the two types of brands

random thoughts

“I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in businesses, essentially creating two distinct ‘groups’ of brands, entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Looking over brands and the people who got us as branding professionals excited to work on their brands and projects, I found one common characteristic: those who excited me were looking to the future. More to the point, they were creating the present starting with the future. Like a gold medal Olympic runner, they are motivated by the end goal, the finish line, the win for their country. In short, by that factor that doesn’t yet exist. This group of business leaders is one category of business people and businesses — a very exciting type of entrepreneur to work with since they look at things which don’t yet exist and work to bridge the gap between what isn’t yet. Oftentimes, these are seen as the visionaries, the ‘geniuses’, the ones who ignore (or redefine, or reinvent) the box everyone else is trying to think outside of.

The other category of brand and entrepreneur is the one who creates the future starting with the present. This approach uses today’s resources and looks to move those into the future. This tends to be a bit more conservative even though it can achieve incredible success.

The difference is this: referring back to the Olympic runner mentioned above, you would find a distinct difference between the runner that’s focused on right now, their current stride, how much they’re breathing, etc. and the one focused on the future. The difference is ‘the launch pad’ or ‘foundation’ of each. It’s almost a question of are they looking forward from now or looking back (reporting to us their findings) from the future?

The most commonly known example of these two types of entrepreneurs is the difference between Microsoft and Apple (under Steve Jobs). Microsoft used the present to create their future in business whereas Steve Jobs endlessly looked to what could be and started with the future dreams and aspirations and brought them into being. This mentality and orientation defined each company, its DNA and the overall culture each company was known for.

There’s a cousin of this second group (that creates the future starting with the present): it’s those who create the present starting with the past. But I am not speaking about those who are revivalists or curators of incredible vintage artifacts; I am referring here to those who refuse to change with the times or recognize new ways to attack a problem, and insist that the old notion or approach is somehow sacred and must remain inviolate, even when faced with insurmountable evidence that it is no longer effective.

The dividing line is, where does a project, brand, dream or vision start?
_If it starts in the past, it is most likely to become extinct as times change.
_If it starts in the present, the options remain more limited since one is using today’s available resources.
_If it starts in the future, it’s a wide open playing field and you’re likely ‘one of the crazy ones’ who might just change the world.”

David Brier branding expert


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