Changing in The Dark
There is always a risk in changing. Sometimes it's possible to measure the risk and calculate the value of taking or leaving it, but sometimes changes are made in the dark-- the risks are unmeasurable or unknown. At the heart of all customer, fan, and audience reactions are a slew of stored up emotions, expectations, and desires. Psychology can be a useful tool in marketing, but unfortunately psychology cannot ascertain the future or perfectly predict the predictably irrational human psyche.
There's no way around making changes in the dark. You just don't always know how people are going to react. However, that doesn't mean that every time a shrouded opportunity appears you should take it. I like to think of ignorance itself as a risk factor: you may not be able to calculate all the risks involved in a decision, but you can set a standard for how good the potential benefits have to be before you take a leap of faith. By establishing that the perceived benefits of a decision have to be above "X", you can avoid spending lots of money and time on options that are often best left unexplored. The recent re-branding fiascoes of Tropicana and Pizza Hut come to mind. What were the perceived benefits? When in doubt, if it isn't broke, don't fix it in the dark.
This post brought to you by a 4th of July fireworks show that changed for no good reason. Deep in the heart of Texas, many people were upset and a family tradition was ruined.