I’m an angel. An angel of death

I’m an angel. An angel of death

Not human death – one of my colleagues looks after that side of things.

No, I specialise in corporate death. I’m in the business of dead businesses, extinct enterprises, broken brands. They send for me when the dear departed is a plc – and I’m a busy angel.

Why? Well, there’s a bit of an epidemic at the moment. Brands and businesses are dropping like flies, and you know what’s killing them? Surprises.

Almost every one of the bodies corporate in my morgue expired with a startled look on its face.

“Oh! We never expected THAT!” …you can almost hear them saying.

“What do you mean – our markets aren’t always going to stay the same?”

“Pardon? Someone we’ve never heard of is going to take away our customers? You cannot be serious!”

“Oops! Our entire product sector seems to have disappeared!”

Now, you might say that no-one can be expected to predict the future, and you’d be right. But it’s perfectly possible to take a sideways-look at your brand and its market and create the future.

All you have to do is notice. Listen for the hints. Catch the clue train, calling daily at a station near you.

Here’s a clue: you can get your teeth fixed at Sainsburys.

Here’s another: a discount supermarket with tiny stores and brands you never heard of has been voted best food retailer.

Here’s another: the world’s first-ever global taxi brand was built with …an app.

Here’s another… no, on second thoughts, you can’t have another. If it’s not obvious now, then save yourself some suffering and come with me.

But if you never want to hear from me again, here’s some advice:

Know that someone who is not in your industry is currently planning to revolutionise your industry.

Believe that, right now, someone out there is aiming to take all your customers away.

Be prepared for the impossible. Accept that the extremely unlikely is almost certain to occur. Think the unthinkable, then base your future plans upon it.

Be bold. Be creative. Be unconstrained by convention or current attitudes. In short, take a sideways-look at everything.

This may be your only chance to invent the future.

So next time you’re in a meeting and you think of something outrageous, and someone else says “That’s silly!” or “That’s against the rules!” or “That would never work…” just remind your colleagues that Apple is the world’s no 1 music retailer, and Facebook will soon be something your mum uses.

Will we meet again?

You hope not…

Now, where did I put Toys R Us – it’s time for the post-mortem…

Steve Yelland

Steve Yelland

Writer and consultant brand and communications strategist, working with blue chip and start-up businesses.