Last week, murmurs emerged on the tech newswire of Amazon testing a ‘Kindle Unlimited’ subscription service.
600,000 of the world’s best books at your fingertips for under 10 dollars? Sometimes we forget just how much access to info we’re afforded in this era.
But that’s not the most interesting part.
Amazon’s expansion into other markets is indicative of a wider trend within business and marketing at the moment.
We’re living in an age where brands that don’t remain flexible, react swiftly and continue to evolve might not be around for the long haul.
The exact definition of ‘brand’ has always been a sticking point, but generally, we’ve seen it as referencing a company within a certain sector, silo or business space.
This needs to change.
In the digital era a brand is now a fluid concept, not defined by serving one specific market.
When Red Bull can be a publisher, Walmart and Nike can be startup incubators, and Google can be a broadband provider, where does the definition of a brand, company, channel or market space begin and end?
The walls that previously existed from sector to sector or channel to channel are lowering, and flexible digital native businesses are reaping rewards.
Inertia and overt rigidity is now one of the biggest hurdles a brand can face.
Perhaps one of the best examples of this in an Irish sense is Cloud90, a social listening tool with a unique human aspect from the company behind 11890. A forward thinking team saw an opportunity to do more and future proof the business against the growth of online directory enquiries. So using existing resources, they developed a business model for listening with a human funnel, that layered on top of existing competencies.
The ephemeral nature of culture, business and technology means that, within 10 years, sectors like banking, communication and retail will shape shift, impinged by flexible brands from other spaces. Take a look at the below graph from Pew Research, or look at the rise of ‘quad play’ services in the telecoms market.
Going back to Amazon, the Kindle announcement might have been expected, but it further indicates a company that has a voracious appetite for what’s been dubbed ‘relentless expansion of mindshare’. Amazon is malleable enough to evolve with trends, and yet not lose sight of its core model and supply chain. Look at its move into audio books and fresh food retail.
Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram, Zuck’s attempt to control the web by making Facebook the centre of it, and further, Twitter’s move into mobile advertising are two other examples.
It seems the more touch points that a brand controls or at least impacts, the more likely it is to be insulated from the pace of the web, and the more likely it is to gain consideration amongst consumers.
All brands, great and small, can learn from this flexibility.
Indeed, I believe that they must learn from it, or face extinction.