How to Keep Your Brand From Going the Way of the Dinosaur

These days, demographic-based branding dominates all. The problem all brands face is this: if your brand suits a particular demographic at this moment, what happens as that demographic ages and times change?  Do you age with them and eventually become extinct, or do you fight to stay relevant to subsequent generations of consumers? Of course you know the answer to that question: FIGHT! Go to the mattresses to avoid becoming irrelevant and sinking into oblivion!

We are all familiar with brands—big brands—that have found themselves becoming associated with an aging demographic. Take Gap, Inc. for example: remember all the changes they made to try to turn things around a few years back?  They had to find a way to differentiate their brand and revamp their stores by doing tons of promotions and expansions. It cost them a lot of effort and cash and took a long time, but most industry analysts say they’ve finally turned it around and gained their customer base back.

There’s a lot we can learn from the mistakes of the big brands like Gap, but the most important thing is “don’t get too comfortable.”  Just because you appeal to people now, doesn’t mean your branding job is finished. It needs to continually evolve—or risk extinction.

Now it’s not just retail businesses that struggle with this problem. For another example, think about what’s happening in thousands of libraries across the country today: in this age of cyber everything, what good are shelves of dusty old reference books?  We have Google now! The internet is on our phones which are in our pockets 24/7!

The information age is forcing libraries to adjust their function to fit the next generation of patrons. Sure, there are still people who prefer to use dusty old reference books, but that population is dwindling as more people migrate to a digital way of life.

So, libraries are facing a branding crisis of sorts just as Gap and many other retail brands do. They’re having to differentiate themselves from the old notion of “library,” appeal to a new demographic, and remain relevant for an emerging generation.

To achieve this goal, some libraries have adopted Internet cafés with free wifi. They’re finding new ways to engage the community and keep them coming through the doors by offering free classes like “eBay 101,” providing physical event space for meetings, and expanding their repertoire of services in many exciting ways.

Professional librarians are transforming themselves from the old stereotype of bespectacled old ladies poring over crusty tomes into Internet savvy cyber superheroes able to whip up queries and ferret out information, and in doing so they’re finding that their new job is to save us from being buried alive in the information age. The core mission is the same, but the way it’s carried out is evolving.

That’s exactly what businesses like yours need to do to avoid becoming extinct: Marketing your brand is never a “set-it-and-forget-it” proposition. That doesn’t mean you have to change who you are or what you stand for, but you do have to pay constant attention to keep your demographic engaged so your customers don’t dismiss you as dated, move on to a more hip competitor, and ultimately forget about you.

Leave a Comment