Brand Alive

March 15, 2012

It seems like so many traditional brands are going through it – from Borders to Kodak to Sears.  While it may seem unthinkable to even imagine a world without certain brands or products, it’s a creeping reality that certain famous names will become extinct in the coming years – or months.

This puts brand managers and CEOs in a difficult and challenging position as they attempt to redefine and sometimes reinvent their companies – and in some cases, their categories.

A recent article in Forbes by Allen Adamson (author of BrandSimple and BrandDigital) focused on what bookseller Barnes & Noble might strategically do to solve its mega-problems in a world where eReaders (and tablets) are taking over the space.  Here’s his take:

“What Barnes & Noble needs to do in order not to follow Kodak into the brand book of memories is to rethink its business strategy; determine how it can take the products and services it offers – good fits all, by the way – and leverage them in a way that no one else in the category is doing, or can do…Remember, Barnes & Noble has something its competitors don’t – a ubiquitous and very popular brick and mortar presence. To survive the category evolution, it has to somehow bundle its goods and services in a way that’s different from what’s already out there in a way that consumers care about (the mark, of course, of every strong brand).”

And while radio isn’t anywhere in the dire straits faced by retail booksellers, the analogy shouldn’t be lost on any of us.  It is essential that the industry reassess its place in the bigger scheme of the media entertainment world, focusing on differentiation and the utilization of its unique assets.  Barnes & Noble isn’t going to climb out of this mess with its Nook.  As Adamson points out, its strategists are going to have to find other ways to create a new space or application for this traditional brick and mortar company.

And Barnes & Noble isn’t going to survive its travails with a “business as usual” mentality any more than radio will.  While we have to face the everyday challenges of winning in the ratings, getting on the buy, and providing emergency coverage when a tornado blows through town, it is essential that the powers that be in radio rethink the givens and focus on Adamson’s exercise.

What do we have going that no one else has?

What assets are unique and proprietary?

How can we leverage our strengths to create something special that listeners can’t get anywhere else?

How do consumers use and value us in ways that provide differentiation and a unique experience?

How can we repackage these elements to make radio vital during this disruptive period?

(These are better questions than “How can we make money on Facebook?” – trust me.)


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2 Responses to Brand Alive

  1. Mike Anthony on March 15, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Fred –

    The term that has been coined by Brian Solis for the what’s happening to brands that are now found in the traditional business graveyard is “Digital Darwinism – the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than some companies ability to adapt. He says business must
    Adapt or Die”.

    He goes into great depth in this interview that is a perfect extension of the points you have made today and in the past about the importance of brand.

    Thank you for leading the proverbial broadcasting horse to water. I hope someday it will drink in the knowledge and act.

    Mike Anthony

    • Fred Jacobs
      Fred Jacobs on March 15, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      I have read Brian’s writings on the topic and of course, it’s spot on. I hope visitors checking out these comments take a few minutes to visit his site. And thanks again for all that you contribute to this space.

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