Much has been written and said about the importance of remaining true to who you are and being consistent in acting synchronously with your core values. Consistency, whether applied to personal behavior or your business can be the most challenging of the fundamentals of behavior or business management. In the face of pressure to grow sales, increase market share over the competition or meet arbitrary next quarter sales goals; staying true to who you are and what brought you to success can be a formidable challenge. Combine that with the one absolute that says, “in business to stand still in one place invites irrelevance in the market” and staying true to your brands identity can become a herculean task at best. Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Emerson wasn’t referring to business but the thought could just as legitimately be applied.
An organization’s core value is relative to that which it does best or that which it is best known for in a market. A product or service that has value to consumers can often include intangibles and anything else that consumers can associate with your efforts. A company’s brand image is the total of all the perceptions held by customers about your specific product offerings and is an important component of your brands value. Straying too far from a core identity in search of increased profit or market position can be damaging.
Surveys have found that increasing the number or complexity of products will result in consumer confusion, a fact that is contrary to established marketing theory that more choices are better for consumers and will naturally lead to additional sales. New product offerings must be relevant to the core brand to be successful.
After years of unsuccessful efforts to appeal to a broader consumer market with non-traditional health-conscious salads, snack wraps, smoothies and low-calorie, fries, Burger King is finally realizing that it is all about the hamburger, and maybe the relevant hot dog. McDonald’s, after years of declining sales, is still searching for its former self, the one that got it to the top of the fast-food spectrum. Steve Barr, PwC’s US retail and consumer leader, says, “There are brands that know exactly who they are and they never ever try to be anything more than they are. I think, from my perspective, it’s less about history and more about relevancy, and even the best of brands, if they don’t maintain their relevancy, will lose their way with the consumer. The great thing about the classic brands is there really is a tremendous amount of trust. So when those brands do change, even as they’re constantly reinventing themselves, they’re always staying true to their purpose.”
The evolving advancement in technology and changes in consumer behavior are pushing companies to embrace new strategies to remain relevant in a dynamically changing marketplace. Those that are successful in meeting the new demands of its customers are those that remain focused on its core purpose. Are you consistent in your efforts to reach your audience? What has worked for your business?