Nancy Reagan, the Buddha, and You: On the future of your brand


The Buddha says, “The problem is you think that you have time.”

Nancy Reagan echoes and expands upon this wisdom, saying, “You learn something out of everything, and you come to realize more than ever that we’re all here for a certain space of time, and, then it’s going to be over, and you better make this count.”

And here we have you. How much time do you have to help your brand achieve greatness? 

You’re One Brand Among Millions

This isn’t a post about your physical well-being, although I certainly hope you’re all taking excellent care of yourselves. This is a post about the pressures your brand is under when the typical consumer encounters at least 1,500 brands a day. And, that’s assuming that consumer doesn’t stop in at the corner grocery store to grab a soda. A simple errand like that raises the number of brands that one individual encounters to over 35,000.

To function in this environment, customers need to develop some level of brand blindness. No one has the cognitive capacity to remember the individual attributes of so many different organizations. They only see the brands that are relevant to them. 

What makes a brand relevant? The relationship the customer has with the brand. 

And, how long do relationships take to develop? You may believe in love at first sight, but, for the vast majority of people, deciding they like someone (and then even further that they love someone) takes some time. Relationships are built interaction by interaction, encounter by encounter. It’s why people date before they marry: they’re trying to discover what life will be like if they commit to their partner. 

Think through the experience your customers have. Is it wonderful enough to make them fall at least a little bit in love with you? If the answer is no, you’re running out of time to develop a relationship with that person. There’s always a competitor waiting in the wings who will see the value in being nicer and providing a better experience. 

The time pressure is real. But, brands often make the mistake of taking their customers for granted. Look (back in time) at RadioShack: There was a brand who should have had fantastic relationships with their customers—home electronics enthusiasts who generally had no other avenues to source the components, tools, and toys they needed and wanted. When CB radios were extremely popular, RadioShack was right in the middle of that boom. And, they were early players serving the home computer market. 

But the times changed and Radio Shack was suddenly in competition with online vendors.

Instead of moving to compete with these vendors, RadioShack stayed where it was—and let’s be real, the Venn diagram describing RadioShack shoppers and early adopters of online shopping have a lot of entirely predictable overlap.

RadioShack ended up losing a real opportunity to build love. And, trust was gone: the customers saw RadioShack as a brand that didn’t align with their technologically progressive values.

In the relative blink of an eye, the hundred-year-old brand was sold off as a defunct brand by REV, which is now using the branding to sell cryptocurrency. 

You always have less time than you think. RadioShack had reason to believe in its stable, enduring nature, but they lost their customers’ love.

What would you have done differently if you were in charge at RadioShack?

What would you do differently now, if you believed your customer relationships were truly vulnerable?

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About Author

BJ Bueno

BJ Bueno has built a reputation based on his insight and expertise into building brands. Bueno founded and operated his own successful advertising agency before becoming a partner in Nonbox, a national agency, and opening Nonbox Consulting in Orlando, Florida. Nonbox Consulting is consumer think tank that offers consumer insight strategies, leadership coaching, brand education and training, and creative development services. B.J. is the founder and managing partner of The Cult Branding Company, a boutique retail consulting and marketing strategy firm located in Orlando, Florida.

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