Revolution is easy when you don’t have anything to lose. You say the things everyone’s afraid to say, kick in some doors, fire your guns into the air, depose some tyrannical leaders, and declare your way to be the new way of doing things. When you’re a startup, it’s only natural to have a revolutionary brand, since you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain by discrediting the major competitors in your field.
But what happens after the revolution? You’ve survived the first few years as a business, and you start to realize that it’s not about proclamations and gunfire anymore. Now you’ve got work to do. After revolution comes nation-building.
This is where things get difficult, because the people who are great at revolution are often terrible at nation-building. Or, they get sucked so deep into nation-building that they forget what the revolution was all about and become bureaucrats instead.
As your business evolves, you must stay true to your ideals, but your brand does have to evolve and mature over time. You’ll miss the adrenaline of gunfire and door-kicking, but to thrive in business your brand must adapt and mature. The real revolution is in the practical details that unfold over years and decades.
If you don’t stay true to your ideals, though, someone will come along later and depose you as you did the last one. You have to simultaneously be a nation-builder and a revolutionary.