These Companies Understand What Makes Them Great. Do You?

Last week, I spoke a little bit about great companies and brands and some of the things that make them great. This week, I want to look at mistakes two great companies made.

Probably the greatest mistake a modern company has made with their brand is Coca-Cola’s introduction of New Coke after 99 years under the original formula. Coke followed consumer data that said they should taste more like… Pepsi. The monstrous consumer backlash embarrassed Coke to revert back to the original formula, and they missed the opportunity to market their 100-year anniversary.

Cadillac was once “The Standard of the World” and had such a lock on excellence that the best product or service in a category was called “the Cadillac of” that category. But that reputation could not survive years of inferior products, including the obviously unworthy Cimarron in the 1980s, and they are still trying to rebuild it nearly 30 years later. The best example of something is now often called “the Lexus of” the genre.

When you’re successful, it’s important to understand why you are successful. What you think you offer may not be what your customers expect of you. Coke was not iconic because it tasted like product A or product B. Coke was iconic because it was the original, and when they couldn’t say that anymore, it was just another can of pop.

Cadillac was not successful because they made an expensive car. Cadillac was successful because they made an excellent car. When they no longer made excellence, they just made expensive Chevys. And Cadillac customers went somewhere else for excellence.

Great companies understand what makes them great. What makes you great?

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