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Brand Vs Tech #2.: Sometimes 2nd Place Is Not Good Enough!

I was driving home today from meetings with an agency this afternoon, and while I was driving, I saw this sad sticker on a particular cab company car. If I wasn't driving, I would have taken a pic with my iPhone, but I abide by the laws. (I hope my son is reading this part)

But the immediate thought I had was this: despite what we tell our kids, sometimes 2nd place is not good enough!

My heart goes out to the many legacy businesses, sort of. And let me explain both:


Firstly, likely some very smart, ambitious, and hard-working people started this taxi company years ago. They had great success, they battled competitors, and they provided a living for many great Canadians and likely new Canadians. I applaud that!

Sort Of:

But secondly and the "sort of" is this: like many legacy companies, they took their eye off growth: and by growth I mean relevance, differentiation and evolution. And along comes Uber, and other ride-sharing platforms.

I respect and understand what Salim Ismail refers to when he talks about a company's "immune system": that innate ability in an organization to fight off that "new", the "foreign body", the strategies that jeopardize political safety-nets.

And I've written about this before!

But if you were a C.E.O. of a taxi company back then, looking in the rear-view mirror (no pun intended), would it have been wise to invest x% of money and produce perhaps -1.5% reduction in profit and put it into R&D back in 2014 to explore growth and innovation, transformation, Lean Start-up practices, use Design Thinking to make sure we have satiated customers, or was it better to have +1.5% more profit, only to know your company, brand and industry are going to be completely disrupted (a polite short-hand for "update your resume")?

Brand Vs. Tech.

So again, I raise the question: brand or technology? This particular taxi company was a brand, decent, I don't know the metrics, but I would argue: ok! But then a new tech. player comes along, with little to no brand, assumedly predicated on insights, builds a tech. platform, which, unto itself, comes with modernity and dynamism, and jettisons itself to the forefront.


So what do you do with Jeff's semi-interesting thoughts?

1. Institutionalize R&D again, in a new, meaningful and evolved way?

2. Conduct quarterly interviews in field, via Design Thinking practices, with existing and prospect customers?

3. Get into your competitors, and more importantly, your adjacency businesses, if you can spot them before they arrive?

4. etc.

I wish these legacy businesses nothing but success. And I'll not write about what I've already written about in terms of Netflix or the music industry. But there is room for all businesses and organizations that provide real value! And guess what, the goals posts of value are in a constant, evolutionary change. The answer isn't binary; it is contiguous and ever evolving! The answer, IMO, is always on, Agile Marketing and only the evolving (as a verb) will survive!

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