Changing Minds with Safe Freedom

We have a situation. 

Many Americans refuse Covid-19 vaccines that will save their lives and the lives of others. Institutional pleas have failed to persuade these vaccine deniers. Scientific data are not working. Public health advertising is not making headway. Even seeing is not believing. According to reporting, not even the Delta-variant-near-death experience of her husband could persuade a woman to become vaccinated. 

This does not mean that people’s minds cannot be changed. Just understand that changing minds requires someone to reconceive an idea that is part of their thinking.

Unfortunately, in many instances facts, data, experts or science make people dig in their heels. When confronted with information that goes against their beliefs, politics, hopes and concerns, people become even more set in their ways. 

Social science research on behavior change indicates that asserting science, facts or data to change minds generates a “backfire effect”. And, since the Covid-19 data are changing rapidly, changed scientific data-based recommendations are scorned.  Recent media report that some people are now aggressively hostile when urged to take a vaccine.

Thinking that people do not understand the truth or cannot grasp the ramifications is an ineffective way to change someone’s conduct. Name calling or public shaming will not work either.

If we wish to change people’s minds, we need to understand that most people do not think like scientists. Wanting people to change their behavior is not a losing battle. It just requires a different strategic approach. The best way to change behavior is to provide an alternative, desirable solution to their concerns. 

There is a behavioral principle that marketers use. This principle can possibly help. 

The principle starts with problem-solution. Problem-solution is the oldest and still most effective form of persuasion. This means getting to the root cause of people’s beliefs. What is the reason why people believe so strongly? Why is that belief important to them? How does that belief make them feel? What is the problem that is solved by their beliefs? Psychologists know that problem-solution is the way to alter behavior.

And, one of the most effective approaches to problem-solution is creating a paradox promise.  A paradox promise focuses on the fact that people have contradictory needs.  People want solutions that solve their conflicting needs. Behavior change success depends on developing compelling, trustworthy paradox promises that deliver relevant, differentiated experiences.

Many successful brands use a paradox promise. Think about Gore-Tex. It is a preferred addition to your fleece jacket or your hiking boots. This is because Gore-Tex is both breathable and water repellent. Charmin toilet paper is both soft and strong.  Diet Coke’s introductory and continuing brand promise is great taste with no calories. Peloton indoor exercise equipment addresses togetherness while alone: alone and together.  The Peloton community is global, connected and supportive while it is composed of individuals, most of whom have never met. Peloton members exercise together in classes but they exercise as individuals working out from home.

The idea of satisfying contradictory needs to create compelling solutions is not just a marketing concept, however. Paradox promises are behind many of the ways in which we wish to live our lives. We live in a world of contradictions. 

We want less government money spent on universal programs while we do not want changes to Social Security or Medicare. We will agree to spend money on infrastructure as long as someone else pays the bill. We want to belong to a nation and want to be valued for our individuality.  We want to belong to a union of countries and want to keep our nationality. We want low interest rates so we can buy a house while we want higher interest rates for our savings accounts. We extol free speech but want to eliminate language we find offensive. We want the liberty to avoid a vaccine but we do want give women the liberty to manage their reproductive rights

We will not take a vaccine that the FDA has not yet formally approved but we will beg for yet-to-be-tested experimental drugs when we are stricken with coronavirus. We want to be rid of Covid-19 but we will not be vaccinated.

Reporting in The New York Times indicates that unvaccinated people say they reject the Covid-19 vaccinations because of possible side effects (53%) and waiting to see if it is safe (40%). This leads us to believe that health safety is key – either personal safety from side effects or general safety generated by reading or seeing how the vaccines affect others. On the one hand, then, health safety seems to be a leading factor in vaccine unwillingness. 

On the other hand, there is our true love of freedom. Freedom is inherent in our individuality and our American ethos. We want the freedom to say what we wish to say, to congregate with whom we wish to congregate, to be free to think whatever thoughts we wish to think, to bear arms, and to feel imposed upon when there are too many government restrictions. One writer for The New York Times believes that vaccine deniers define freedom as the privilege to do whatever they want to do. For these individuals, freedom is defiance of rules regardless of public interest.

