Maureen Roger’s got a great piece up on here Pink Slip Blog in which she cites an article from US News and World Report that notes that there is a lot Bruce Springsteen can teach us about managing aging brands. Its a must read (both articles) and I won’t go crazy getting into the discussion. Here’s a taste:
Okay, this was advice for what the CEO of the corporation with the aging brand can do. But most of it holds for those of us who are plain old individual Baby Boomers still hanging on in the workplace, through economic need, the desire to keep working, or both.
I find it interesting that we keep hearing both that the Baby Boomers skills are needed in the workplace, and that it’s hard for people over 50 to get work. (Not to mention that those under 50 want nothing better than to see those hunched, aged backs scooting out the door.)
I can’t help but put this into the light of another rocker, Rod Stewart, who was featured on one of the biography shows the other day. One of the things Rod himself noted was that during the ’80s, his “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” disco days, he drove away what was until that point an utterly devoted fan base. Many never returned, not that it matters if you’ve got all the cake that came from the top selling albums, etc.
My point is this: Springsteen has always understood his brand. He never broke the faith with his fan base, which allowed him to dally in areas which other artists with less devoted fans might have feared to go. He’s not out pimping “History of Rock” albums, or doing anything else that could corrupt the brand. He sticks with that area of expertise in which he is the best: rock music.
So, what’s the lesson? Branding is branding – I’ve worked with a classic legacy brand, and honestly, we were a group who had a history of breaking the faith with our customers. We’d had horrible screw ups over 30 years, and even worse, we’d seriously overestimated the amount of crap our customers were willing to take from us. And the unfortunate truth was that they had every right to expect us to “do it, baby, one more time…”
Even if the organization is able to change, you’d do well to keep this in mind: customers may forgive, but they never forget.