Raise your hand if you heard this – or perhaps even wrote it – sometime in the past couple of weeks: “In 2013, I’m going to eat healthier and get in shape.” All of your hands should be touching some sky, because all of you have at least one of these people in your lives. It’s the most common New Year’s resolution, and it’s grounded in something much simpler, much more fundamental to our collective psyche.
Not to be dismissed as some flippant turn of the page, New Year’s has become a time for self-improvement, a blinking red light that prods and pokes and begs for transformation. But self-improvement doesn’t just apply to diets and bench presses. How’d your brand do in 2012? Are there things you’d like to change for 2013? Sure there are. You never settle. But before you get rolling, remember this:
Change is exciting. Growth borne out of change is even more exciting. But if there’s one thing we’d like to see change in 2013, it would be that more brands stay true to their roots. Remember why you started your brand in the first place, and never waver from that mission.
We live in a world of instant positive reinforcement. We can go anywhere, talk to anyone, do anything with the touch of a button. Devotion to a brand has become commodified by Facebook ‘likes’. And anymore, the mere success of a brand is being measured by how many ‘likes’ it has, how many ‘follows’ it can garner. The natural process, then, would be to make a change to the brand to accumulate even more ‘likes’, and so on.
This is where the train veers off the tracks. This is where we see brands lose themselves amid short-term growth. As ‘likes’ pile up, the need for more ‘likes’ grows, and suddenly the brand is shifting and evolving in the name of being ‘liked’. There’s a desperation here, sure. But there’s also a loss of self, a loss of the reason the brand was created in the first place. And THAT’S the reason people initially responded to your brand. Truth breeds loyalty. So find yourself again. Or if you’re just starting out, stay true to your brand’s self, and resist all temptation to change in order to be liked (virtual or otherwise).
Think of the people in this world you love the most. Do you love every single part of these people? Of course not. Because you know their flaws, and you know their flaws because you know their ‘real’ selves. And because of this transparency, because you know the ‘real’ side of them, you love them even more.
Bottom line: Nothing truly great ever comes without pain. Embrace the pain. Resist the urge to go for the easy ‘like’ and stay true to yourself. It takes time to cultivate a true following. But once you do, you’ll never look back.
Here's to a great 2013.