Stale is Bad for Business.


Can brands get stale? B-school professors will tell you companies go through maturation stages: growth, mature, harvest. Investment spending is heaviest during the growth period while milking profits and low investment occurs in the harvest period. Mature is the middle period where all the hard decisions are made. Mature is where real money happens and success is fickle. This is the period where brands can get stale.

(First off, let me acknowledge that brands aren’t companies and companies aren’t brands. Though sometimes they are. IBM is a company and also a brand. P&G is a company but not a brand. It’s complicated.) For this discussion let’s just say B2B companies are brands.

I’m a big proponent of a brand strategy: Once claim and three proof planks. This framework provides an organizing principle for product, experience and messaging. It works for tooth whitener, wholesale fish purveyors and billion dollar healthcare systems. Unlike a tagline, graphics style manual and ad campaign (the drivers of most brands), a brand strategy allows for freshness and flexibility. And it works in all the life stages of a brand. A brand strategy provides business winning strategy directives. It fights staleness when in the hands of smart brand managers.

Brands can get stale. Business executives become most sensitive to it when sales are down. When the campaign becomes too familiar. If business fundies are without flaw, e.g., headcount, distribution, pricing, then I always suggest getting the brand strategy right. It’s how businesses and brands flourish. Peace.