Whatever one’s definition of freedom, freedom and health are currently contradictions. Freedom can be free-wheeling, independent, creative and unrestricted. Freedom can be rough and undisciplined. Health safety is inclusive. Health safety is disciplined. Health safety requires standards, regulations, requirements and participation. 

In Bloomberg, a reporter wrote about a legal case in Indiana. Indiana University decided that students would need to be vaccinated to attend school. Eight students sued. The judge ruled for Indiana University. The judge’s opinion underscored the need for “reasonable” regulation to avoid harm to others. According to the Bloomberg story, the judge ruled that if there were not a vaccine mandate, Indiana University would not be able to operate as it should operate. Further, he did not say that Covid-19 restrictions are limitless. He reminded the courtroom that the Constitution still exists. In other words, as the article highlights, the Indiana judge was able to find a legal solution to the contradictory needs of “public safety and personal liberty.”

This is the paradox promise of safe freedom.

Safe freedom is a paradox. It delivers benefits to everyone. And, safe freedom may be the compelling, persuasive solution for the unvaccinated to change their behavior. You can have your personal freedoms and your health safety. 

For the unvaccinated, the message of health safety and individual freedom is essential. The vaccine deniers want to do what they feel is correct. They do not want others telling them what to do. They want personal liberty but they also want to be safe. The benefits of safe freedom are being healthy and free… having individual freedom with personal security.

Beliefs are difficult but not impossible to change. In a Wall Street Journal interview, the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said she was struggling to develop a compelling message about vaccines. Analytics will not work. Vaccine deniers believe that science, data and facts do not make sense. They also believe that their personal liberty is at stake. It may not seem rational. It may not be logical. However, their position is an emotional tug-of-war between personal safety and individual freedom. Publicly bashing their opinions will not break the bonds to their beliefs. Generating a better solution to their emotional concerns is the way forward.

There is a crisis now. 

There does not appear to be any other reasonable alternative for public safety than vaccines. Rather than weigh public health against individual freedom, perhaps we should follow the thinking of the Indiana judge. Let’s solve for both personal liberty and public health. Let’s achieve safe freedom.

Learn more about paradoxes like this one: Navigate how to satisfy conflicting needs, and look beyond single-minded solutions with the insights and guidance in The Paradox Planet.

Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and the Need for Brand Promise

In its recent earnings call, Beyond Meat, the brand of plant-based burgers, “meatballs”, “ground beef” and sausages, announced that its third-quarter sales forecast would be somewhat gloomy. Executives reported lower revenues suggesting that the company’s success might be cooling off the grill.

Beyond Meat reported that its guarded outlook is due to “… losses of distribution and operator challenges due to labor issues.” Additionally, there are growth, expansion expenses such as increased hiring, marketing, freight and legal. Beyond Meat’s CEO stated that he is optimistic about the future. But, the company is wary of being too upbeat as Covid-19 waves could once again impact negatively.

Aside from its growth plan costs along with current and potential disruptions, there is the problem with Beyond Meat’s brand. Beyond Meat is not articulating a differentiating, compelling message to consumers. Its message is almost identical to that of its main competitor, Impossible Foods.

In the beginning, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods actually had two different messages about the future of food. Beyond Meat’s proposition was focused on its closeness to nature. Beyond Meat focused on the purity and simplicity of simple, raw, protein-rich, non-GMO ingredients as the better way to the future. Beyond Meat’s ingredients were ones that we could recognize. And, this is still its position. Basic cooking techniques using plant-based ingredients with no antibiotics, no cholesterol and no hormones.

Impossible Foods emphasized a scientific, lab-based approach.  The brand touted its signature element Heme – this is what makes the burger “bleed” and taste like beef. As described on the Impossible Foods website, “Heme is what makes meat taste like meat. It’s an essential molecule found in every living plant and animal — most abundantly in animals — and something we’ve been eating and craving since the dawn of humanity. Here at Impossible Foods, our plant-based heme is made via fermentation of genetically engineered yeast, and safety-verified by America’s top food-safety experts and peer-reviewed academic journals.”  

