Change what, how, where, who, but never why

Change what, how, where, who, but never why

Last year I wrote a blog called ‘To Preserve your Brand Stimulate Progress’. I was reminded again this week why it is an important concept that’s worth repeating.

Look around and you can see the skeletons of companies who have failed to live the inherent tension best articulated by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: “Enduring, great companies preserve their core values and purpose while their business strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.”

And this model for preserving what’s core while stimulating progress around everything else is as relevant to the brand as it is to the overall business.

Your brand is the result of the promises you keep, and when those promises get out of sync with the environment around you it is a safe bet even the most loyal customers will eventually go looking around.

So to stay in sync you will need to change what you do. Change how you do it. Change where you do it. Change who you do it for. But never change why you are doing it. Never change what you care most about.

A great example of this idea in action comes from one of my brand favourites, Patagonia, who have expanded their product line to include food. You can read more about the move and what drove it from the article:

“Ever since our founder, Yvon Chouinard, started selling clothes, he was always really interested in the food. He’s a climber – and in rock climbing, it can take days to scale a mountain and you can only take so much weight with you. So he spent a lot of time thinking about how he packs food and what food he brings with him.”

It might seem a long way from outdoor apparel to food, but when that food is sustainably sourced (in alignment with your core) and focused on the needs of the outdoor enthusiast (in alignment with your core) it isn’t such a stretch.

And by adding new products that fit with their purpose they are giving customers a reason to come back – given the longevity of use their apparel gets, a consumable like food maybe isn’t such a bad idea!

There are lots of other tales about companies that preserve their core and stimulated progress. You know them because they are the ones that stay relevant year in and year out. Who withstand the onslaught of competitors not by simply defending their turf, but by finding new turf. Who never forget that what they care about is what attracted their customers in the first place but don’t use that as an excuse to stay stuck in one place.

Do you preserve your core AND still stimulate progress? Your brand will thank you.

See you next week.

Michel is an Independent brand analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make – with a strong, resilient organisation as the result. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan


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