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Stability in Motion

Khyati Sarang

Strategy Planning Director

Wunderman Thompson

Khyati.Sarang@jwt.com

Stability in Motion

Challenging the paradigms of stability

Stability by its very dictionary definition is an ability to remain unchanged. But let us first understand: what does stability do for a brand? Stability helps brands seek more measured, disciplined, and purposeful actions. Yet stability must allow for the exploration of newer options and the creation of new paradigms.

Stability means static, straight-line growth. Note the term ‘growth’ remains an essential part of this stable performance. Without growth, stability can quickly come to mean stagnant and stale, ringing death knell for brands regardless of their age.

Changing times call for a nuanced understanding of stability

Irrespective of the age of the brand or company, stability is no longer defined simply by a positive cash flow, but is rather an expression of how smoothly a brand can maneuver through constantly changing world around us. As described in the Wunderman Thompson global report ‘The Anxiety Economy’ - political, technological, and environmental upheavals are causing feelings of panic and helplessness worldwide, but they are also pushing consumer awareness to new heights.  

This awareness goes a long way in creating a level playing field for brands irrespective of their age. But this new playing field comes with a catch. Brands today are expected to move beyond simply solving category issues, to providing solutions for larger world problems – issues like global warming, sustainability, recycling, community cohesion, gender and color issues, culture preservation, and managing the downsides of technology.

Embracing the idea of ‘stability in motion’

Success lies in brands’ ability to constantly move forward in the face of change. It is not about having a stagnant long-term vision, but rather a constantly evolving vision.

Stability, in this essence, is not the ability of a brand to remain unchanged over time, but an act of constant evolution and motion.

As Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently remarked in a speech, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again”. Sooner the brands embrace the concept of ‘stability in motion’, more likely they are to win customer love and trust they need to survive and thrive.

How does this evolved idea of stability impact a brand’s life cycle?

What ‘stability in motion’ does for a younger brand’s lifecycle is expand the ‘growth phase’ before the brand reaches maturity and possible decline. Just as importantly, ‘stability in motion’ has the potential to provide established brands approaching maturity with a real shakeup, giving them the chance to launch another growth phase curve.

Facebook (15 years), Google (20 years), Amazon (25 years), Apple (43 years), Nike (55 years), and Coke (127 years) are just a few of the brands that have successfully demonstrated over the years how stability lies in motion. They have proven that age is just a number when it comes to winning brand love.

Putting ‘stability in motion’ into action

‘Stability in motion’ is achieved by becoming more agile, less capital intensive, more customer-centric, and technologically future-forward. And while younger brands have the advantage of agility, brands that are old-timers in the game can derive their edge from experience, leadership, and an eagle-eyed focus on the evolving future.

Below are some of the things to keep in mind while brands grow into the idea of ‘stability in motion’:

  • Brand stability is not an end game, but an ongoing signaling phenomenon
  • The pace of change in your brand world must be directly proportional to the pace at which the world around is evolving
  • ‘Stability in motion’ is a state of relative constancy with no room for stagnation and complacency

In the end, ‘stability in motion’ is not a mere idea. It is a reality with a possible potential to guide present and future strategy of the brands and how they interact with their consumers in an ever-changing eco-system.

  • The pace of disruption and innovation is accelerating at an alarming rate.
  • Consumers are anxiously seeking to navigate this storm of unpredictable and disruptive political, economic, and environmental currents.
  • Brands that solve for world problems beyond just category issues are seen as stable and sustainable over a period of time.
  • It is the ‘Age of the Customers’ – they decide which brands survive and which don’t.