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The Mass Middle of the Market is Muddling its Way Into the Future

The village of Tupper Lake, NY, in the Adirondack Park has a population hovering just under 6000. In the short summer season tourists and second-home owners boost that number. Recently, there has been a seasonal gentrification with the opening of two craft breweries, but it is basically a struggling place to live. Tupper Lake is a small town 130 miles southeast of Montreal, Quebec, and 89 miles south of Cornwall, Ontario. In Tupper Lake, there is a Dollar General, a Save-A-Lot, a Family Dollar, and a Day Wholesale.

Read the rest of Larry Light’s latest LinkedIn piece here.

Read Larry Light’s Latest Forbes Piece “I’m Ford And I’m Proud”

From the piece: “Ford Motors Company is under a microscope these days. James Hackett, CEO, is continually being scrutinized. Wall Street finds his Ford vision and strategy inscrutable. So, in order to make itself clear, last October Ford introduced a new campaign. The message is “Built Ford Proud”. It is a self-praise message highlighting Ford’s 115-year history of commitment to building great vehicles and communicates Ford’s ambition to lead in the future through smart vehicles for a smart world.”

Read the rest here: I’m Ford And I’m Proud

NEW RULE FOR BRAND ORGANIZATIONS

The phrase “Be a runway, not a control tower” popped up a few of years ago in a Singapore newspaper. The phrase is a great way to put a frequent brand organization occurrence: the resistance to change.

For brands to be successful in the ongoing challenge to remain contemporary, the idea is not to oppose change but to drive it.  Change happens all the time. Today it is almost impossible to keep aware of everything that changes around your brand. The digital advertising business has to deal with technologies, devices, and apps that change so much faster than people adopt and adapt.

Yet, opposition to change happens. Employees may fear how change will alter their jobs. They may think that what has been the current methods of operation should continue to be the standard operating procedure. Or, they are very happy and complacent and see no need to change.

Change initiatives usually come with a detailed program, an HR course, a set of slides, a video, a script, an app, a dictionary, a metric (or series of metrics), out of-office seminars, and in many cases a slew of young, junior consultants who take up a lot of office space. For many brands with change in leadership there is also a change initiative: new person, new ideas.

A brand’s culture sometimes can be the control tower keeping everyone on course, and focusing on avoiding any and all risk. Brands flourish in supportive organizational cultures. If the organization is risk averse or closed to change, it creates an inflexible and relevancy-resistant environment.

Brands must stay relevant. This requires change. Continuing to do the same old things when the world is dynamic is a formula for failure. The biggest challenge that brands face is ensuring that brand teams are open to change, and that the organizational environment is conducive to change. In organizations undergoing change, for that change to be genuine and not superficial, cultural change initiatives must be consistently reinforced, widely communicated, supported from the top of the organization, and realistic for the organization’s current situation.

Brands are dynamic, active promises about what they will do for the customer. Brands do not do well where the control tower effect is in place. Brands need continuous renewal. Brand teams must be aware and alert to marketplace changes and anticipatory ideas for satisfying customer needs. With too much control tower, without the continuous renewal of innovation or renovation, a brand will stagnate. The business will stagnate. Enduring profitable growth requires building a continuous renewal cycle.

When there is a misalignment and conflict between the brand strategy and the brand culture, the culture prevails over the strategy. Culture always wins. Brands need supportive, flexible cultures. If the culture is inactive and risk averse, in other words, a control tower closed to change, the misalignment is serious.

Brands need the runway. But, this does not mean there are no brand boundaries. Every runway is a well-defined pathway. Skidding off the runway is no good. Taxiing outside the boundaries of the runway is dangerous. Staying within the lane but being able to have change take flight is in a brand’s best interests.