Brands That Don’t Change Don’t Live

I love words. Some are simple. Some are complex. Some are perfect for a singular moment. Some last a lifetime. And some can mean two different things, just with a minor alteration, like a different letter. Or a space.

Take the word “inaction” for example. At a second’s glance, inaction sounds like motion. Movement. Taking action. Being active. But it isn’t “in action.” It’s “inaction.” And though they are the same eight letters, they are polar opposites.In action is the act of doing. Accomplishing. Achieving. Inaction describes idleness. Being safe. Embracing the way things are. Dormancy. And stagnation.

Being stagnant isn’t good for water. Or for air. And it is absolutely fatal for a brand.

Pablo Picasso once said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” Which, when you think about it, is rather odd for one of the world’s most successful artists, because paintings and sculptures inherently lack movement. And yet, they are the embodiment of motion. And emotion. Take a look at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” Or just about any painting or sketch by Paul Klee. Motion. And emotion.

Yes, I love words. And I cringe when clients say they want me to describe their organization, or their business, as “constantly changing.” That is a contradiction. Nothing can be “constant” and be “changing.” Pick one.

Maybe that’s why change is so important. A brand has to change, to evolve, because a brand has to have life. It may be positioned on a sign or a letterhead or even a lab coat, but it has to be fluid. It has to keep moving in order to move forward – and to carry people along with it. It either moves forward, or it stays the same.

And that is the difference between in action, and inaction.


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