Some start-ups become successful as they cultivate a cult following among a hard-core group of consumers. The brand builds mystique. However, as the firm aspires to grow rapidly, it begins to expand its target market - even to go mainstream perhaps. As it does so, the company brand can "lose its mystique" as Professor Burnett mentions in this Wall Street Journal article. Here are some questions to ask yourself to test whether your firm might be in danger of losing the loyal following that fueled early popularity of the brand:
1. Would some of our earliest diehard customers accuse us of "selling out" in some fashion? What did those early customers once think about us, and how do they perceive us now?
2. How different are our early customers as compared to our newest customers? Do their needs and wants differ substantially?
3. Have we become less authentic over time in the minds of some customers?
4. Have we become less unique and distinctive over time?
5. Does the firm have the same sense of purpose that it once had?