Success is found in a simple equation: a good business model plus a strong brand strategy will thrive.
As part of that equation, I will be the first person to tell you how important it is to have a solid brand strategy. I believe any organization in any industry can benefit from being proactive and strategic with their brand. No exceptions.
I will also tell you that a good business model could still be successful without the support of a compelling brand strategy. As much as it pains me to admit it, there are plenty of organizations that succeed regardless of how clumsy, disorganized or just plain bad their brand appears. The team works hard (probably harder than they have to), and they are able to hold enough relationships to support a business. It’s not pretty, and it’s not easy, but it works for them.
The opposite, however, is not true. Even the best brand execution won’t save an organization with a poor model behind their operations. It doesn’t matter how much attention or love or enthusiasm the brand generates; if the organization can’t function effectively, it’s doomed. If the organization doesn’t generate interest and deliver value—whether that’s revenue, donors, supporters, or attention—it simply isn’t sustainable.
While a good business may survive with a weak brand, a poorly run organization will fail, even with the best brand ideas. Always. You have to have a good model to have success with a great brand. No exceptions.
Kodak is expected to file for bankruptcy in the coming weeks. Kodak is an amazing brand; the phrase “a Kodak moment” is synonymous with moments so special they are worthy of a fabulous photo. With a solid brand and a lucrative business model—for many years they had a virtual monopoly on film production—the company was a classic power brand; the choice of consumers, a desired employer, an industry innovator and a leader within its community.
Kodak had the chance to stay relevant and evolve the brand experience, but they missed the opportunity. Love for the brand couldn’t ignore the technology shift that was eating away at the existing business model. The brand still holds a place in everyone’s heart—it’s an American icon—but the business model eroded and has fallen apart.
A strong brand strategy can evolve with the business model. A smart model can evolve around what innovation delivers and what the market demands. A good model is at the foundation of a great brand.