A lesson in branding from a seed.
Just the other day I was having a chat with a friend over a “cutting chai” and somehow landed up on the topic of how things have come to be. Evolution of things if you may. Below is an excerpt from that conversation;
Samir: Did you know that the wheat we consume today was an inferior kind of wheat as compared to another one?
Me: What do you mean?
Samir: There were two major kinds of wheat seeds. One, which was far superior in design and was more likely to survive in nature. It was light and aerodynamically shaped, hence it could fly and travel larger distances making it more likely to survive. The other was bigger and lumpier and would at best fall and travel short distances.
For whatever the reasons at the time, once man started farming, we used the latter variety and didn’t understand enough about the other. Over a period of time, the more advanced variety died out and the lesser flourished.
Me: So basically we’ve been screwing with nature since we started farming! A seed that was more likely to survive by default goes extinct and the one which would have probably died survives today.
But, shouldn’t the other seed also have survived? Given its characteristics?
Samir: Well, It should have. But by the nature of it being so evolved man wouldn’t use them, since they would fly away before harvesting. Man used the other since it was “dumber” and wouldn’t fly away hence serve to be more useful.
I honestly don’t know how factual this theory is. However, for the length of this article if we were to consider it to be true, there is a message I took out of it as a branding professional.
Recently I read an article which speaks about how technology brands are valued based on its “Innovation Potential”. This is the feeling a consumer or a prospective buyer has about the brands ability to deliver innovative products. On the same sentiment, most brands today also look to be more innovative than their competition and its quite a rat race.
However, if we were to look for the “Moral of the story” from the above “chai-talk”, the message is clear; “Being the most advanced is “cool”, but being “useful” is good business”. I think company’s should devote at least some amount of its time, energy and resources to become or at the very least appear to be “Relevant” to the consumer.
If there is a company which has one of the most advanced products in the pipeline, far superior and slick than any of the competition, some even calling it paradigm shifting… then ;
IRONMAN SAYS STOP!!!
And consider the following;
First, pat yourself on the back for achieving such a great feat!
Second, take a step back and ask one simple, yet important question.
Will my customers find this product useful?
And if, after a serious and objective discussion the answer is “Yes”, then go right ahead and plan for a grand product launch and pop open a bubbly.
However, if the answer for whatever reason is “No”, then let the bubbly chill for a bit longer. It surely isn’t the end of the road for all that hard work. Consider augmenting the offering and making it more useful, understand that the offering might not be relevant at this time or even consider ways of making sure the consumer perceives it to be more useful than anything they might be using today.
A small example of the last point is that of the “paradigm shifting” Sony Walkman, which came to market at a time when the consumers didn’t know they wanted something of the sort and were more than happy carrying around their “Boom-Boxes’ over their shoulders.
To conclude, the larger thought is to say that if we were faced with a scenario where we as brand managers were to make a decision between “The most useful” and “The most advanced”, we should vouch for the former. As the lesser seed would have said to its counterpart, “You might be better, but they like me more!”.