I know it's not much, but my 'B' grade in 'A' level economics is one of the things I'm most proud off. That's because two thirds of the course was done without a teacher. Thankfully I was interested enough in it to read, read and read. I still am, so on with the geekery.
Most of the theory in economics books describes the movement of economies from one equilibrium (all things nice and stable) to another. For example, a big change like a tax rise means that everything has to adjust before it can settle down again.
There are two reasons why this is a serious problem- time and complexity.
It's been calculated to take 100 years for systems to finally settle down after shocks.
I'll say that again, relatively big shocks mean companies should expect a century of adjustment.
Just think about the last twenty years - Black Wednesday, The massive boom in house prices, the implications of the pensions crisis, the shift in the UK to service industries. Not only are they affecting what's happening now, there are too many to ever take into account.
Ultimately, most of the economic theory you get in books is wrong. It assumes lots of nice static periods of stability, interspersed with a few adjustments. The truth of the matter is that companies are ALWAYS operating in a state of flux. Things are always moving, adjusting and resetting themselves.
Which brings me to the problem with brand theory.It makes a lot of sense to focus on a consistent framing for what you do and what you say, especially in the light of all those variables going on, but is there TOO MUCH rigidity. If everything is business is in constant flux, where's the sense in sticking to a rigid set of guidelines? By definition, what's right for right now will not be right for next time.
I'm not suggesting chucking out a consistent tone of voice and all that, not one bit, I am suggesting that 'the way you go about things' needs to constantly evolve and adjust too. Your very model (oh how I hate that word) needs to have change built into it. It needs to be ready for constant evolution.
Nature knows a thing or two. Like most ideas, Darwinism is beautifully simple, and it says that organisms survive by constantly adapting to their environment (by the way have you noticed that retail is mainly the environment adapting to the organism!). Those that adapt and move forward live. Those that don't die.
Most companies fail, most brands too. Like those economics books, I wonder if the reason most of them die is this sticking doggedly to the same type of model you find in the books. Not allowing for the simple truth that things are always moving.