In today's fast paced market, things are changing at rapid speed, with hundreds of product choices available at the touch of a button, it's never been more important for businesses to keep their finger on the pulse.
We now live in a world where you have to evolve to stay in the game and if you aren't tailoring your business to meet the increasing demands of your customer, you could risk losing your competitive edge and send your business straight to its deathbed.
Apple, Ann Summers and Burberry are examples of brands which may not have been as successful as they are today, had they not innovated to keep their brands alive. Some reinvented themselves and others reinvented the industry.
Almost 13 years ago Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy. Previous CEO Gil Amelio was ousted from the company and Steve Jobs was called in to take on the challenge of turning things around. Shortly after forming a partnership and gaining a financial investment from Microsoft, Apple moved the brand forwards by their shifting their focus away from competing with the market and turning their attention towards creating a winning product. They invested their resources into designing a computer model that would draw people's attention and in 1998 the iMac was introduced, they got rid of the beige box and created a colourful all in one iMac which focused on creating a lifestyle choice with its 'think different' campaign. It was the first computer that allowed customers to blend a technology choice with their identity; the new approach was a success and returned the business back to profit status.
Shortly after resurrecting the brand, Apple extended their product range beyond computers and began to create and release Mac tailored software. Soon after creating software they opened their first store in 2001. The stores were designed to be inviting and appealing allowing customers to play with devices as much as they want and created a 'try before you buy' experience.
Apple never rested on their laurels, they constantly explored new ways of doing things and as technology evolved so did their offering. After recognising the demand for a portable music player they went on to launch the iPod and created iTunes which helped the music industry to fight piracy. Shortly after, the digital App store was created followed by the iPhone and the iPad. Steve Jobs was focused on selling dreams, not products, his commitment to constantly problem solve, innovate and explore different concepts for Apple products revolutionised the industry, making Apple the success that it is today.
Prior to current CEO Jacqueline Gold joining the family business, Ann Summers was a small chain of sex shops. After spending a few years working in the business, Jacqueline was able to notice an opportunity for its stores to be more female friendly. After almost being laughed out of a male dominated board room with her idea to appeal to women, she was determined to make Ann Summers accessible to women and transformed the brand with an idea to set up a Tupperware-style party service solely for women.
The idea involved female Ann Summers' representatives visiting women's houses with a range of lingerie and sex toys for them and their friends to see and buy. This opened the business up to a whole new market. Females that may have felt embarrassed or unwilling to walk into an Ann Summers store now had access to lingerie and sex toys from the comfort of their own homes. The parties became a hit and with the increased turnover, Ann Summers were able to reinvest in opening stores.
After being appointed as chief executive in 1993, Jacqueline rebranded Ann Summers stores to be fit for high streets. The store designs were given a makeover with bright colours and a fresh layout. Sex toys were moved to the back of the store and the displays were made to feel more inviting for women. The redesign allowed Ann Summers to expand its stores across the country, transforming its reputation from backstreet sex shop to a respectable high-street brand. Alongside hosting parties and opening high-street stores, in 1999 annsummers.com was launched turning Ann Summers into a multi-channel retailer.
Jacqueline's determination to tailor the brand towards the needs of the customer meant that she was able to move the business from its initial 10% female customer profile to its current 80%, making it the success that it is today.
In 2001 Burberry developed into a brand that had suddenly moved from 'country to cool'. Wanting to capitalise on its success Burberry made the decision to extensively license their products, which opened the door to disaster. In the years that followed Burberry almost faced collapse. The brand had started to become associated with chav culture and hooliganism, people wearing Burberry were unable to enter pubs in certain parts of the UK and the association from 'classy to chav' sent its sales plummeting.
Just as the brand was at the brink of disaster in 2008, Angela Ahrendts took over as CEO. Her first task was to take back control of Burberrys intellectual property. After reclaiming licenses, Burberry moved their brand to the digital space, they embraced social media by live streaming fashion shows, creating digital engagement with consumers and cleverly using social media to create a global trench coat campaign that repositioned their brand to be seen as aspirational.
They enlisted respectable British brand ambassadors ranging from actors such as Emma Watson to musicians and models that reflected a sophisticated British image to reinforce their brand alignment. Burberry also launched a new concept to personalise their products by allowing customers to have their names and initials sown into garments when ordering.
Burberry shook off the uncomfortable perceptions of their brand by repositioning itself with innovative concepts and reinforcement of its core brand values, this transformed their reputation and steered them back to success.
Apple, Ann Summers and Burberry could have easily faced the same fate as brands such as Blackberry or Blockbuster; but they chose to reinvent and re-position themselves to stay in the running. If Blockbuster had chosen to innovate would they have been Netflix?
Customers' expectations have changed, they aren't shouting they are sharing, they aren't buying a product anymore; they are buying a promise to a better future. If you want your business to stand the test of time then it's vital to continually innovate to meet the demands of tomorrow's world.