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Old brands – 7 Tips on keeping a brand going

I love old brands, just as I love old eateries in the streets of Taipei and Kyoto. To me, a good brand is not necessarily a giant full of glitz and dazzle. A good brand should be old, with all the badges of honor of survival through decades or more, with people holding on generation after generation, with just passion and love. To me, money does not make a good brand – the heart does.

Jack’s Place celebrates its 56th anniversary this year, which in the old brands category, is NOT an old (enough) brand compared to some really old names in Japan or Taiwan. Still, being a young country, Jack’s Place should suffice to be called an old brand, and should be celebrated for still being around and thriving.

What makes a good old brand?

1) Continuity

There is nothing wrong with a family business. A family that stays together, thrives together, and blossoms. To me, a great love story is not just about couples, but families and clans. Passing on the baton of running a business is an art and a love, and should be honored.

2) Freshness

An old brand should endear itself to customers, and that means appealing to the old who grew up with this brand, and also appeal to the newer generations. This means keeping the brand alive and fresh, with innovations, but also keeping the staple products. Be observant of trends, but honor tradition.

3) Values

No, not ‘value”, but values. A good old brand survives not by being cheap, or by creating new products, but retaining its flavor of values passed down from generation to generation. What does your brand stand for? Make that stick, and NEVER compromise on that value and premise.

4) Agile

Times change, and people survive by being able to bootstrap and stay agile. Expand when you must, and never because you think you would make a bigger buck. Keep fast, keep nimble, keep thrifty. There is nothing wrong by bootstrapping. It is a virtue that will last.

5) Command

There is no need for too much hierarchy, but there is a need for a captain at the helm. You will have a captain, and a co-pilot in the flight deck, but NOT both having a go steering the plane. Honor the chain of command, and it is also wise for the captain to know how best to distribute responsibilities and authority. Apple became the Apple we knew because there was only one Steve Jobs.

6) Communication

Meetings waste time, but good communication saves businesses and jobs. Leaders need to communicate their objectives clearly and simply, and leave the people to get things done. Don’t micro-manage, because your people want to succeed. Trust them.

7) Futureproof

No business can stay static. So plan ahead, blue-team and red-team all your plans, and have Plans A, B, C and more. But stay true to your aim as a owner of such an old brand.

Whether you are an old brand that need some rejuvenation, or an emerging brand planning to be an old brand lasting more than decades, try these ideas.