Brands can change – if they are about their customers

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

24 March 2010

Adapting to change: Why a brand helps

It’s easy to pick on Blockbuster right now – and heaven knows I’ve done it. The once rental giant is facing bankruptcy and reports are it’s nearly $1 billion in debt.

We’ve said it along, and it’s true: While Blockbuster does need a new model – and its recent partnership with T-Mobile to offer on-demand video is a nice touch – but that isn’t going to fix the problem.


As Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, stated: “It doesn’t matter how well capitalized you are, if the branding isn’t there, you’re not going to be able to compete.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Blockbuster isn’t the first company to slowly die because it failed to adapt to changes in its market (Converse and Sears are others that come to mind), and it won’t be the last.

And, sadly, it won’t be the last failing to understand a brand based on who their customers are when they use them will carry them through market changes.

A brand isn’t about the company – which is what the Blockbuster brand has been about – but about the customer. If it’s about the customer, then market changes are already imbedded in it. It gives you permission to move ahead because the brand is about the customer, whose changes match those in the market. (See Apple.)

More simply put: If your brand is about the company, it doesn’t have permission to change. If it’s about the customer, then it can change along with them.

See more posts in the following related categories: Blockbuster Blockbuster brand Blockbuster marketing DVD Netflix T-Mobile


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