Sean D'Souza: Réinventez votre business - copiez juste Madonna.
By Sean D'Souza
3:45 AM Monday Jul 26, 2010
Call it what you want, but few pop stars and fewer businesses have understood the intricacies of Madonna's genius of reinvention and the inevitable end of the business cycle. What is it about Madonna Inc that has allowed it to consistently reap profits for over 18 years on the trot? And is there something we in business can learn about branding from the chameleon of pop music?
Gasp! That's what the audience would do, every time Harry Houdini cheated apparent death. Madonna seems to have used the same bag of tricks. Reinventing herself in almost clockwork fashion, she has transmogrified herself successfully into virgin, material girl, boy toy, dominatrix, media maven to working mum. And made big bucks all the way.
Most businesses experience growth, both intellectually and physically, yet every business seems to run on summer growth. Never changing, never evolving, they hope Jack Frost will give them a wide berth when the cold days roll along. That doesn't always happen and when the business peters out, it's "let's blame the economy" time, when what they've done is failed to plan for the end of a business cycle.
Take, for example, a big law firm in Auckland. Lots had changed within the firm. It had grown considerably over the years and believed that its outdated logo was the hallmark of the firm.
Simple research showed otherwise. The clients hated it. Fuddy-duddy, they called it. Yet the partners and other lawyers were as competent as ever, if not more so. A simple logo change, some internal and external fix-its and voila, they could do little wrong.
The firm had simply failed to track public opinion that had gone against them. Once they realised it, they could mend it. Once they fixed the logo (among other things), they were reborn.
Are we suggesting you reinvent the wheel? Madonna doesn't think so. Like a hardcore brand specialist, Madonna has actually stuck to her brand like glue.
If you look carefully, she stands for RADICALISM. Everything she's done has taken her one step higher on that scale.
Coke, too, tried to reinvent itself, but failed miserably. Why? Because Coke owns the word "classic". People loved their Coke. It was owned by us sugar-water drinkers and no one, not even Coca-Cola Inc, was going to change it.
Yet Coke has reinvented itself in several other ways. Its packaging has gone from sexy bottle to cans and then to 2 litre bottles without much drama.
Let's face it. It's not just about reinvention. It's about realising which part of your business needs to be reinvented and then having the common sense to leave the rest alone.
Chinese gooseberries were going nowhere till they were renamed kiwifruit. Then, this humble, nondescript looking fruit somehow took on the flavour of an exotic, lush green country. The reinvention wasn't earth-shaking; the results were.
Madonna does just that. While her radicalism has seen an outward change in every avatar, the core change isn't overly dramatic or complex.
Too many marketing people change 20 things all at once. Confused customers don't care. Gradual progression they can handle and want. Dramatic change scares the heck out of them, often causing them to switch brands suddenly and permanently.
For your business, there are several avenues that you need to magnify and reinvent. The main areas that you need to look at are:
* Your communication: Logos, newsletters, emails, etc. Do they really meet your clients' needs? Have you got so busy doing things that you've forgotten to reflect your true worth to your clients?
* Your customer loyalty: Are you stretching these parameters? Are they getting less or more loyal? If yes, why? If no, why not? What do you need to reinvent and re-analyse? And do you have a customer loyalty programme at all?
* Your failure analysis: This is a biggie. If you're not analysing and welcoming failure, you're going to be stuck on your island for so long that you'll sink once global warming gets worse. If you want to double your success rate, you've got to double your failure.
The key to reinvention is simple:
* You've got to die a thousand deaths and come out on the other side.
* Simplicity is the key.
* Your brand image is money in the bank. Don't ever change it.
* Wear the mini only if you can carry it off. Remember there's a market for minis and gowns simultaneously.
While you're reading, Madonna will be hard at work on the next step. Isn't it time you got to work too?
Sean D'Souza is chief executive of Psychotactics and an international author and trainer. He is the author of The Brain Audit - Why Customers Buy (And Why They Don't).
Source: NZ Herald News.