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You're fighting for your life....

...inside a killer, thriller tonight (whip out that dance move!)

Ooo.. I am writing after ages. But all good mining takes time - if anyone asks I said it right here.

An excerpt from a book I fell in love with had this quote -

“To begin depriving death of its greatest advantage over us, let us adopt a way clean contrary to that common one; let us deprive death of its strangeness; let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more often in mind than death."

Michel de Montaigne, Essais (1580)

Although this beautiful quote from Michel can be applied to the field of Forensic Pathology, it made me reflect on the various ways in which we are confronted with death. As I write this, we are witnessing the demise of a previous era of workspaces brought on by the pandemic, along with the end of the workforce as we once knew it. Death is a universal aspect of business that not only instills fear in us, but also serves as a motivator. All forms of creation are subject to its inevitability, and our creative endeavours are no exception.

It could be argued that death is often followed by life. As that charming gentleman with beautiful hair and a captivating accent from the Thriller music video once said, "life, uh, finds a way." Haha, I know that's the other one from a certain park. While chaos and death may seem predictable, they often lead to new opportunities for growth and prosperity. In the business world, we have witnessed brands falter and fail, but it's important to remember the ones that have overcome adversity and returned stronger than ever, akin to the protagonist of a thrilling movie.

Let me take you on a journey to a forgotten drawer filled with photographs that may be a little faded and tinged with sepia tones. These images may seem like nothing more than scraps of paper and blurry snapshots, but they once held great importance to our parents and grandparents and now us. These were cherished memories of their weekly or monthly routines. Back then, we would snap photos of a new carrot in our garden or a blob that is our dog running through the house, and yes it was different. We would take our rolls of film to the local store, eagerly waiting a week or two for our perfect 4 by 6 prints to come back. The anticipation of waiting for those photographs, the joy of seeing captured moments, and the laughter at the near misses or silly poses all created a chapter of nostalgia that us 90s kids were lucky enough to experience. So let's take a moment to appreciate those simple moments and the importance they held for our loved ones.

Cause what no one saw coming was that digital handycam that did everything a little better with no hard work attached to it. Soon, the dust on our photographs gathered to turn to sticky pile that once was the cornerstone of our weekends. If we didn’t use those cameras, there is no way the companies can sell them.' In fact, on a very recent trip to a electronic store, I was surprised to know that the handycam or digital point and shoot is not being produced and sold by any company anymore.

Polaroid faced a significant challenge when its product failed to gain popularity, leading to the company filing for bankruptcy in 2008. However, the company managed to bounce back by keeping its business small, sticking to nostalgia, and catering to a small but dedicated group of purists who wanted to relive the experience they grew up with. In the end, it wasn't about capturing a beautiful lion shot in a National Geographic magazine, but about the big album full of amusing photos around the kitchen table, where everyone shared their version of events. Polaroid's success lay in not changing the user experience, which was a significant achievement.

But not always is the market this forgiving. In India, there was a time when spending hours browsing the 40+ aisles of Crossword, the beloved book store, was a favourite pastime. These aisles were filled with books, not with bags and stationery that nobody wanted. However, now these stores are less than half their former size as physical books are no longer appreciated by most people. At that time, comic books were all the rage with every imaginable character book available, and Marvel Comics dominated the market. We would assemble every weekend to read and discuss our favourite comics while the waft of coffee and new books was all around. Less reading meant less selling again. Therefore, Marvel's fortunes took a turn for the worse when it filed for bankruptcy in 1996. But in this moment of death, Marvel learned a valuable lesson that changed the course of cinematic history: producing its own movies featuring Stan Lee's iconic characters and a star-studded cast wrapped up in one giant universe. Unfortunately, what brands often do is lose sight of what makes them powerful in the eyes of their consumers. While sticking to your ethos may be costly, changing it even slightly might be the key to attracting success.

To speak of a brand's death only in terms of bankruptcy would be shortsighted. In today's world, where anything can be cancelled, brands are just as vulnerable. Take, for example, Johnson & Johnson, a company that is far from bankruptcy but has suffered significant damage to its reputation due to the controversy surrounding its baby powder. For many women around the world, the once-trusted product is now permanently tainted. Whether it's a recall of 33,000 bottles or just one, the impact is the same when consumers demand that brands be held accountable for the safety of their products. While J&J has provided 40 years worth of data proving the safety of their products, the mental damage to the brand cannot be undone. It's a kind of death, a rejection that may not be expressed aloud but is felt nonetheless. Will J&J regain the trust of its consumers? Only time will tell, but the Goliath must wait for David's verdict even after submitting years of data to prove their safety.

All of these cases demonstrate that when a brand "dies," it can often be revived through careful analysis and strategic planning. Without a thorough understanding of what caused the brand to fail in the first place, companies can quickly disappear - as we've seen with Blockbuster, Kingfisher, Sony Ericsson, and even the once ubiquitous iPod. Other brands, like Harley Davidson, Gap, Forever 21, and Diet, are currently struggling to stay afloat. However, the cycle of brand life and death is driven by three key factors: the consumer, the brand itself, and its underlying purpose. With the right approach and a commitment to learning from past mistakes, even seemingly "dead" brands can make a comeback - and often sooner than we might expect.

Will return even sooner.


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