Impossible Foods CEO, Patrick Brown stated: “Start with the hard fundamental research required to understand the basic principles and molecular mechanisms responsible for the flavors, aromas, textures and juiciness that make meat delicious and craveable; then, discover scaleable plant sources of the specific proteins and other nutrients required to reproduce the magic of meat.”

Originally, the two brands relevant differentiation were Made by Chemists or Made by Nature; Food Science or Food Authenticity, Scrumptious by Science or Scrumptious by Simplicity.

But now, both brands’ websites offer the same message. Beyond Meat states that the shift to plant-based choices will have a positive impact not just on our health but on the welfare of animals and the wholeness of the planet. The reason for buying Beyond Meat product is that innovation and simple non-GMO ingredients combine to make delicious, protein-based products. And, these delicious products are produced in a sustainable. Beyond Meat’s message stresses the naturalness of its offerings and the nature-forward approach to production. 

Impossible Foods’ website also touts the sustainability and naturalness of its products. The brand asks us to be good to our taste buds and the planet. The ingredients are also ones that we recognize. As with Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods stresses its nature-forward manufacturing.

Both brands not only have the same message.  Both brands have a rather generic message. Many plant-based food brands have messages about “better for you-better for the planet”. Kite Hill, producer of non-dairy alternatives, has a similar proposition, while stressing its innovative “blue-sky” approach to making new products.

A brand is a promise of a relevant, differentiated experience. Without a relevant, differentiated brand experience, you have a product not a brand. 

A brand promise summarizes the special contract that exists between a brand and its customers. It describes what the brand is intended to stand for in the mind of a specific group of customers and/or prospective customers. By consistently living up to and consistently delivering the brand promise, a brand will be relevant and distinctive. A brand promise is something that a brand continuously strives to achieve. It is a future-focused description because it states what the brand will do for its customers.

A brand promise is multi-dimensional. It defines the brand. It defines the parameters for all development, communications, innovation and renovation on behalf of the brand. It must be a motivating, relevant, differentiated description of the brand experience that you want the brand to deliver. The brand experience is the consistent, trustworthy delivery of the brand’s functional, emotional and social benefits relative to its costs (money, time and effort).

Consistently living up to the promise of its experience is the way customers perceive the brand’s quality.  

A brand promise defines the total brand experience.  

Beyond Meat can address its logistical, labor and legal issues. The enterprise can put more money into marketing. But, both Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods will need to relevantly differentiate themselves within the marketplace. Both brands must figure out just what makes them special and important to customers. 

Now that the retail landscape has changed due to the pandemic – with delivery of groceries more ingrained than ever – these two brands must develop and then communicate what it is that makes the different and relevant from each other and in the minds’ of customers.

Want to learn more? Navigate how to satisfy conflicting needs, and look beyond single-minded solutions with the insights and guidance in The Paradox Planet.

The Death of Silo Management

Coronavirus and the Death Of Silo Management

If you spend any time talking about or reading about working from home, you may have noticed the focus tends to be on managing in the new hybrid workplace. Companies are contemplating different workplace scenarios. The office as we knew it will most probably change. There is something else that has changed as well.  

Collaboration is now more than a kumbaya moment. Collaboration is no longer theoretical. You can see the criticality of collaboration in the wealth of collaborative digital tools now available to businesses of all sizes. Using these work tools, mitigates separation and maximizes integration. Many of these have zoomed by Zoom.

  • Microsoft’s Teams has leveraged its synergies with Office and its cloud-computing platform. Teams is pre-packaged in its Business Office suite.
  • purchased the collaborative Slack business product for $27.7 billion. 
  • Google is promoting its newly organized suite of products as Google Workspace. Along with new products, Google’s advertising hypes its familiar options as a valuable collaborative tool. Google Business Email, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Meet are now dished up as a total package for “How teams of all sizes connect, create and collaborate.

When people work apart, the need for cross-functional sharing becomes more apparent. This intense focus on collaboration while working from home may finally be the death-knell for silo management and its evil twin silo mentality. Collaboration is collapsing these corporate killer constraints.

Silo management is the separation of functions where employees protect their area of responsibility from other employees. Silo management means each operational group creates its own insular management. This insularity means that information is not shared throughout the brand-business. 

