The generation gap

The generation gap

“We can handle the Recession. What worries me more is our ability to grasp the Future.”

These are the profound words of an MD and owner of a large business which has traded successfully for over 5 decades. They have taken on and beaten the challenge of cheap imports from the East, experienced all of the economic downturns over the last half century and also transformed into a broad-based empowerment company. They even went and invested in new machinery last month when everybody else was cutting back. Yet, the MD remained a worried man.

You see, the profile of their clients had shifted somewhat. The blue-chips that they deal with had remained the same, but those doing the buying had changed. This had nothing to do with empowerment in SA. It had everything to do with the age profile of their clients’ buyers, where people expect more in less time. Instant gratification. Time-pressured. More competitive. Sees the world differently. Added value. And so we have the Generation Gap in business. You just don’t truly “connect” if you can’t “associate”.

It is for this reason that more and more small and mid-sized companies are talking about “brands” whereas before they might have viewed a brand as something ethereal or reserved for the mega-corporates. Not anymore. Developing a brand is all about finding out what really connects you to your clients – and delivering. You can call it transforming your business, revitalising your business, whatever you want. But you need to know exactly what you are shooting for. Great product and service excellence means zip unless it’s delivered in a way that is relevant and meaningful.

We held the first of many sessions to come on Saturday morning, where a cherry-picked team of the company in question worked hard in a Brand DNA session, figuring out what it is that will truly connect them to their clients. And you know what? We didn’t talk about “product” or “service” once. Times have changed.

Wherever there’s the will and ambition to embrace the future, your brand will take you there. And so the journey into the future becomes less scary.

Gary Hendrickse
CEO Sherpa
June 2009

Sherpa Brand & Design Agency
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