Change ... is Lord of the Universe. Everything is in a state of becoming, of continual flux. [Heraclitus, Panta Rhei]
There is a concept in Buddhism called anicca. It means impermanence is the bedrock on which everything thrives. It is this single word that is the core of Buddha's teaching. Everything is in a state of movement. Change is the only permanence. The great master, the "Knower of the Worlds" flourished some 2500 years ago. Yet, his teaching of dynamic reality propels us to achieve material gain with amazing success. He has successfully handed you the master key to open any door you wish, to fulfill any desire you have.
If change is the only constant of this material reality then growth is your only option to survive as a business. Because, as brand marketers, we all know that preferences change, demographics shift and somewhere along the way customers has to be replaced. In the face of this continuous state of becoming, you have to constantly evolve, re-package re-wire your brand perception. The GM story of becoming is still very vivid in my mind. From being the legendary company that once sold half of the cars on block, overnight the company was forced into a yard sale with Saab, Opel and Hummer. 2008 marked the collapse of the old way of doing business and companies like GM were forced to carve out a new and essential discipline: brand renewal. On the flip side of the coin, Toyota is the brand that lives and breathes the principle of becoming and renewal.
How do you stay centered in the swing of inevitable changes?
Holistic brand wisdom from the master himself.
“Resolutely train yourself to attain peace.” ― Gautama Buddha
The Buddha says, peace can only be achieved by understanding and embracing impermanence. It…"comes from within. Do not seek it without.” This holds true in understanding your self and in understanding your brand proposition. Define the core purpose of your brand with clarity. Strong brands grow from the core. It is about understanding the context where the brand resides. When obesity, diabetes and heart disease became the public outcry of our times, the global icon McDonald's responded by revisiting its core and came up with an evolved brand promise. “Simple, easy, enjoyment” expresses the classic McDonald’s proposition–good foods, delivered quickly. However, it went further by giving the brand permission to translate that promise into something more in context for today–fresh salads, new menus highlighting calories intakes and gourmet coffee. McDonald’s has peacefully evolved because it grew from the core.
Having a Plan B in place is another critical factor in attaining your individual peace and sustaining the vitality of your brand. Build contingencies in place, to deal with the unknowns and uncertainties. The Buddha literally advised married couples to buy property insurance to deal with the unknowns of flood and fire. I kid you not! Check it out. Anguttara Nikaya 8:49; IV 269-71
“The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.” ― Gautama Buddha
"There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder." It is fear that haunts you like a mistress paralyzing your potential to evolve and touch your wisdom. Fear is the enemy of creation, fear is the enemy of innovation. Fear is the comfort of staying within the known faculties. Being fearless, you meet your expanded yourself—you are onto something bigger. When you are on this quest "dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” You inspire your customers. Your brand becomes a powerhouse of new ideas that are sought after by new businesses..
Apple is a clear example of a brand that is fearless to demand premium price because it fearlessly shouts out loud and clear “man should not be subservient to machine.” The campaign "Talk to Chuck" embodies the principle of fearlessness by the brand Charles Schwab. The brand fearlessly courts investors who felt disrespected by other financial outfits.
“I don’t have to qualify to get guidance. I just get it.” Understanding your clients' emotions gives you a competitive edge. Fearlessly skate the edge!
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” ― Gautama Buddha
It is intellect that puts ideas in the form of thoughts, gathering and organising the thoughts at the same time. There are great ideas which lie beyond the ordinary human mentality, which can put on all possible forms. These great ideas tend to descend, they want to manifest themselves in precise forms. These precise forms are the thoughts; and generally it is this, I believe, that is meant by intellect: it is this that gives thought-form to the ideas. Centre for Consciousness Studies
How does this high philosophy apply to your brand nourishment?
When you think of Tide, you think of it as a cleaning agent that does a pretty good job. But did you know that Tide is a "biochemical masterpiece, without technical peer in the detergent world." It all happened because of an idea that was contradictory to the accepted science of the day. Who knew that reducing the proportion of cleaning agent would form the chemical basis of the popular detergent. "No one could figure out why it worked, but it worked." Moral of the story invest in customer-focused innovation. At the end of the day it gives you the economic leverage specially during the times of economic hardship.
"The greatest quality is seeking to serve others."
"The greatest precept is continual awareness."
"The greatest action is not confirming with the worlds ways."
"The greatest magic is transmuting the passions."
"The greatest generosity is non-attachment."
"The greatest patience is humility."
"The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances."
A brand that adheres to these precepts is a brand that stands the test of time. It stands on the high ground of transparency, authenticity and accountability.
Question to ponder. Does my brand make the cut?
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Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly. Franz Kafka