Organizational silos inhibit the brand-business’ ability to deliver integrated customer-perceived brand value. Silos hamper brand-business growth and governance in these ways: 

  • Silos slow brand-business development. 
  • Silos impede enduring profitable growth of the brand-business. 
  • Silos are dangerous. 
  • Silos create segregation and selfishness.
  • Silos are harmful to brand-business health. 
  • Silos create all sorts of bad brand-business behaviors, such as hoarding information, stopping the spread of ideas, creating internal conflicts and reinforcing the status quo.
  • Silos reinforce the lack of accountability for brand-business results. It is always the other silo’s fault.

Any farmer will tell you that silos are for storing, not sharing. 

Brand-businesses suffer when an organization allows functional isolation rather than institutional integration, as follows:

  • When an organization protects management from risk. 
  • When an organization deflects accountability. 
  • When an organization inflates a single group or a person. 
  • When an organization is less conducive to creativity and collaboration. 
  • When the brand-business mindset is shareholder value supported by financial engineering.

There is really nothing more oppressive than the organizational protectionism of powerful silos.

Pandemic lock downs with work-from-home forced employees to share information. One pandemic outcome is the demonstrated wisdom of shared learning. Shared learning is valuable. There is a significant negative cost associated with information hoarding.

For example, one extremely silo-focused hospitality company discovered that resources were spent on over 100 global research studies on breakfast. Another 50 global research studies focused on fitness and gyms offerings. Each group believed its research was proprietary, not to be shared across geography and function. The purchasing department showed that millions of dollars along with hundreds of hours of time and energy were spent on gaining the same information. 

That kind of unproductive, inefficient brand-business behavior is no longer acceptable

In a Financial Times article on Microsoft, reporter Richard Waters wrote, “On a single day during the third quarter (2020), users of Teams spent 30 billion minutes – an average of more than four hours per person – doing things like participating in video conferences, working on shared documents and reviewing meetings. Given how long it normally takes new enterprise software to take hold, that makes Teams virtually an overnight success, and an important new front door to digital working life.” 

Mr. Waters interviewed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Mr. Nadella believes that Teams is an essential propeller for collaboration. In describing his views on the future of the workplace, Mr. Nardella said, “I think there will be structural change.” This change will highlight the need for software tools provide flexibility “… while still building social capital (and) building knowledge inside the enterprise by bringing people together on important tasks.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that the intense need for collaboration knocked down the barricades between CIOs (Chief Information Officer), their CIO teams and the brand-business’s other functions. The executive vice president and chief information officer at Charles Schwab Corp., the investment firm, told The Wall Street Journal, “As technology teams become more integrated into the business and develop deeper business knowledge and expertise… it leads to technology being at the table much more than in the past.”

Collaboration does exactly what Charles Schwab CIO talks about: having all parties at the table. Or, as writer (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Sometimes A Great Notion) and counterculture figure, Ken Kesey said about the merry pranksters and their psychedelic school bus, Further, “You’re either on the bus or off the bus.”

Sharing across function and geography promotes organizational learning. Shared learning generates new ideas and insights. Shared learning reduces redundancy of resources. Sharing creates internal alignment, leading to enterprise collaboration.

The coronavirus is forcing brand-businesses to make needed changes to the way people work together. One of the most important changes is the death of silos resulting in a new brand-business chapter of collaboration.

The Streaming Wars

Relevant Differentiation Will Win The Streaming Wars

Streaming entertainment is a crowded, competitive category. Cabin fever and closed movie theaters helped exponentially grow the streaming entertainment business. It is about to undergo yet another alteration. Welcome to the new year of content cull.

To satisfy our growing need for in-home entertainment, Covid-19 opened the door to intense showbiz competition beyond what cable providers could offer. We collectively became part of the global Netflix nation.  Other media mavens saw opportunity.  With dozens of streaming options, New York Magazine pointed out some media heavy hitters are now serious challengers to Netflix. Disney, Apple, Amazon, HBO, CBS and NBC have created content-heavy streaming choices. 

