Businesses should have‘the Madonna factor’

AS time moves on, most companies strive to fulfil the needs of their ever-changing, ever-expanding customer base by altering or extending their products and services.

This makes sense, but the risk is that the values and heart of the business can be lost trying to keep up with what’s fashionable and what’s ‘now’.

Brands or products that become iconic tend to be those that stay steadfast, however much the winds of change howl around them. This is a risk, too, of course, as it is impossible to know what will and won’t withstand the gusts. The ideal is for a business to be like a tree – deeply rooted in its identity, but able to sway in the breeze of what’s current.

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Take Marmite, for example. It has 100 years of history, its packaging has remained virtually unchanged in decades, yet it nods to the now with such things as its limited edition ‘Ma’amite’ packaging during the Jubilee celebrations.

Apple doesn’t have a century of history, but has become successful by updating and refining the same small selection of products, rather than expanding their range exponentially like many of their competitors.

This week, I was speaking to Gay Richardson, who runs Worthing business Style Me Confident. She calls this idea ‘the Madonna factor’ – the need to keep reinventing ourselves as fashion and our lifestyles continually change, as the singer has famously done over the past few decades. In a neat parallel, Gay has stayed rooted in what she has been doing so well for over eight years – helping people look and feel fabulous in their clothes – while adapting to her customers’ changing needs by launching a new way of helping them.

Realising that her clients needed ongoing support with what to wear, as seasons and circumstances changed around them, she has introduced new programmes for them to discover their personal style and then have continuing guidance in how to ring the changes whilst retaining their unique ‘look’. By doing this, it occurs to me, Gay has applied ‘the Madonna factor’ to her own business as well as to her clients’ wardrobes. What are the deep roots of your business? How could you apply ‘the Madonna factor’ to your brand? Come and share your thoughts at or tweet me @coachbythecoast

Check out the new Style Me Confident programmes at