Fast change is not always great for your brand

Published On
March 18, 2024

BrandQuest had frequented our local CBD coffee shop for over 3 years.

Apart from a great dose of caffeine when needed – the café provided an ideal meeting place for Clients and we were always made to feel like ‘valued customers’ by the owners, three intrepid brothers who went out of their way to make us (and our Clients) welcome at all times.

So, when we were told that ‘the boys’ were selling out and starting over again in a CBD location we felt, dare I say it, almost abandoned – “what…you’re up and leaving us?”

They did all the right things of course. They assured us everything would continue as it had, they introduced us to the new owners and the manager and explained to them how ‘special’ we were as Clients.

Make no mistake this business was a very financially sound and profitable one, and we’re assured they were paid a premium price for their hard work over many years. So ‘good luck’ to them for gaining some serious financial rewards for their hard work and excellent customer service.

Would you like a revolution with your coffee? How to ruin a brand in three short months.

In short, the new owners decided they knew better than their previous experienced owners and immediately began ‘changing things’ - not gradually over time but abruptly, overnight – a new menu here, new pricing there, new tacky signage here and new staff there, new seating layout here….and so on.

From our office vantage point across the road, we could physically witness the dwindling customer numbers, the empty tables and seats at peak times and the many previous ‘loyal customers’ were voting with their feet…daily.

Three months later and the new owners were wanting to pull out of the deal and invoke their legal rights in-line with the sales contract stating expected revenues, profits etc.

They just didn’t realise that in their rush to put their own stamp on their business, they had literally “thrown the baby out with the coffee”

Now, just 4 months after selling, the three brothers are back - managing both their new café and thankfully for us, their original café - having restored all those familiar brand assets that we and so many of their other loyal customers took for granted.

And as a result, their loyal customers are back.

Change your brand behaviour at your business peril.

Now it might only be a café and we might only purchase our coffees, boardroom catering and the odd lunch from the cafe. But so did hundreds of other businesses and customers, and the lessons to be learnt for new owners (or new managers) of any brand are as relevant to big brands as they are for smaller businesses.

Don’t ‘change’ for ‘change sake’.

Ensure your customers are involved in any change – ask them, talk to them, and if you must, research them.

A basic human trait is that we are fearful (or suspicious) of change.

Therefore, evolutionary change is preferable to revolutionary change.