Awhile back I read HBR's Breakthrough Ideas for 2007 summary and one jumped out at me. It's an idea that confronts a core assumption about brands and marketing. The assumption that consumers will migrate into a given brand (based on their age, lifestyle, lifestage, etc.) and then migrate out of it (e.g. no more Pampers when your baby's grown up). From the article summary:
The big problem with this approach to branding is that it positively discourages customer loyalty--and, as we all know, it's a lot cheaper to keep customers than to find new ones. To get around this problem, we propose that companies like L'Oréal consider a new approach. Instead of seeking to build immortal brands that generations mature into and then out of, they could create brands around a given cohort of customers. As the customers matured, the brands would evolve with them. The aim would be to match the needs of that cohort at any moment in time. We call this "Harry Potter marketing," after the fictional schoolboy wizard who grows older with his readers.
Read the whole thing at the link below, in a section called Brand Magic: Harry Potter Marketing:
Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum is Grand Opening in New York. It's a storefront in a perpetual grand opening status. Every one-to-three months they change the business altogether to ride the wave of novelty and buzz. Currently they're configured as New York's only drive-in movie theater. They have an old convertible that seats six at a time. The thing is, they've been booked solid and have been doing the drive-in theater thing for four months and their schedule goes through January - much longer than their stated longevity for each identity.
Have they been too successful for their own good? They may have found a profitable business (drive-in) by accident. It will be interesting to see how this model pans out over time.
These two models tinker at the fringes of what is assumed to be constant about a brand. Great to see.