Hey, brands. That was “Then,” this is “Now.”

Whether they were launched 100 years ago or just 10 years ago, brands have operated basically the same, as represented by the “Then” column below. Brands born in the digital and social era are different, as represented by the “Now” column.

Brands Then Now
Have a: Tagline Mission
Sell at: Retail Everywhere
Customers: Many, but infrequent Fewer, but loyal
Feedback is: Avoided Welcomed
Appeal to: Everyone Some
based on:
Common functional needs Shared values
Brands: Avoid controversy Take a stand

Does this mean brands created in the “Then” era are doomed?!

Not necessarily, but it does mean they will need to make some changes to embrace “Now.” Let’s examine the last point, brands avoiding controversy versus brands living their values and taking a stand.

Two recent examples come to mind. Nike, embracing those individuals willing to give up everything for what they believe in. Sales +31%. Levi’s, fighting climate change, speaking out about gun violence and encouraging voting. Sales +11%. That makes four quarters of double-digit growth! That’s not to say brands should embrace causes for the sales benefit, but it is saying that brands that live their values are being recognized and rewarded for it.

What I particularly like about these two examples is that both were challenger brands that became leading brands, and unfortunately stopped leading somewhere along the way. Now they have reconnected with the challenger brand mindset and restored their mojo and growth. Welcome back!

Challenger brands have always acted like “Now” brands.
Maybe there is a lesson in that.

I would love to hear your thoughts on how else brands are different now, and some examples of your favorite Then brands that have become Now brands, like Nike and Levi’s. Contact me below and share your thoughts.

Dan Collins

SVP, Chief Strategy Officer

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