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Brand Management

The Life Span Of Brands

by

Brand Strategy Kodak George Eastman Thomas Edison

Like people, brands don’t live forever.* They’re born into the marketplace, grow and become successful, then iconic, and then stale as week old bread. 

The driver underpinning all these phases is unrelenting and rapid change. Seemingly, the forces driving our global economy are getting harder for brand owners to keep up with. Brands are dynamic. Brands have their cycles and they run their course. What’s difficult for brand owners and managers to grasp is when to continue to invest precious capital into a tired under-performing brand or move on.

This is particularly true if the brand was once a leader in the market. Market success always creates size, power, and breeds a false sense of security (think arrogance). Over time, this creates an unrealistic view of the marketplace reality, and a lack of urgency to correct course in maintaining relevancy among consumers the brand serves. In the US, both Sears and Kodak are stunning, real-time examples of this dynamic. (Kodak founder George Eastman pictured on the left)

Danger lurks when brand owners and managers of iconic brands become inwardly focused and miss new opportunities or competitive threats. Complacency by brand owners becomes the norm, and endless advertising messages, brand extensions, and ultimately commoditization blur the brand’s compelling meaning in the minds of consumers.

Often, the key to lasting brand success — longer brand life spans is an internal push to evolve and repel complacency. Leaving weaker brands and their brand managers to fade away and take their rightful place in brand history.

*Unless they continue to meet human needs, the ultimate reason for a brands’ existence

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