Marketing Idea No. 218 – What brands can learn from James Bond

Mr. Bond is not only one of the biggest icons of our world but also an amazingly consistent brand. Think about it. Every bond movie starts with a song in a husky female voice where the name of the film is embedded into the song. The film starts with Bond walking toward his right, then all of a sudden turning left, taking aim at the camera and shooting, then blood covers the camera. Then there is the signature tune, the gadgets, the larger than life villain who always wants to take over the world, the voluptous and often mindless bond girls, the catchphrases, the drink which is always shaken not stirred – all of these mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But to marketers, these symbolzes consistency. Its the kind of consistency through rituals and re-enforcements that builds super brands.

Thats why when James Bond wanted to redefine itself, there was a huge controversy. The hard core fans who followed the brand loyally for decades were aghast. This is not James Bond! Where are the gadgets? But with changing times, James Bond did change. I guess he had to. Cold war is no longer relevant. The new villains of the world are terrorists who want to blow things up. Spies are no longer suave and charismatic, but gritty and physically well built like Daniel Craig. Bond girls are no longer ornaments. They have an identity and they fight the good fight side by side with their guy. And then ofcourse competition was looming. Jason Bourne suddenly looked a lot cooler and realistic than the often over-the-top James Bond. So Bond changed.

James Bond changed and did it smartly. It kept its soul intact but redfined itself for the new age. So not only he held on to most of its old fans, but created a new sets of fan. And thats the whole idea of this rebranding/redefining saga. Brands should not wait till their appeal started to look old to change. They should change, while they are still on top of their game but when they started to feel a turnaround just up ahead in the road.

So there are two lessons that brands can learn from James Bond. They can learn that consistency, not swift changes, build great brands. But they can also learn that spotting when change is necessary and then acting on it is what keeps great brands great for a long period of time.

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