A lot of times you'll hear that a brand failed because they didn't ’grow with their audience.’ As if a brand much like the consumer journeys toward inevitable death immediately after conception. This couldn't be further from the truth.
Your goal should be to either develop an eternal brand or body of work that appreciates and improves over time. Or to sell your business or intellectual property for a more than fair price.
I’ve never seen ’growing with an audience’ work out well. You can find the best examples of this on television. Cartoons like Doug and Rugrats both tried to develop preteen-friendly versions of these critically acclaimed kid’s shows and were met with lackluster reviews. Even billion-dollar brands like McDonald's try to mature menu items. Do you remember the Mighty Kids Meal, the preteen version of a Happy Meal?
It doesn't exist anymore because it wasn't a sustainable idea.
If you're in the youth business, stay in the youth business. Understand that a portion of your clientele will grow out of it but find solace that there will be a new crop of young people to take their place. Your greatest concern should be maintaining a youthful identity. Because though it's not necessary to grow with your audience, you'll need to grow with the times.
Big brands think pandering to new generations will help boost sales. Running youth based campaigns that try to take advantage of the social climate. We saw that last year with the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. Let's just say that was a win for Coke. A recent example is IHOP's attempt at becoming a burger joint and changing their name. It didn’t work, abandoning your core values will never work.
If you make pancakes, make pancakes. Once you change that you’ll lose the consumers trust.
Update your product and business by investing in new technology that benefits your field. For example, if you’re a caterer, instead of making spaghetti donuts why not invest in a smart oven or some other appliance that helps with production time. Another way to stay cool and relevant is through social media. Companies like Wendy’s run witty Twitter campaigns and interact regularly with the masses. Obtaining licenses in niche markets is another great way to attack a younger client base. Like Arby’s has with their anime campaign. It's an odd marriage but it works.
The bottom line is you don't have to grow with your audience or client base. You need to grow your business and remain relevant in your industry. The people you're servicing now will age out of your products or services eventually. But there's a new client base being born for you as you read this.
- Earl 'Wolf' Davis