Change the brand, change the band

Tomorrow is election day in the USA, and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee is quite likely to lose in his run for the Senate. Not because his constituency doesn’t like him–they do. No, he’s likely to lose because they don’t like his brand. They don’t like the accessories he comes with. They’ve changed their mind, and they don’t understand why he hasn’t. He’s busy running away from something instead of toward it.

Fleetwood Mac (what a segue) was one of the hottest selling blues bands in Europe in the late 1960s. Then they lost their lead guitarist (Peter Green) and wandered aimlessly for more than five years until they added two lead singers and became a very different sounding group. The result was Rumours, one of the best selling albums in the history of music.

The distinction is really interesting (at least to me). If Chafee had swallowed his pride and switched parties (brands), he would have won in a landslide. Same candidate, different trappings. Fleetwood Mac kept the name, changed the sound and reinvented themselves for a different decade.

It’s easy to fall in love with every aspect of your brand and your story, even when your future customers wish you were something else. While it’s often better to ‘stay the course’, it’s never a good idea to do so just because you can’t consider the alternatives.

There’s almost no writing out there about changing your brand. About giving up on some things that you think are important that your constituents hate. Probably because it’s a rare occurence indeed.  A dramatic shift in the way you  tell your story is almost certainly more effective than little changes around the edges.

PS Don’t forget to vote… even if you want to vote for someone I don’t like. We can do better, and we will if more people get involved. (For my non-USA readers: please email your friends in the States and ask them to get on the stick tomorrow.)