THE TRUMP EFFECT – Established brands beware

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re living in the age of the disruptor. Across most of the developed world, a new anti-establishment zeitgeist has seized the taken-for-granted middle class, as they reach the end of their tether with unfulfilled promises.

Whatever your view of the US election, Clinton, the embodiment of the arrogant, wealthy, upper-middle-class political establishment, was turned over by a plain-speaking man who refused to play by orthodox rules.

Earlier the same year, the pompous and bureaucratic European Union was given a wake-up call when the Brexit referendum went against it.

At a time of rapid and constant technological progress, which ignites the development of new social habits and expectations, people have learned that saying goodbye to the old ways is often a good idea.

In no time at all, Uber has become a new byword for taking a cab. They’ve done this by leveraging technology and stepping over the established methods.

Taxi firms and local governments are left playing catch-up, realising that rapid change is needed to maintain a competitive environment in future.

Tesla, in short order, has not only begun mass producing electric powered cars with a longer range and higher performance than many petrol driven vehicles, but simultaneously disrupted the age-old franchised dealer method of selling them too. And there’s a waiting list…

This has forced major, established brands to rethink their positions, with Volvo even announcing a nearby date when they will switch to electric-only production.

The ‘Trump Effect’ then, is a combustible combination of a heavy disenchantment with the status quo, and a growing awareness that very often, the grass actually is greener when you leap over the fence.

The great significance is that this phenomenon is most observable in the socio-economic group with the most disposable income. They are the group which buys the cars, shops for the food, takes out the insurances, signs up for the internet, goes on the holidays…

All established brands should take note. All newer brands which emulate established brands should also be aware.

In this part of the 21st Century and for the foreseeable future, brands need to honestly question:

  • What does your brand REALLY mean to people (not what would you like to think it means)?
  • Do you feel that your brand’s past success puts it in an unassailable position?
  • Are you overstating the capabilities of your product or service (even slightly) to appear more competitive?
  • Are you generalising the capabilities of your product or service because you don’t think the specifics matter to people?
  • Does every single department of your company understand what your brand represents and do your people actually apply this knowledge?
  • Are you communicating with customers and would-be customers, with absolute clarity and purpose?

The truth is, that to guard against losing business when your market gets disrupted, or even just to gain a clear edge over competitors with a similar product or service, at the root of your brand, must lie the honesty and integrity that fulfils your promises and makes consumers unshakeably loyal. Most importantly, that knowledge must reach your customers – past, present and future.

Fizzbuzz specialises in Branding and Marketing Communications, with offices in Australia and the UK.

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