Netflix still owns streaming entertainment. Most calculations put the Netflix global subscriber base at about 208 million. Amazon Prime is slightly behind this with a global subscriber base of 175 million. Reporting in The Wall Street Journal indicates that global streaming reached 1 billion subscribers over the past year. 

But, if we learned anything from the pandemic, it is how easily consumers adopt new behaviors and habits. After more than a year, we are exchanging screens for greener scenes, moving outdoors and away from home.  

With the lock-down veil lifted, many of us are now questioning whether we actually need to subscribe to so many streaming options. We are now examining which brands to keep and which brands to ditch. 

The great content cull is upon us. Portfolio paring is a reality. After all, just how many streaming subscriptions do we really need? Among all of the streaming possibilities, which brands are our favorites?

Brand favorability depends on this: which brand offers a relevant, differentiated trustworthy entertainment promise relative to its costs? Relevant means the brand meets my needs. Differentiated means the brand is unique relative to competition.  Trustworthy means the brand will deliver its promised experience relative to its costs. Costs are price, time and effort.

Winning the streaming wars will require streaming brands to articulate their trustworthy promise of their important and unique valuable brand experience. Without a specific brand promise, a streaming brand will become a nice-to-have but generic choice.

Currently, blockbuster movies along with archived film libraries and new original, made-for-streaming content are the preferred ways brands achieve relevant differentiation.  

For example, Disney+ has its newest films and its evergreen portfolio of classic animated feature films. HBO Max has the established HBO name, its reputation for quality creative and its portfolio of Warner Brothers cinematography, due to AT&T’s 2016 purchase of Time Warner, now WarnerMedia. Newcomer Paramount+ is banking on the recognition of its familiar mountain logo with its extensive, deep library of films, old and new. Formerly CBS All Access, along with its film archives, Paramount+ is home to CBS, nick, Comedy Central, MTV, BET and the Smithsonian Channel.

In the streaming service crowd, only discovery+ offers a desired, unique brand promise that reflects an entertainment-road-not-taken. Rather than tout a film-based library, discovery+, is betting that people want familiar, trustworthy comfort-viewing.  To stand out in the pack of streaming brands, discovery+ provides a streaming brand alternative.

Discovery+ believes its current day-to-day content is as original and compelling as it gets. Discovery+ has the advantage of its unique and sometimes weirdly fascinating programming covering cooking, home improvement, reality TV, travel and animals. Discovery+ has a portfolio including Discovery, HGTV, OWN, TLC, Food Network, HLN, Animal Planet, Science Channel, diy Network, History, A&E and Cooking Channel. Discovery+ is home to the wildly popular”90 Day Fiancé”, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives”, and “Fixer Upper”, for example.

In an interview with The New York Times, David Zaslav, CEO of Discovery, parent of discovery+ said, “Almost all of the players in the (streaming) business moved toward scripted series and scripted movies. They went to the big stars and the red carpet. The big shiny object. We’re not so shiny and we don’t have a lot of red carpet.”

The New York Times story highlights discovery+ as the sort of programming people can have on in the background while doing other things. Described as “ambient” or “passive” TV, discovery+ can be a soothing backdrop where you do not have to follow along.  

Mr. Zaslav added, “ When you wake up and put the Today Show on in the background or put on the Food Network, it’s for comfort. You don’t watch ‘The Undoing’ (the highly hyped psychological drama starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant) while you’re cooking dinner. But you do put on Guy Fieri or ‘Super Soul Sunday’ or ‘Fixer Upper’ or ‘How it’s Made’ or ‘Mythbusters.’” These shows are what discovery+ calls “real life” (rather than reality) content.

Using a construct for defining a brand promise, here is how Discovery executives appear to be defining discovery+. This is how the discovery+ brand promise is relevantly differentiating itself from its competitors. 

First, what does discovery+ offer me, and why is that important to me?

  • Discovery+ has: Useful content, Content I know, I can listen without watching, I am able to do other things while listening, Content not requiring complete concentration
  • Discovery+ has: Content I love, Comforting content, Comfortably informative content, I feel safe, I feel at home, Content that is easy on my mind

Second, how does discovery+ reflect my values and what is its attractive brand personality?

