Let’s play a game.
Imagine you are the chair of the board of family-owned Black & Decker. Just about every American in the country knows your company by name. You have a well-earned reputation for quality and durability with a brand-strength rating ranked near the top with Coca-Cola, Walt Disney, and NBC. You sell superior products and have an exemplary, top-notch sales force.
Now imagine for one moment that a recommendation is being made by your own team to abolish the Black & Decker name from the professional tradesman category.
Did I mention that 98 percent of tradespeople are familiar with your brand? A brand known in the minds of Americans as a brand of high quality and durability? So what’s the problem?
Black & Decker’s popcorn maker.
You see, just under 20 years ago a construction site conundrum had presented itself as Tradesmen (and their fragile make up) wouldn’t be caught dead on a site lugging around the same brand that their spouses regularly used at home. The penalty was constant teasing on the tools they had on their hip.
As yes, male ego and their own perceptions of what it means to be a man.
So, even though the Black & Decker tools remained a superior product, a majority of rough-and-tumble types were afraid to arrive at a job in fear of being mocked by their peers. We have drilled squarely into what we call at Courageous, a perception fear.
Black & Decker knew it couldn’t overcome the anti-advocacy that was happening on construction sites. Even with a high-quality power brand to match its high-quality power products, the negative word of mouth made a dent in the company’s business. In fact, its professional trade segment was floundering. To overcome this perception, Black & Decker decided on an almost unthinkable, yet calculated and courageous option.
Already the owners of the brand DeWalt, a company respected by tradesmen for the radial arm saws it produced, Black & Decker re-imagined the industrial power tools space by bringing DeWalt into the trade category, ultimately replacing itself.
The internal team had gathered deep knowledge wherever it could that confirmed this decision. They talked at length with industrial tradesmen about what they needed and didn’t want on construction sites. The more the team learned, the more it believed it could credibly and successfully introduce DeWalt to tradesmen.
With a perception fear like no other, Black & Decker began to take itself out of the trade game for good. Many felt that DeWalt, as an American brand, could play well on construction sites across the country and had a shot to be an instant hit that could hammer down the sales of Japanese leader Makita.
They were right.
Dropping the Black & Decker name for DeWalt led to a consistent rise in sales, jumping from $60 million in 1992 to an astronomical $1 billion in 1999. That’s a serious Return On Courage !
Black & Decker never looked back. With the help of DeWalt, has bulldozed its Japanese competitor ever since.
Most companies are reactive or inactive when it comes to fighting a futuristic business fear. The onus is on the day-to-day, so long-term thinking takes a back-row seat. It’s time to flip that thinking. Every company should put in the hard work, process and resource now to proactively identify a potential daunting fear that could break their business. Not just because fear leads to growth, but because it’s better for you to take down that fear before it takes down you. In essence, put a plan together to cannibalize your existing business. Remember, what got you here will not keep you here. Make time to work on your tomorrow and start today.
If you would like a step-by-step process on how to unlock courage, creativity and innovation in your business, pick up my book Return On Courage at Amazon. Or, reach out to me directly—I’m happy to share more about the steps we take to transforming your business into a relevant, thriving Courage Brand®.
Ryan Berman is an author, keynote speaker and the founder of Courageous; a create-the-change company that builds and leads Courage Brands®. Ryan has helped install courage in the stories and culture at Google, Kellogg’s Europe, charity: water, Major League Baseball, Snapchat, Johnson & Johnson, Cereal Partners Worldwide and US Ski & Snowboard. His book ‘Return on Courage’ shows how during these courage deficient times, courage is a competitive advantage for those leaders who choose to unlock it. Berman also has his own altruistic Courage Brand called Sock Problems: a sock company that “socks” different problems in the world.