As we look forward to the year ahead, we are excited to see how established brands will implement innovative strategies to stay at the top of their fields. Influential business blogger Seth Godin urges professionals to transform their businesses by being remarkable; we look forward to what these consistently remarkable brands will think of next:
1. Apple – Widely known as the international leader in tech innovation, weakening demand for the iPhone5 has many people wondering how Apple executives will remedy the situation. Apple released its fiscal first-quarter results on Jan. 23, missing consensus estimates and sending the share price plummeting 13%, on top of earlier declines, reflecting skepticism about the company's growth potential. Apple has not reported a drop in quarterly earnings in nine years and many analysts believe the company is losing ground to Asian smartphone rivals. Time will tell how CEO Tim Cook will redirect the company; despite lousy stock market news, the brand experience remains largely untarnished as products, social hype, packaging, in-store decor and clever advertising continue to propel the brand forward. And as of this writing, the share price continues to rebound, suggesting the price volatility is a poor indicator of the brand’s overall strength. The tech world is buzzing this week with unconfirmed reports that Apple product designers are working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad so we’ll be looking out for more news on that.
2. Hillary Rodham Clinton – You may not think of her as a brand in the traditional sense of the word, but in some ways she certainly is. Throughout her very public life, she has been very deliberate in the choices she makes for herself and her career. As the Obama administration ushers in several new Cabinet members, many people are evaluating the job that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done. In a recent Reuters blog, Michael O’Hanlon writes about “Assessing the Resiliency of Hillary Clinton,” pointing out that she is “probably the most powerful woman in the world” and most important in forecasting her future moves, her “work ethic was remarkable.” (Kate – this last sentence doesn’t really make sense to me…is it missing a word or two?) For now, we can only wait out her inevitable period of rest before she reveals future applications for this impressive work ethic; if the past is any indication, she isn’t likely to take much time off.
3. Starbucks - Starbucks has become a mainstay of the affluent American’s daily life since the company launched in 1971 and they remain committed to staying ahead of the competition. This innovative company kicked off the year by introducing a reusable cup that an estimated 28% of Americans have already purchased or planned to purchase. The coffee giant is set to make millions off this novelty, between sales of the cup itself, the free advertising provided and less trash for the stores to remove. But the type of plastic used (#5) is not easily recyclable, and the cups only last about a month so they’re not quite as eco-friendly as they seem; we’ll be watching out for environmental backlash as one motivation for a product Starbucks is sure to improve. There are also kinks to be worked out with their new Verismo line of single-serve coffee machines, although they sold more than 150,000 in fiscal Q1. CEO Howard Schultz recently told analysts, "We remain committed to attaining leadership in the single-serve category, and I can tell you today that with Verismo we are in the nascent stage of building a multi-billion dollar platform for Starbucks over the long term."