  • Discovery + is meaningful for me because: I value entertainment that can make my life easier, I appreciate being comfortably entertained, I value information that can make my home more comfortable
  • Discovery+ attracts my viewership because it is: Down-to-earth, Friendly, Authentic, Interesting, Informative, Has my best interests in mind

How does discovery+ support this relevant differentiated brand promise? Discovery+ streams:

  • 55,000 episodes of favorite shows from my favorite channels
  • Content covering home, family, food, nature, adventure, true crime, relationships, science, technology, paranormal and more
  • Exclusive original programming
  • Greatest real-life entertainment and exclusive originals all in one place
  • Affordable $4.99 per month
  • Olympics and other sports
  • And, finally, how confident am I that discovery+ will deliver its promised experience for these costs (price, time and effort)? 

Discovery+ has a lot of high quality competition. But, these competitors will need to continue creating their own expensive proprietary content to survive. Many of these competitors will only be as good as their last blockbuster or original series, continuing to define themselves by these category’s mainstays. 

Having a specific, non-generic, relevant, differentiated brand promise is key for any brand-business success. Only Disney+, essentially an extension of the Disney brand promise, has a relevant differentiator: to create happiness based on its mission to make a safe, high quality, affordable, magical place appropriate for the whole family. But, Disney+ will need to figure out how to make this promise work through its streaming. Just offering the archives and the new blockbusters may not do the trick.

Discovery+ may be small, but it has something the larger streaming brands do not have: a clear and compelling, relevant, differentiated brand promise. As the media magnates gather in Sun Valley, besides focusing on mergers and acquisitions, it would be beneficial if they focused on just what my media brand stands for in the minds of customers. 

(As a coda, AT&T announced that it will merge its WarnerMedia portfolio with discovery+ to create a media behemoth larger than Netflix but with fewer subscribers. Although there are strategic reasons for this, the exceptional nature of discovery+ adds incredible strength to this soon to be formed streaming service.)


In 1994, when Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras wrote Built to Last, they were referring to Visionary Habits of Successful Companies. Their highly influential book focused on the results of a six-year research project into what makes enduringly great companies. Their stated goals were: “to identify underlying characteristics are common to highly visionary companies” and “to effectively communicate findings so they can influence management”.

Companies that endure are iconic; they are studied; they are analyzed; and they are held up as examples of best practices that other businesses should exemplify. The same is true for brands. GE, IBM, Kodak and Xerox are examples of brands that now realize longevity is not necessarily a prerequisite for future success.

We live in a time when replacing goods and services is par for the course. We seem to have no qualms about ditching an old iPhone for a new model, or downloading the latest app, or frequenting the newest restaurant. In fashion, we have fast fashion that by its very nature is meant to be disposable. In automotive, ownership is starting to decline in favor of renting or subscribing: “Why keep something around when I can have the newest model whenever I want?”

With the exception of some durable goods products such as large appliances, there seems to be a reluctance to buy goods and services that are built to last. We appear to prefer obsolescence to endurance. Some brands such as Patagonia have urged customers to keep wearing their old Patagonia clothes rather than buy new ones. But, even in luxury goods, where holding on to a satchel or pair of shoes as the value increases, there are websites where owners can sell these possessions to make a quick buck.

So, it is a surprise that in a past report from The Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything”, we were told to hold on to possessions, some of which are so much better with age. We learned that owning these goods for the long term will enhance our future: we were asked to buy something that “is destined for an estate sale rather than a landfill.” Products identified as “keepers” were luggage, boots, watches and classic home goods. The “The Future of Everything” article reflected one of the major paradoxes of our age: the desire (and hence clash of) for replaceable and irreplaceable.

“The latest and the legacy” is a unique paradox reflecting the wish for innovation/novelty and the need for things that have stood the tests of time. Technology has accelerated the pace of new products and services. We are used to replacing phones, laptops and other digital, smart, mobile devices and connected appliances with new versions on a regular basis. We fear missing the immediate ownership of the latest. People around the world will wait on line, overnight, regardless of weather, just to buy the newest Apple device.

And, yet, at the same time, we seek the authenticity, heritage, customs and legacies of products and service steeped in tradition.  Etsy, the online craft forum, is a paean to crocheted medallion quilts, handmade dangling earrings, knitted Argyle socks, and all sorts of imaginative, high quality craftsmanship. Vintage clothing stores sell authentic outfits from our parents’ and grandparents’ decades. Millennials are buying vintage sound systems to play LPs (even though they are also streaming music from Spotify). The Future of Everything referred to these types of enduring products as “heirloom” just like the tomato seeds sold in those various seed catalogues: those cultivars from gardens of the past, not like those used in today’s industrial agriculture.

Photo by Milad B. Fakurian on Unsplash

Brands have an opportunity to capitalize on the conflicting needs of being in the “now” with living with the “then”.  In the liquor category, Jim Beam and Jack Daniels are establishing their heritage credibility for a modern group of drinkers. KFC is currently making a remarkable comeback by focusing on their traditional, iconic mealtime buckets of chicken.  The familiar, timeless Colonel, and his values are back, but in a timely, humorous, contemporary manner. There is something compelling about revisiting a relevant, repackaged icon right now. Levi’s invented blue jeans. It has an amazing heritage. On its website, the brand confirms its history and its modernity, by being both now and then. Their statement is that Levi’s® Made & Crafted® builds on the legacy of 140 years “by designing tomorrow’s classics using today’s best materials and construction techniques.”

Brands in and of themselves are all about the future. Brands promise a relevant, differentiated trustworthy experience: buy this brand and you will get this experience. More than ever, brands have the opportunity to address our needs for the both the latest and the legacy: brands that are built for now and built to last. In our time-crazed world of now, it is nice to know that there are brands we can hold onto for time to come.

Larry Light in Forbes CMO Network

Larry Light shares insights to help be a beacon of light for brands struggling in a ever changing world dominated by a global pandemic.

Read some of his latest pieces now by clicking on the titles below!

Retail’s New Approach To Saving Retail: Store-As-Showcase

Retailers see small-format stores as the future of retail. Target led the way with small-format stores. Amazon 4-Star stores sell items curated from customers’ ratings, reviews, and sales data. This retail future makes it easy to choose, easy to use, and provides ease of mind.

How Marketing Can Change American Minds About A Covid-19 Vaccine

Trust in government is at all-time low. Many people will decline to take the vaccine. Their minds are already decided. How can their minds be changed?

2021: The Year Of Living Actually And Artificially

Two conflicting trends are shaping the new normal. One trend is our desire for actual products that provide comfort, coziness, conviviality, and contentment. The other trend is our desire for products and services using artificial intelligence and/or virtual reality. 

Demography Is Destiny: The Marketing Challenges Of Pandemic Demography

Covid-19 is changing the demographics of our nation. Coronavirus has decreased the U.S. birth rate while increasing the U.S. death rate. Brands must address this new future of who will be the customers for products and services. 

Looking for a gift for your marketing peers?

Check out our collection of books by Larry Light and Joan Kiddon. They make a perfect unexpected gift for the marketing leader in your life.

See the collection here.

Cover Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

Larry Light: Brand Insights on Pandemic Impacts & More

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Personalization Will Change Your Car Dealership Experience Forever

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Harley-Davidson: Adore Your Core

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Coronavirus Spurs Brand Innovation

As a result of the Covid crisis, there are a lot of innovative ideas being tested in the restaurant industry to keep businesses alive. For example, many restaurant brands now provide meal boxes that offer more than just meals – they are cooking lessons.

Guitar, Pet, Bicycle: Our Need For Therapeutic Experiences

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Environmental Decency Makes Money

Sustainable leadership and business practices influence customers’ brand decisions. In today’s environment, data show that environmental decency “significantly impacts” brand preference and purchase.

The Coronavirus Is Forcing Brands To Change

Arcature CEO Larry Light has recognized some serious implications resulting from the global pandemic and its impact on consumers, from how they work, eat, live and think. Brands, some of which are too big to react effectively, are struggling to keep up with these societal changes.

