February 2015
Making Change

Jeffrey Spear - President, Studio Spear

Jeff Spear

We're creatures of habit. We take comfort in routines and anticipate seasonal variations. In business, and were it not for consumer obsessions with everything "new," these comforts could last a lifetime.


In competitive environments, the pursuit of the next great idea is unrelenting and the desire for commercial success is indisputable. These conditions create dynamics where unseen or unexpected forces could significantly compromise or destroy your business.

Anticipating these issues and embracing the changes that may be needed will help you maintain operational strength and brand equity.

Knowledge is Everything    The best thing you can do is to keep your eyes wide open. This requires a constant and thorough understanding of what's going on within your industry as well as knowing what's going on in the world. With enough information, you'll be able to anticipate changes in operational technology, impending competitive threats and shifting consumer preferences.

At Studio Spear, this understanding is derived from competitive landscape evaluations and brand audits. A few of our more recent efforts have determined 1) if and how marketplace growth could be achieved; 2) levels of effectiveness from existing packaging and brand presentations; and 3) the most effective ways in which a new brand and/or business entity could be launched.

Explore Options for Change    Assuming you've recognized impending competitive challenges and a need for change, the most difficult decision will be determining how you, your company and your brand will respond. In many cases, operators simply declare that "this won't/can't affect me" and continue as if nothing has happened. Unless you want to exhaust whatever equity your brand has acquired, this "head in the sand" approach is not recommended.

We've learned that change is something that businesses must embrace on a regular basis. In fact, many businesses consider change an essential and vital part of their business. Without a willingness to embrace new challenges and retire old practices, your competitors could easily disrupt your business and damage your brand.

Define Expectations    One of the best recommendations to consider is to look closely at where you are today, determine where you expect to be tomorrow and project where you'd like to be in a few years. While some of this may already be defined in your business plan, the dynamics of change may not have been anticipated. Then make sure that all of your actions are in support of that vision. It's important to keep in mind that change has a dollar value and will probably require funding apart from defined line items in your current spreadsheet. In order to prevent a major financial upheaval, resources for this transition may be found and extracted from existing budgets. How these dollars are spent and the level of return on investment achieved may allow for change with no significant financial impact.

Many of the companies we work with have limited distribution for their products. Their primary goal is to strengthen existing markets, penetrate new ones and achieve a prominent national presence for their brand. With significantly larger territories to cover, new competitive challenges to overcome and larger audiences to reach, it becomes necessary to increase sales and marketing budgets. While levels of discomfort frequently increase in direct proportion to these additional costs, I remind clients to focus on the significant gains and positive changes that are being achieved. In sporting terms, their brand is changing leagues and moving up in rank.

Anticipate Resistance    Change can be risky, disorienting and stressful. It is, however, one of the more powerful activities that successful businesses embrace each and every day. It's how they stay ahead of the competition and keep their brand fresh and interesting.

When Studio Spear is asked to improve brand performance, increase sales and promote growth, we are pursuing change. We are quick to that a certain amount of anxiety and discomfort will be experienced from the process. This being said, our efforts tend to be evolutionary - not revolutionary. To minimize the negative impact of the process, change must be carefully managed and clearly articulated throughout every stage of implementation. Unless the business is failing completely, we rarely throw everything out and start from scratch. We know that equity, no matter how small, has both emotional and financial value and is something to be preserved.

It's important to acknowledge that business growth is a thoroughly researched, well planned, carefully managed and dynamic process. It is also an emotionally charged activity that may require significant allocation of resources to achieve. On the other hand, and when you are confident that you have properly researched, evaluated and anticipated what may be needed, the process becomes manageable and, dare I say it, enjoyable.


If the time has come to overhaul, update and re-invigorate your brand image, or you'd like to change up your marketing program, please call 904 685 2135 - ask for Jeff Spear. You can also contact Jeff via email: jeff@studiospear.com.

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