When it comes to the longevity of your brand, the challenge is simply to remain relevant, no matter what happens in the market. Being future proof means standing the test of time. It’s the difference between retro and classic. It’s the difference between the flash in the pan and becoming an institution. And it’s the difference between fad and enduring.
For your own security, and for the value your ultimate acquirer will place on your brand equity, you must do your best to future proof your brand. Since your brand is only as good as the products and services it represents, your products and services must be future proof as well.
Here is our short list for future proofing:
Name and Logo. Choose a name and a logo that are both simple and classic. Resist the temptation to jump on a hot trend. There will be a new hot trend tomorrow and you don’t want to be locked into yesterday. What’s cool today is cold tomorrow. Your name and your logo ideally describe what your brand does, your name is 3 syllables or less, is easy to remember, and your logo is readily recognizable.
Product and Service. Your product or service must address a long-term need. And the need should not be eliminated because of industry disruption like the buggy whip which went out with horse drawn carriages. In these days of rapid technological obsolescence, it’s important to stay relevant, and you may have to change or reinvent your product or service to do so.
Organization and Information. The key to remaining relevant is to organizationally hard-wire sales and customer service to marketing, production and R&D. The feedback your sales and customer service people receive daily from the market must find a direct path to the folks who are designing your products and marketing programs. This is the best insurance policy against obsolescence.
Customer Experience. What the customer experiences with your branded products and services is critical to longevity. Even with a popular product, poor customer service can damage your brand severely. So a big part of future proofing is your commitment to customer service. Without constant vigilance over quality control, distribution, and customer relations, your brand will not survive in the long term. When the times change, you need your customers to remain loyal.
Future-proofing is a multifaceted task, a series of actions taken in a variety of areas working in concert.
Let’s look at an example of a product we are all familiar with – the petroleum fuel industry. The increasing evidence that petroleum fuels hurt our health, destroy the environment, and foment war is going to, as Elon Musk says, cause a revolution against that type of fuel. This will be hastened by a reduction in the cost of electricity, improvement in the range of batteries, and an increase in the frequency of natural disasters tied to global warming. Does this sound like petroleum fuels are future proof?
Much of the future is pure guesswork, parts of it are obvious, and some of it we deliberately ignore. Today’s megatrends will certainly produce a different future for many businesses, brands, and products. We need to keep abreast of changes if we hope to see them coming.
These are just a few of the considerations that can help you future proof your business, your brand, and your products. If you are serious about future proofing, you have to take a sober view of the future and do all you can to create and maintain an ongoing exceptional customer experience with relevant products, conveniently available, and supported by stellar service. Here’s to your future!
Who Are We.
Having built and sold a bestselling national brand, we appreciate the value of brands and everything it takes to make them successful. Companies are valued by their brand equity. Achieving and maximizing brand equity requires tremendous respect for all your customers, from your wholesaler to your end user.
Starting in our laundry room with no money and no knowledge of the industry, we built the famous Barefoot Wine brand. We learned a lot they don’t teach in school and much of it the hard way. Although our success was in consumer products, our real world experience will be helpful to anyone looking for information and advice about brands.
We have written the New York Times Bestselling Business Book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand, which chronicles the history of the famous brand from its inception through its acquisition. Our book is now required reading in schools of entrepreneurship across the country. We hope this book will provide inspiration and encouragement for all those contemplating starting a brand or wanting to improve their existing brand.
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders