BRANDS BUILT FOR NOW AND BUILT TO LAST

In 1994, when Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras wrote Built to Last, they were referring to Visionary Habits of Successful Companies. Their highly influential book focused on the results of a six-year research project into what makes enduringly great companies. Their stated goals were: “to identify underlying characteristics are common to highly visionary companies” and “to effectively communicate findings so they can influence management”.

Companies that endure are iconic; they are studied; they are analyzed; and they are held up as examples of best practices that other businesses should exemplify. The same is true for brands. GE, IBM, Kodak and Xerox are examples of brands that now realize longevity is not necessarily a prerequisite for future success.

We live in a time when replacing goods and services is par for the course. We seem to have no qualms about ditching an old iPhone for a new model, or downloading the latest app, or frequenting the newest restaurant. In fashion, we have fast fashion that by its very nature is meant to be disposable. In automotive, ownership is starting to decline in favor of renting or subscribing: “Why keep something around when I can have the newest model whenever I want?”

With the exception of some durable goods products such as large appliances, there seems to be a reluctance to buy goods and services that are built to last. We appear to prefer obsolescence to endurance. Some brands such as Patagonia have urged customers to keep wearing their old Patagonia clothes rather than buy new ones. But, even in luxury goods, where holding on to a satchel or pair of shoes as the value increases, there are websites where owners can sell these possessions to make a quick buck.

So, it is a surprise that in a past report from The Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything”, we were told to hold on to possessions, some of which are so much better with age. We learned that owning these goods for the long term will enhance our future: we were asked to buy something that “is destined for an estate sale rather than a landfill.” Products identified as “keepers” were luggage, boots, watches and classic home goods. The “The Future of Everything” article reflected one of the major paradoxes of our age: the desire (and hence clash of) for replaceable and irreplaceable.

“The latest and the legacy” is a unique paradox reflecting the wish for innovation/novelty and the need for things that have stood the tests of time. Technology has accelerated the pace of new products and services. We are used to replacing phones, laptops and other digital, smart, mobile devices and connected appliances with new versions on a regular basis. We fear missing the immediate ownership of the latest. People around the world will wait on line, overnight, regardless of weather, just to buy the newest Apple device.

And, yet, at the same time, we seek the authenticity, heritage, customs and legacies of products and service steeped in tradition.  Etsy, the online craft forum, is a paean to crocheted medallion quilts, handmade dangling earrings, knitted Argyle socks, and all sorts of imaginative, high quality craftsmanship. Vintage clothing stores sell authentic outfits from our parents’ and grandparents’ decades. Millennials are buying vintage sound systems to play LPs (even though they are also streaming music from Spotify). The Future of Everything referred to these types of enduring products as “heirloom” just like the tomato seeds sold in those various seed catalogues: those cultivars from gardens of the past, not like those used in today’s industrial agriculture.

Photo by Milad B. Fakurian on Unsplash

Brands have an opportunity to capitalize on the conflicting needs of being in the “now” with living with the “then”.  In the liquor category, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are establishing their heritage credibility for a modern group of drinkers. KFC is currently making a remarkable comeback by focusing on their traditional, iconic mealtime buckets of chicken.  The familiar, timeless Colonel, and his values are back, but in a timely, humorous, contemporary manner. There is something compelling about revisiting a relevant, repackaged icon right now. Levi’s invented blue jeans. It has an amazing heritage. On its website, the brand confirms its history and its modernity, by being both now and then. Their statement is that Levi’s® Made & Crafted® builds on the legacy of 140 years “by designing tomorrow’s classics using today’s best materials and construction techniques.”

Brands in and of themselves are all about the future. Brands promise a relevant, differentiated trustworthy experience: buy this brand and you will get this experience. More than ever, brands have the opportunity to address our needs for the both the latest and the legacy: brands that are built for now and built to last. In our time-crazed world of now, it is nice to know that there are brands we can hold onto for time to come.

Larry Light in Forbes CMO Network

Larry Light shares insights to help be a beacon of light for brands struggling in a ever changing world dominated by a global pandemic.

Read some of his latest pieces now by clicking on the titles below!

Retail’s New Approach To Saving Retail: Store-As-Showcase

Retailers see small-format stores as the future of retail. Target led the way with small-format stores. Amazon 4-Star stores sell items curated from customers’ ratings, reviews, and sales data. This retail future makes it easy to choose, easy to use, and provides ease of mind.

How Marketing Can Change American Minds About A Covid-19 Vaccine

Trust in government is at all-time low. Many people will decline to take the vaccine. Their minds are already decided. How can their minds be changed?

2021: The Year Of Living Actually And Artificially

Two conflicting trends are shaping the new normal. One trend is our desire for actual products that provide comfort, coziness, conviviality, and contentment. The other trend is our desire for products and services using artificial intelligence and/or virtual reality. 

