One of the core questions for marketing people has always been centred around how to adapt and transform in an ever-changing world. There's an interesting and useful analysis here
by two authors from the agency Flamingo
, who have examined change in a wide variety of fields, and constructed a simple model showing four strategic directions a brand could choose - Guide, Translate, Create and Pivot - along with good examples of brands who have used those different strategies.
I like this analysis, although it does tiptoe into an area that seems to be, in my mind, rather over-played currently: that of the VUCA world "out there."
There can be few readers who haven't heard about VUCA from some source or another, but in case you haven't, the acronym stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.
This acronym didn't come from some marketing consultant, but from the U.S. Military, in the context of Afghanistan and Iraq in the 1990s.
Is this really how we want to see the world we're operating in? Are our brands weapons in some kind of war?
I don't think so.
What if we thought of it this way:
For 'Volatile', read 'Spontaneous'
For 'Uncertain', read 'Surprising'
For 'Complex', read 'Diverse'
And for 'Ambiguous', read 'Enigmatic'
Because it's not us against them, there is no world "out there", "external" and "internal". We are all part of the world.
It's the role of brands not to provide stability in the sense of stasis and resistance to change, but rather to provide a clear purpose and direction as part of a wonderful, multi-facetted, animated, rich and mysterious world.