Home' The Channel Magazine : August 2011 Contents National Newsagent August 2011
Every year Huffingtonpost.com lists
brands predicted to disappear in the
coming year. Number 10 on the 2011
list of brands predicted to disappear is
Finnish company Nokia. In 2009 Nokia
was number five on the Interbrand Top
Global Brands list, which is published
each year in Businessweek.
Nokia has a long history and legacy of
successfully reinventing itself in the past.
Founded in 1865, it moved from being a
paper maker and electricity producer to
manufacturing electronics, then eventually
into telecommunications. You could say
reinventing itself was its core business!
So how does a company that
has survived for 146 years
suddenly end up here?
I’m not sure there is an easy answer.
The company had always maintained some
diversity in its businesses and over time
that has given way to a more singular focus.
That’s fine, of course, until the thing you
are focused on gets superseded, resulting
in a widespread switch to smartphones and
integrated delivery platforms.
Other well-known brands have flirted
with extinction for similar reasons – Xerox
and Kodak are two memorable examples.
If customers stop buying what you are
selling, you have a problem – no matter
how well you keep your promises.
Brands and business are closely tied.
When analysts predict the end of Nokia’s
brand, what they are really predicting is
that the company will become unviable
as a stand-alone entity, and will probably
get bought by a larger player for its 22%
global market share of mobile handsets.
You really can’t separate the two.
There isn’t a business without a brand
and there is no brand without a business.
If you are a business being rapidly
overtaken by a shifting environment,
it’s time to think about what your core
business really is. Nokia seems to have
forgotten that reinvention and adaption
have been in the DNA of the business
since 1865, and that is probably why it is
on the endangered list.
Here’s the rub. Your brand and your
business have three elements. Purpose
and values get lots of space in business
books, but a third element – positioning
– keeps you in step with the current
environment. Positioning – the what, how,
where and who – drives the principles and
practices of the business and brand. That
can, and should, change over time.
In other words, if you are still doing
the same thing you were doing 10 years
ago in exactly the same way, your days
may well be numbered!
Food for thought indeed for the
What does the or
‘newsagency’ brand mean?
“ If we don’t change, our days may
be numbered. ” How can a diverse
group of independent businesses
change simultaneously so the brand is
still relevant nationally? Convenience
stores have developed their brand and
consumers know what to expect when
they go into a 7-Eleven or Night Owl
store. (Milk bars with no brand have long
Newsagency marketing groups have
developed their own brands but there
is a more powerful, ubiquitous national
brand that encompasses all and has
the capacity to keep the independent
‘newsagency’ in the minds of consumers
and where they shop. Lose ‘newsagency’
and each group will be a cluster of a
few hundred branded stores without the
advantage of national reach. That ability
to reach almost every corner of Australia
is one of the main strengths of the
The purpose of the old N brand was
to identify independent retailers who
specialised in newspapers, magazines,
lotteries, stationery and cards. The
new N brand has to mean much more.
How can we differentiate our brand
and maintain relevance? How can we
encourage shoppers to remember the
‘newsagency’ and seek out what we have
Where is the newsagency brand
positioned in the market?
How do we promote that brand?
Who makes up the brand?
Everyone used to know what a
‘newsagency’ stood for. Do they now? Have
we research to tell us what consumers
think about ‘newsagencies’.
What’s the newsagency channel
history? Serving the community – being
the centre of town, knowing the customers
– this is what it will have to build on
It is obvious that the newsagency
brand has to represent more than just
newspapers and magazines, because they
are available everywhere.
It appears from experience here and in
the UK that strong newsagencies are the
central part of their community and that
will be the basis of building a new brand
and changing the way we do things.
As newsagents look to change their
image, Smart Company’s Michel Hogan*
writes about brands that disappear and
brands that reinvent.
THE JOURNAL OF THE NEWSAGENCY INDUSTRY IN AUSTRALIA
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