Demography Is Destiny: The Marketing Challenges Of Pandemic Demography

Covid-19 is changing the demographics of our nation. Coronavirus has decreased the U.S. birth rate while increasing the U.S. death rate. Brands must address this new future of who will be the customers for products and services. 


Looking for a gift for your marketing peers?

Check out our collection of books by Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They make a perfect unexpected gift for the marketing leader in your life.

See the collection here.


Cover Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Larry Light: Brand Insights on Pandemic Impacts & More

Take These Actions Now Or Lose Your New Customers Post-Pandemic

Packaged goods food companies are performing beyond expectations. Will this sales lift last into the future? For enduring profitable growth, brands must not only build their quantity of sales but the quality of their sales. Here are four actions to help the fortunate sales lift endure post-pandemic.

Personalization Will Change Your Car Dealership Experience Forever

Hyper-personalizing the car purchase experience will be a path to auto dealer success. Personalization is about making the customer feel special. Hyper-personalization is focusing on an audience of one for each and every customer, each and every day.

Harley-Davidson: Adore Your Core

A turnaround strategy is different from a growth strategy. When a brand is in trouble, the priority is to stop the hemorrhaging of the customer base. CEO, Jochen Zeitz is making a radical strategic shift to put Harley-Davidson back on the road to enduring profitable growth.

Coronavirus Spurs Brand Innovation

As a result of the Covid crisis, there are a lot of innovative ideas being tested in the restaurant industry to keep businesses alive. For example, many restaurant brands now provide meal boxes that offer more than just meals – they are cooking lessons.

Guitar, Pet, Bicycle: Our Need For Therapeutic Experiences

Home-based therapy experiences that help us feel better are the new normal. Loving a pet overcomes loneliness, which has been exacerbated by being stuck at home, away from friends and sometimes away from family. Financial Times calls this feeling “lockdown loneliness.”

Environmental Decency Makes Money

Sustainable leadership and business practices influence customers’ brand decisions. In today’s environment, data show that environmental decency “significantly impacts” brand preference and purchase.

The Coronavirus Is Forcing Brands To Change

Arcature CEO Larry Light has recognized some serious implications resulting from the global pandemic and its impact on consumers, from how they work, eat, live and think. Brands, some of which are too big to react effectively, are struggling to keep up with these societal changes.

Read some of Larry’s latest pieces in Forbes on the epic impact Covid19 is having on the marketing world:

The New Age Of I: Isolation And Inclusivity

Read Now

The Great Brand Reset: Coronavirus Leads To Fewer Brand Choices

Read Now

The Four Rules Of FACE: The Future For Hotels

Read Now

Delivery, Drive-thru And Distance: Welcome To The New Disconnect

Read Now

Old Is New, Denied Distinctiveness & More: The Latest from Larry Light’s Forbes.com Column

Larry Light sheds light on interesting marketing and branding news in his Forbes column on a weekly basis. Below is a roundup of some of his latest insights. Read them now!

https://www.forbes.com/sites/larrylight/2020/08/31/old-is-new-erewhon-the-whole-earth-catalog-loop-and-blueland/#1a13769571e9″ target=”_blank”>Old Is New: Erewhon, The Whole Earth Catalog, Loop And Blueland

In 1966, a year before the Summer of Love and two years before the original Woodstock, two gurus of the macrobiotic lifestyle, followers of the great George Ohsawa, opened a health food store called Erewhon. Erewhon is meant the title to be understood as the word “nowhere” backward even though the letters “h” and “w” are transposed. It came from the Samuel Butler book about a utopia. One of the fictional Erewhon’s tenets was that everyone was responsible for their own health and wellbeing.

Read more.

Land Rover And The Case Of Defender’s Denied Distinctiveness

In January of 2016, after 67 years, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), owned by Indian company Tata, ended production of the iconic and beloved Land Rover Defender four-wheel drive vehicle. The first Defender, aka Land Rover Series, began sales in 1949 post-war Britain. The intended use was for agricultural purposes. The design was similar to the WWII Willy’s Jeep (manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors). Over the course of its 67-year history, Land Rover Series and Defender vehicles reportedly sold just over two million vehicles. As a point of interest, at its 1949 debut, the Land Rover Series was the first four-wheel drive, mass-produced civilian car with doors.

Read more.

Home Depot, Alexa And The Paradox Of Do-It-Yourself

In a world of meal-kits, parking assist vehicles, wearable heart monitors, voice-recognition devices, connected homes, networked transportation services, farmers’ markets, delivery of practically everything, Bluetooth, and Task Rabbit employees who assemble your IKEA purchases, what does “do-it-yourself” mean?

Read more.

Nextdoor, Brands And The Need For Neighborhood

Neighborhood is more than a geographic descriptor. Neighborhood is a mindset… an amalgam of attitudes and behaviors. Whether it is Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, or the Cheers bar neighborhood is a powerful force. Financial Times once described a New York City, Upper Westside neighborhood toy store that had lasted beyond the demise of KB toys, FAO Schwartz, and Toys R’ Us. The store lasted because their neighbors owned the store and their neighbors worked in the store.

