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Building A Long-Term Brand – Talks At Google

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The average lifespan of companies is shrinking rapidly – 15 years today, compared to 67 years nearly 100 years ago. By 2027, 75% of today’s S&P 500 firms will be replaced by new firms. In an age when your car can outlive the company you bought it from, are lasting brands relics of the past?

Mark Miller, founder of The Legacy Lab, and Lucas Conley, the author of Obsessive Branding Disorder, visit Google LAX to offer a provocative and counter-intuitive argument: in an always-on world that increasingly values overnight success, instant gratification and hyperactive short-term thinking, it is the leaders with long-term ambitions who will get ahead and make their mark. Miller and Conley share stories from legacy-minded brand leaders they met with during the creation of their book, Legacy In the Making: Building a Long-Term Brand in a Short-Term World.

Mark Miller, Lucas Conley: Legacy In the Making – Talks At Google


Mark and I started researching legacy.

Back in 2012. And part of the reason we’d be dead is that we saw a lot of brands and headlines like you see today that were going out of business brands that have been around for a long time. Just this past few months we’ve seen Toys R Us Gibson Guitars. Today Orchard Supply Hardware blockbuster actually had a couple of stores in Alaska still open. Nobody knew about that just closed. And the question arose. What is it about the current context the current market that’s got these longstanding brands that we thought would always be around are no longer here.

And we looked closer at culture and saw that we live in a very short term world right now. People are looking for instant gratification. They’re looking for an overnight success. We celebrate it in the media and when we looked at the brands that were actually building modern legacies we saw different behaviors. So that was actually the inspiration for this book. We’ll be going back and forth Nightfire today talking a bit about this. The stories in the book and will leave sometime at the end for questions about about the material as well. But a wild turn of the market is to share some of the original inspiration for the legacy lab which is where this all started.

Hi Mark. Very Canadian. My parents sent me here from Toronto and said You’re a failed musician. You seem to be filling in advertising maybe you could write a book and make the family proud of you. So the inspiration for this was my parents kicked my ass to write a book. In addition to be working on some business problems for two very iconic brands the Lexus and the Ritz Carlton and one was coming up on being 25 years old and one was coming up on being 30 years old and they had a fundamentally different point of view on how they looked at their age their success where they’d been where they were where they were going. In the case of the automotive company they felt that twenty five years was too young to celebrate all their success. They felt that if they said look how far we’ve come in only 25 years the brands like BMW and Mercedes would say when you get to be 80 90 to 100 years old that’s the moment when you should celebrate. But if you really want to remark upon 25 years old just pat you on the back and say look how far we still have to go. And the iconic hotel companies all things in exactly the opposite way which was at the age of 30. They felt that a 30 year old Ritz Carlton was too old to celebrate that it was far better to be cosmopolitan which was brand new. The 30 year old Ritz Carlton and I found that fascinating because so many startup companies and entrepreneurs would come into our organization and say How do you succeed like Lexus and Ritz Carlton and 25 and 30 years and yet these brands did not know how to make sense of their own success. Concurrently I work at an agency called Team Milan. We work on Lexus and Ritz Carlton and we were going through our own sort of identity crisis which is how we started in 1987. And effectively still a modern agency but the world was transforming all around us. As you know social media companies were behaving like ad agencies and entertainment companies were behaving like ad agencies and ad agencies were behaving like media companies and what we used to take for granted as being certain was changing dramatically and then probably most importantly I was about to become a dad for the first time in my life which was incredibly scary because I could barely take care of myself. So now I’d be having to take care of another life. And I was concerned that the example I want to set for my daughter wasn’t just that I worked very hard but to no end and specific but that I worked very hard toward and that was meaningful and important to me. And for that reason I started looking at leaders of organizations that were building careers and building brands that had.

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