Well, what do all these mean actually?
Hindsight is about the past. If you are an experienced and seasoned brand professional, you have a lot of experience in your cache. You learned a lot through real-time experience. You know what worked and what failed, including reasons why strategies failed. You manage by the wisdom that “history repeats itself”, so you believe that learning from the past and acting based on experience would bring success to your brand at present. While some truth is in this philosophy of brand management, there is a big problem as well. This is similar to driving a car while looking at the rear-view mirror all the time. Of course, you need to look at the rear-view mirror more often than not, but solely depending on the past has its own hazards waiting ahead. Situation changes in brand management environment, and judging the present situation with that of the past may lead to serious misjudgment and wrong strategies.
So you need to wake up and beware of the present. Insight is about deeper understanding of present situation as well as customers’ minds that would yield competitive edge to a brand. This is probably the reason why most perfume brands would sell at a much higher price than its actual cost of production. High price signals high quality and prestige in consumers’ minds. Perfume is not only a functional product, but also an image-yielding product that puts some favorable personality traits on persons using it. This is what we call unfolding customer insights- getting deeper into customers’ minds to understand both its expressed and hidden motives rooted in their souls. This insight is tremendously affected by CHANGES in culture, technology, lifestyle, demographic composition and psycho-graphic profile of customers. Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 BC – 475 BC) rightly pointed that, “there is nothing permanent except change”. This is so true for technology driven businesses today! While hindsight is essential to understand this change in the current scenario, depending too much on hindsight in strategy formulation might also prevent you from understanding evolving customer insights and finding out creative solution to address these changes.
Is “brand insight” enough for a brand’s success? Well, the equation is not that easy. Whether present “insight” would bear fruit today as well as tomorrow, is a hypothetical question. Not everybody views and explains possible future results based on current strategy in the same way. There is no magical crystal ball to look at and say that the current insight will continue bearing fruits in the same way in years to come. Since CHANGES can result in morphing of “current insight” into “future insight”, here comes the importance of foresight (future insight). How skilled are we in predicting the future? How Steve Jobs predicted the death of PC and came up with futuristic products with enough craze in the market? How come Tim Cook , successor of Steve Jobs, is having hard time with Samsung? What foresight can save Apple in the long-run?
So the bottom line is, you need all these three elements in different proportions: hindsight, insight and foresight in your brand philosophy to be on the top of market. In my humble opinion, while you can be trained to have all these three qualities engrained in your thinking process, it takes more than training and education to be successful as a brand manager. It is not about knowing how to juggle three bottles at a time, but about injecting unique and personal creativity in the same juggling show that impresses others while you play with the same tools. As someone rightly pointed, “winners don’t do different things, but they do things differently.”
It is up to you how you prioritize and make a winning combination of hindsight, insight and foresight. But only the creative combination that matches with the present and future situation will ultimately win.