Some brands evolve like wine and become better over time. While others, improperly cared for, become spoiled.

evolution_wineOf course, this is nothing new. Inattention to detail is often the road to marketing ruin.

But in our current social media infused culture of instant gratification, consumer expectations have been raised to a level such that, if you are not evolving in a steady fashion, making your brand better vs. older with age, your downward slide is a bit more visible than ever.

There are other evolutionary parallels between brands and wine to learn from. From cultivation to crushing to barrel aging, to bottling, and finally to opening, decanting and pouring… the making of a great wine is an arduous process. But there is one supremely critical element that dictates how wine evolves; oxygen. Wine, like brands, needs fresh air to evolve.

And that’s where the true parallel begins. Just like wine, brands achieve their best when nurtured in an environment where they are able to breathe and grow. That process can be as simple as breathing a bit of new life into a brand. Or it can take the form of a total resuscitation. Regardless of which end of this evolutionary spectrum a brand might be in, here are five lessons learned from fine wine to help even the most jaded brand approach things in a fresh new way.

1. Getting better with age – With fine wine, vintage can breed authenticity. But it can also lead to complacency. So stay true to your roots, but don’t rest on your laurels. In this market, we all know that age does not always come before beauty.

2. Embrace ephemerality – Wine is alive, evolving every day. Same for brands, and the environment that surrounds them. Case in point; today, everything is media. And it changes constantly. So brands need to change with it. So try new things at POS, or via mobile. Maybe, dare we say, check out Vine?

3. Listen to your audience – As with great wines, the audience that buys them is constantly changing, too. To stay in tune with their evolving needs, brands require constant check-ups. So test, learn, and adjust. Don’t be afraid to try a new varietal, it might be your next big hit.

4. Packaging and identity matter – There’s never been a time when great design was as important as it is today. A standout wine can languish on the shelf, while the right label can make an everyday wine leap right into your customer’s hand. Enough said.

5. Let it breathe – As noted, brands need fresh air to stay relevant. So keep your ideas and content current and creative. Remember, there are a lot of bottles on the shelf to choose from.

Of course the final connection between evolving brands and wine is to enjoy Everything in Moderation. You may feel a need or the pressure to change your entire brand. But gradual evolution is typically more effective than an overhaul. As with wine, too much of a good thing can make a brand groggy in the morning.

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