2009 year in review

As 2009 draws to a close, I thought I’d take a quick look back at significant developments of the past year.  2009And what a year it’s been, hasn’t it?!

Last January, I don’t think any of us could have predicted how bad things would get (the economic downtown, collapse of the automotive industry, Adam Lambert’s American Music Awards performance – to name a few of the year’s downers) – nor what the bright spots would end up being (Twitter adoption, explosion of iPhone Apps, and Glee – some of my picks for highlights!)

A stroll through the past year’s brand-as-business bites ™ posts reveals some of 2009’s more memorable moments and movements:

January 5th – “no money, no problem”  I started the year with an optimistic outlook, calling the “brand-as-business” approach “the biggest opportunity for brands” because it transforms brand-building from a discrete, costly, and subjective activity into the most critical way of managing and growing a business.  Little did I know how many leaders would end up completely neglecting their brands for the year.

February 6th – “brand you?”  Thanks to the tanking economy, many people found themselves looking for work.  Pundits pounced on their misfortunes, promoting personal branding as a way for folks to package and sell themselves.  I became concerned that this development might trivialize brands in general, so I wrote this post to remind everyone that brand-building, whether for individuals or brands, depends on increasing the value you deliver and how you do it.

May 3rd – “5 brands we would miss: a series”  Kicking off Q2, 24/7 Wall ran an article outlining twelve brands that were likely to see their demise in the year’s downturn.  I started a blog series which highlighted a few brands from the list and explained on why I would miss them.  It’s interesting to note that only one of the five I wrote about (Saturn) ended up disappearing.

July 9th – “free to be free”  As introduced by Chris Anderson in his  book “Free,” the “free economy” took off this year and commerce will never be the same.  We’re witnesses to tectonic shifts in the way businesses make money and the innovation of brand new business models.  This post outlines my thoughts on how Free should and shouldn’t be used.

September 1st – “starbucks went changin’ — best blogpost revisited”  Starbucks made the headlines several times this year.  From starting the year off on shaky ground, to testing an unbranded re-brand (15th Avenue Coffee and Tea), to introducing VIA an instant coffee product, the venerable coffee chain sparked many a conversation.  Perhaps the most exciting for me came from this post in my best blogpost contest in which the winner stated, “Rather than trying to be all coffee shops to all people, it makes more sense for Starbucks to focus on the core of their brand, and then to make sure that they always do that well.

October 22nd – “brand documentaries”   This post outlined an idea for a new brand tool (brand documentaries which would be used by all brand stakeholders to enhance their brand understanding) and sparked great feedback and new ideas on my blog and on Twitter – and the discussion even continues on today on LinkedIn.  And that’s what’s so remarkable.  It’s encouraging to see the widespread interest in new tools for use in today’s brand context as well as the willingness to collaborate and share ideas in order to create them.  And it’s amazing that we now have the social Web to facilitate this kind of collaboration and dialogue.

October 26th – “the business reset button”  Early signs of a recovery emerged in Q3 and as business leaders started returning their attention to growth, I returned to advocating for a new management strategy – one that’s more in tune with the changing market and optimizes the company’s core operating system in meeting demand.  I wrote a paper and introduced a new keynote presentation on “brand-as-business” ™ the ultimate business reset button.

November 30th – “ode to black friday”  Given the dismal results retailers posted for most of the year, many started this holiday season desperate for sales. I wrote this ditty to express my personal fatigue with their emphasis on deep discounts and deals.  We now know that business has come back at a moderate clip, but I remain concerned about the long-term damage caused by retailers’ over-reliance of sales and discounts.

And this is where we find ourselves now — on a slow and bumpy road to recovery, but a recovery nonetheless.  I hope this recap has shown that, although there was a lot in 2009 that we’d like to forget about or do over, there have been some glimmers of hope and new ways of working have emerged which will propel us forward.  As we close the books on the past year, let’s preserve the best and reinvent the rest.

Hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season!  (brand-as-business bites will resume on January 4th.)

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