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Paul.

Thanks. A big resounding Yes to this one.

Too few people appreciate the value of archeological values digs. Or they confuse going retro with going for roots. Your point about brands that have lost their way is absolutely spot on. So often, as CMO after CMO, brand mgr after brand mgr, put their own stamp on the story, the fundamental/essential truth is buried, all but lost to the naked eye.

When no two people in an organization can give you the same clear, concise answer to the question of brand purpose, then you know you have to go back to the beginning. Under those inches of dust, there's truth. Just shine a light on it. It'll be sparkling.

I've been thinking a lot about this as well. You really got what I've been thinking spot on with this sentence: "If you are constantly changing who you are and/or what you stand for, how can anyone come to trust you?"

So explain this to me then, because I've thought about this a number of times. How does Space 150 fit this statement? Is Space's brand truth "change"? Seems like a cop-out if that's the case, but whatever you're doing seems to be working.

Scott - Thanks for taking time to comment and add to it. The revolving door of brand management over time certainly doesn't help things in this regard.

Claire -

Good question about space150. One that I was asked before in regard to the Deepspace presentation, too.

The short answer is that our values/what we stand for doesn't change - just the way we talk about it and visually present it does. Our brand's promise is to remain relevant by constantly evolving with culture. This is also what we promise to do for our client's brands.

If you want to see the answer I had before, which is a bit longer, it's here:

http://paulisakson.typepad.com/planning/2008/09/modern-brand-bu.html#comment-139266506

"If you are constantly changing who you are and/or what you stand for, how can anyone come to trust you?"

on the other hand, if you're not constantly adapting to who your customers are and/or what they stand for, how can you remain relevant?

this relates to something I've wondered about age-specific social network sites: to evolve with your demographic (and potentially change your values in accordance with theirs), or to stay the same and let new users come to you?

back to brands: are there brands that, in your opinion, have successfully undergone an implicit or explicit change in values?

I guess I'm not convinced that lasting brands are those that don't change their core values. but I'm definitely convince-eable.

Stephanie -

Thanks for your question and comment.

Staying relevant has to do with the way you communicate your values, not in changing your values.

Look at Coca-Cola - over the years they've always stood for "Happiness" but the way they've communicated it has changed over time and across countries to be relevant to the people they're trying to reach.

Or, look at MTV who has constantly evolved their content and identity over the years, but has always stayed true to who they are while remaining relevant to teenagers and young adults.

To the counter, how much do we trust a politician who constantly changes their platform to appeal to different audiences versus the politician who remains true to their platform but customizes the way they talk about it to different audiences?

As for brands that have evolved over time with a generation instead of sticking to a set demographic/psychographic, I can't think of any that have done so successfully.

Perhaps this is because it's far easier to create a product or service that fits a specific time/need in people's lives, pick what to stand for and evolve how you talk about it, instead of having to constantly change what you do to follow a group of people.

thanks Paul, I'm convinced ish.

"how much do we trust a politician who constantly changes their platform to appeal to different audiences versus the politician who remains true to their platform but customizes the way they talk about it to different audiences?"

curious, I was actually thinking the contrary about politicians. we've all heard the "flip-flopping" criticism, but on the other hand, how much do we trust politicians who cannot adapt their platform to what citizens want? they're intended to be representatives, after all.

meanwhile, I find it astounding that long-lived brands like Coca-Cola and MTV have managed to stay true to their values, considering that the entire ecosystem of people who make up the companies has changed (er, I think). they must have some sturdy old mission/vision documents. actually, it might be interesting if they dug them up in their vestigial forms (sketches on napkins?) and used them somehow, e.g. as marketing collateral.

you make the distinction between values and communication - values stay the same, but the way they're communicated changes. but I think I think (yes, I meant to write that 2x) that there must be a balance between (for lack of better-thought-out words) commitment and flexibility. commitment to core values, and flexibility to change them. commitment x flexibility kinda = resilience (in the ecological sense). is brand resilience a useful way to think about this?

is changing values so heretical? is adhering steadfastly too extremist?

I actually had the pleasure of interviewing the head of marketing at MTV in January '07 and to boil down an hour of discussions, they base their content by "reflecting our audience and respecting how they view themselves."

It gets a little chicken or the egg, but you get the point. Their strategy is implicit in their mission--they don't really need much more.

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