We need to understand and comprehend the technological advances and developments around us if we are to sustain our brands in today’s fast-paced world.
No one wants to become obsolete, but we can unwittingly suffer this fate should we not be vigilant. Remember the call-pagers that once ruled the way we communicate?
They seemingly became obsolete overnight with the entry of analog cell phones, which then gave way just as quickly to digital cell phones. Research and development (R&D) is not limited to experiments or the manufacture and development of new products—it most certainly includes what consumers want.
But how do we guard against fast changing technologies? First, keep up with industry newsmakers (magazines, news development broadcasts, etc.)—be a news junkie. One need not be a techie to keep pace of developments other than to understand new developments. There is also the need to have an information technology professional in the staff, whether for office computers, software developments, or audit. R&D is crucial if brands are to stay viable. Consumer patterns also change with technology. Stay ahead of the game or end up obsolete.
But how do we maintain R&D, other than spend a lot on experiments? We don’t have to be rocket scientists to understand what’s going on around us. But we need to stay aware by reading international marketing magazines, attending exhibits, tracking products as they move on and off shelves and watching changing lifestyle patterns.
Beyond that, presidents, chief executive officers, and brand managers must stay focused on their market rather than isolate themselves; they must stay confident in sales and product performance. Surveys and market research are better tools than R&D, but tend to be costly.
A good brand manager should be able to fit the glove for R&D, consumer habit audits, research, innovative technological advances, and the sensitivity needed to stay ahead of the game. The problem, however, is that, much of the time, identifying a good brand manager can be tricky.
Do we choose a run-of-the-mill candidate from “the young,” fresh out of school; do we choose one that confuses marketing with branding? Or do we choose one that understands that branding is the consistent delivery of the brand promise, generating the integrity needed to make it the brand?
Superbranding is the execution of these values, taking into account the developing patterns of consumers to enable consistent delivery of the promise, thereby generating the integrity needed to sustain sales. Doing so will keep the brand relevant.