Remember when you used to get DVDs in the mail from Netflix? That seems like a long time ago doesn’t it? But that model wasn’t going to work in the age of streaming content, so Netflix jumped with both feet into a monthly service plan to provide just that.
For most businesses, that would probably have been enough. But not if you want to stay competitive. At the Golden Globes last month, Netflix and HBO both had competing parties at the same hotel in LA. You might think, really? HBO has all kinds of award-winning original programming. But now Netflix is knocking on the door with its first Golden Globe for ‘House of Cards’.
So not only did Netflix change their business model twice, they also decided to go all-in with an expensive, well-produced series featuring marquis-level stars. On top of that, they changed the game by allowing viewers to watch the entire season whenever they want to. If you have the time, you can binge on every episode in one night. How’s that for giving the power to the customer?
But the pentultimate shape-shifting brand today has got to be Amazon. It’s easy to forget this began as a book selling business. But now the company readily admits that was just a way to develop a large customer base, and to acquire a ton of data about those customers. Today it’s harder to find something that Amazon doesn’t sell than to describe what they in fact provide.
The bottom line is that adapt or perish has never been more true. A few years ago we focused on social marketing, because that’s where all the buzz was. But then, hundreds of other businesses began to offer all kinds of social media services, and the field became far too cluttered. It became extremely difficult to establish a differentiated value proposition, so we switched back to our core strength of brand positioning, strategy and innovative integrated marketing tactics.
The flip side is that some mega-brands have never been very successful making the transition. Sony used to be king of both the Walkman and the Trinitron television. Today, it’s hard to say what the brand stands for. HP is another case in point. Both Coke and Pepsi are struggling in a world that is moving toward healthier lifestyles and diets.
Today the difference between successful brands and those that lag behind or perish is the ability to transition from a past model into something that is much better suited for today. It’s never easy, and the going can get tough. But there really isn’t much choice. Change is the only constant. Unless that’s true for your business, it’s impossible to stay on top.