Read some of Larry’s latest pieces in Forbes on the epic impact Covid19 is having on the marketing world:

The New Age Of I: Isolation And Inclusivity

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The Great Brand Reset: Coronavirus Leads To Fewer Brand Choices

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The Four Rules Of FACE: The Future For Hotels

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Delivery, Drive-thru And Distance: Welcome To The New Disconnect

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Old Is New, Denied Distinctiveness & More: The Latest from Larry Light’s Column

Larry Light sheds light on interesting marketing and branding news in his Forbes column on a weekly basis. Below is a roundup of some of his latest insights. Read them now!″ target=”_blank”>Old Is New: Erewhon, The Whole Earth Catalog, Loop And Blueland

In 1966, a year before the Summer of Love and two years before the original Woodstock, two gurus of the macrobiotic lifestyle, followers of the great George Ohsawa, opened a health food store called Erewhon. Erewhon is meant the title to be understood as the word “nowhere” backward even though the letters “h” and “w” are transposed. It came from the Samuel Butler book about a utopia. One of the fictional Erewhon’s tenets was that everyone was responsible for their own health and wellbeing.

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Land Rover And The Case Of Defender’s Denied Distinctiveness

In January of 2016, after 67 years, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), owned by Indian company Tata, ended production of the iconic and beloved Land Rover Defender four-wheel drive vehicle. The first Defender, aka Land Rover Series, began sales in 1949 post-war Britain. The intended use was for agricultural purposes. The design was similar to the WWII Willy’s Jeep (manufactured by Willys-Overland Motors). Over the course of its 67-year history, Land Rover Series and Defender vehicles reportedly sold just over two million vehicles. As a point of interest, at its 1949 debut, the Land Rover Series was the first four-wheel drive, mass-produced civilian car with doors.

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Home Depot, Alexa And The Paradox Of Do-It-Yourself

In a world of meal-kits, parking assist vehicles, wearable heart monitors, voice-recognition devices, connected homes, networked transportation services, farmers’ markets, delivery of practically everything, Bluetooth, and Task Rabbit employees who assemble your IKEA purchases, what does “do-it-yourself” mean?

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Nextdoor, Brands And The Need For Neighborhood

Neighborhood is more than a geographic descriptor. Neighborhood is a mindset… an amalgam of attitudes and behaviors. Whether it is Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, or the Cheers bar neighborhood is a powerful force. Financial Times once described a New York City, Upper Westside neighborhood toy store that had lasted beyond the demise of KB toys, FAO Schwartz, and Toys R’ Us. The store lasted because their neighbors owned the store and their neighbors worked in the store.

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SpaceX, The Pursuit Of Quality And The Law Of The Diagonal

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space transportation, with the ultimate goal of “making humanity multi-planetary.” SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft.

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Marketing Industry Insights From Larry Light

We’ve rounded up some of Larry Light’s recent contributions to his Forbes column. Read a short blurb below and continue on the the articles to read more.

Ford CEO Retires: Unable To Articulate A Clear And Consistent Vision

It just took three years. Ford’s CEO Jim Hackett is retiring. In May 2017, Ford hired Jim Hackett to be CEO. Mr. Hackett had been CEO of Steelcase, the office furniture company. While at Steelcase, Mr. Hackett joined Ford’s Board of Directors. Mr. Hackett oversaw Ford’s Smart Mobility unit.

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Levi Strauss And Its Good-Better-Best Strategy

Levi Strauss, the 167-year-old blue jeans company, is fast-tracking its brand-business strategy to address our changing retail habits. The venerable brand has a great deal of incentive to do so, as many retail establishments are struggling or are facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Levi Strauss has several plans that focus on how we will be shopping from now on into the future. 

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Coca-Cola’s Brand-Business Rationalization

An unfortunate business outcome of coronavirus is the disappearance of some of our favorite big brands due to bankruptcy. Another outcome is the deliberate, disciplined disappearing of small or local/regional brands or single country brands.

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Keep Nespresso’s Vision Alive

There is a very interesting story from The Guardian about Nespresso, Nestlé’s espresso machine with its colorful, elegant foil coffee capsules. The detailed article tracks Nespresso’s history from its innovative origin to its current situation that is described as “trundling on” without the sophisticated swagger of its early days.

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