Old Hat

“They are old hat,” he said. “You know, they are a traditional web business,” so said an entrepreneur putting down the competition while presenting his “new” business idea at a breakfast meeting the other day. As I stirred my coffee (cappuccino, extra shot of espresso, skim milk) and stifled a laugh, I was glad that I didn’t have a mouthful of drink….

“Traditional web business”…….think about that!

In fact, think about our business. Traditional? Old hat? Worn and tired?

Or, something else?

Have you been following the press? What is the prevalent business model recently discovered by analyst, enterprise and press alike? Advertising! What a concept! What a discovery—sheer genius…..no?

It’s funny, isn’t it? Channels of communication for hundreds of years existed on the notion that others would pay to reach you in an environment that was important and personal to you. An environment that cut through the noise of the cacophony of message clutter (yes even 200 years ago) and spoke to you, motivated you, pushed you or pulled you to take action, and in general paid for itself and made a profit for its owners/operators.

Yet, we speak with folks today who approach this as new or unique just amazing as the discovery up of penicillin or “The New World” (with apologies to all). And sadly, they believe because they are “digital” or web-based that is enough and because they are no older than last week everyone else is outmoded and obsolete.

So what about our business?

The truth is that every time I spend time with the newly ignorant, I get excited about our business and our proposition.

You see we have a powerful legacy that is not linked to any one channel or to any single form of communication or one type of technology or model. We are focused, at our best and not enough (sorry to say), on people and their needs. We are focused on ordinary folks and their actions and reactions , on business types and their pressures and wants, on households and their wishes…you get the point.

It seems to me our competitive advantage is our Brand, Wunderman and all of its associations and associated companies. A Brand built not on one product or the obsolescence of another, but rather, on the notion of following the customer/client/user/buyer/whatever on their journey. Actionable, intellectual property that is as solid as human kind because it builds on and adapts to the times, needs and driving forces of the societies we live in anywhere in the world.

In other words Wunderman works perfectly well in Dubai and Denmark and Munich and Mumbai or Mexico City or Madrid because it is relevant in each market in its own way.

The other day Lester gave me an article from The Wall Street Journal and had circled, boldly in red ink a quote from one of our clients:

“It’s easy to build a car…It’s harder to build a brand.”
Bill Ford Jr.

And it hit me, it’s easy to create the newest, latest greatest, all problem solving, amazing and absolutely necessary, impossible-to-live-without technological application, but who is going to be solving client problems next year and the next and the next and who is going to be forgotten as “old hat or traditional”….

And there you are. Our business is helping our clients’ build their Brands the way Lester always did— one consumer at a time. And we do it by using the ever evolving but always core consistent Brand that Lester created. So who is really “old hat”……

Think on it……

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