Read more.

SpaceX, The Pursuit Of Quality And The Law Of The Diagonal

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of “making humanity multi-planetary.” SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft.

Read more.

Marketing Industry Insights From Larry Light

We’ve rounded up some of Larry Light’s recent contributions to his Forbes column. Read a short blurb below and continue on the the articles to read more.

Ford CEO Retires: Unable To Articulate A Clear And Consistent Vision

It just took three years. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett is retiring. In May 2017, Ford hired Jim Hackett to be CEO. Mr. Hackett had been CEO of Steelcase, the office furniture company. While at Steelcase, Mr. Hackett joined Ford’s Board of Directors. Mr. Hackett oversaw Ford’s Smart Mobility unit.

Read more.

Levi Strauss And Its Good-Better-Best Strategy

Levi Strauss, the 167-year-old blue jeans company, is fast-tracking its brand-business strategy to address our changing retail habits. The venerable brand has a great deal of incentive to do so, as many retail establishments are struggling or are facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Levi Strauss has several plans that focus on how we will be shopping from now on into the future. 

Read more.

Coca-Cola’s Brand-Business Rationalization

An unfortunate business outcome of coronavirus is the disappearance of some of our favorite big brands due to bankruptcy. Another outcome is the deliberate, disciplined disappearing of small or local/regional brands or single country brands.

Read more.

Keep Nespresso’s Vision Alive

There is a very interesting story from The Guardian about Nespresso, Nestlé’s espresso machine with its colorful, elegant foil coffee capsules. The detailed article tracks Nespresso’s history from its innovative origin to its current situation that is described as “trundling on” without the sophisticated swagger of its early days.

Read more.

Larry Light Dials In On Domino’s Success in 2020

In Larry’s latest piece in Forbes, Domino’s Six ‘Can-Do’ Actions Lead To Increased Sales, he lays out the 6 critical actions to Domino’s 2020 success.

Read his latest thoughts now, here.

Larry Light’s Forbes.com Column Roundup

Larry Light’s latest pieces in Forbes have collectively been read by over 54,780 readers. They cover an array of marketing topics including the impacts of Covid-19, Ease of Choice, and more.

See his latest headlines below.

Macy’s And The 100th Anniversary Of The 19th Amendment

At this 100-year anniversary for women’s right to vote, we should be respecting brands that stood up for women, especially working women Macy’s is one of those brands.

Six Rules To Plan Now For The Post-Coronavirus World

When the economy starts up post-coronavirus, many brands will need to be reenergized. How to plan now for post-coronavirus revitalization?

What’s Next For The Whole Foods Market Brand?

Amazon is focused on building Whole Foods Market into a trusted source for organic, healthful, eco-conscious, ethically-sourced offerings with a reputation for quality, leadership, and trust. The singular desire is to build loyalty to Whole Foods Market rather than sharing it with the “365” brand.

In This Complicated Uncertain World Ease Of Choice Wins

Right now, why add more uncertainty to our lives by selecting an unknown or new brand? This is not a time for new brands. It is a good time to build on the strength of brand familiarity and trust.

After The Quarantines, We May All Sell And Buy Used Cars The Carvana Way

Carvana is turning the used car business on its head and in doing so has the potential to utterly change the way car dealers do business. As with Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, Amazon that forced established brands to change, Carvana is causing a sea change in one of the most ubiquitous industries in the US.

The Latest From Larry Light In Forbes CMO Network

Read the latest from Larry Light’s column on the Forbes CMO Network:

Five Phases For Effective Brand Design

Brand experiences are not positioned, they are designed. A Brand Design Process has 5 phases, all linked around customer insight and communicated through effective marketing. Think of this process as the circle of brand life.

The 8 P’s Of The CVS Plan To Win

CVS, the retail pharmacy-healthcare chain that also owns Aetna insurance, created a platform for progress with the goal of taking a prominent position providing continuing health care to communities.

Speak Up, Don’t Give Up

In this coronavirus world, many brands are halting ad campaigns in lieu of figuring out what to say to us. Now is not the time for familiar brands to lose their voice. These brands should stand up for what they stand for.

Five Critical Elements Of A Compelling And Enduring Brand Vision

A brand-business vision defines the common direction for all actions on behalf of the enterprise. Without a defined direction, a brand can lose its way. As a powerful vision guides the business through good times and bad times. A powerful vision frames the present and creates the future.

Larry Light Leads the Brand/Covid19 Discussion on Forbes.com

Arcature CEO Larry Light is using his platform on Forbes CMO Network to lead the discussion on how brands must react accordingly to the Covid19 pandemic and use their platform for good.

His three latest pieces are all tied to global pandemic. Read them by clicking the links below:

The Advertising Industry Must Act Now To Help Combat The Coronavirus

Four Marketing Actions For Navigating In Troubled Times

The Three Dimensions Of Ease Are Crucial For Brand Survival Now