One of the reasons I love emerging technology is that the principles around it apply to everything that we create. If you think about it, every product we have innovated over the history of humanity was once emerging technology! Whether you are working on creating consumer products or growing a brand, I think one core emerging tech principle can provide the key to building forever products.
In the beginning, most direct to consumer brands market their products as fresh, cool, hip, edgy, tech and etc in an idea to showcase themselves as something new. Wording the product or the brand this way causes a lot of interest and hype for the company and I think it is a suitable way to start.
After already having an established presence, certain brands have to completely rely on this type of marketing. However, over time all hype has to come to an end, which usually spells the stagnation or even death of that product or brand. When you can no longer market a product as new or fresh, there is one key strategy that can be used in the long term to create an everlasting brand. To explain what that is, I’ll refer to a graph I mentioned in my Is VR here to stay? post, the Gartner Hype Cycle.
I believe all products/brands follow this fundamental representation of the lifecycle of an emerging technology. Pictured below.
I believe when products lose their hype, they reach a stage which is similar to Trough of Disillusionment, which only a few products recover from to move onto the next stage. In the case of emerging technology, this is the stage where our expectations of a technology don’t deliver and long term sustainability is not possible. What happens afterwards is that some true believers continue working on the technology and new benefits come alive, where larger corporations adopt it and the technology slowly becomes mainstream, normalized, and no longer ’emerging’. When we apply this to products, when hype dies down which it will, the key thing here is to change the messaging and strategy from the hip and new in a way as if the product has existed for ages and has become an integral part of daily life. This normalization will make that product/brand everlasting.
THE CASE FOR IT
Out of any brand I have ever seen, perhaps Coca-Cola does this the best. When it first came out in 1886 (how many brands are there in the world which have lasted this long?) Coke was marketed as a new medicine. Since then, most coke ads center around a family gathering together for a meal and there being coke on the table. They never put the attention on the actual product, they never tout it as something new. The key thing is the family dinner there, and the coke just happens to be there like it always has been and always will be.
We also see this in their product placement ideas in movies and shows like Blade Runner or Mad Men or Stranger Things, which are all set at different time periods. Coke is in every single one of them, and the audience automatically understands that Coca-Cola has been around forever and that you can count on them being around even if the world becomes a sci-fi dystopia in the future.
Normalizing builds forever products.