly’ it all falls apart.
It didn’t happen suddenly, it’s just that most people noticed it suddenly.
The irony is that when the brand owner notices that the customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders have noticed, it’s often too late to fix it.
It works the same way in reverse – the overnight success isn’t usually an overnight success, it’s just that the cumulative effect of getting right all those tiny pieces reaches what Malcolm Gladwell would call The Tipping Point and everyone is talking about the brand, buying the brand and coming back to buy it again.
I have blogged before about the perils of searching for the marketing ‘silver bullet’, the one activity that alone will transform the fortunes of a business, and ‘sudden’ success falls into the same category. If you fancy emulating an overnight success, I suggest you dig beneath the surface and you will find years of consistent and gradual improvements that hardly anyone noticed. This is the lesson we all need to learn from; striving every day to make small improvements that will one day deliver big results. The good news is that we don’t need to be a genius or lucky – every one of us can do this!