Examples of Adapting by 18 Renowned Companies

One would say that trying times such as the COVID-19 crisis becomes an essential part of a company's journey to success. Pressure, limited resources, financial decline, and even the loss of interest from your market could cloud your company's vision during this time. But instead of seeing it as a struggle, looking at it as an opportunity to adapt will change your game.

Have a look at how these 18 top companies have aced their game by adapting to their own share of difficult times.


  • Began as an online bookstore in Jeff Bezos’ garage in 1994

  • Success brewed when it was billed as “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore

  • Has adapted to change by branching out to different ways how their customers consume

  • Brought in ideas such as “same day shipping”, fresh produce online

American Express

  • Discovered during the westward expansion of the United States

  • First operated as an express delivery between New York and the Midwest in 1850

  • Has gradually reinvented itself over time in servicing banks by shuttling stock certificates, banknotes, and currency

  • In 1882, American Express produced its first financial product: money order


  • Known for its ability to reinvent and design existing technologies that made it work more seamlessly and efficiently

  • Didn’t invent the computer, but produced their own model whose design focused on users

  • One of the company's greatest adaptations and reinventions was the handheld devices, the iPod and iPhone

  • Has continuously been reinventing and adapting to the needs of its consumers, delivering it in its own unique style that no one can seem to replicate

Berkshire Hathaway

  • In 1927, the Hathaway Manufacturing Co began as a textile mill, and eventually merged with Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates; later to become Berkshire Hathaway

  • When the textile industry began to shrink, Warren Buffet began buying stock and later on selling it back to the company at a profit

  • When Buffet took over (after forcing the owners out), he removed the textile business from the company due to foreign competition and reinvented the company as a corporate holding and investment company


  • Started in a garage in Palo Alto, California where they began with audio oscillators

  • Expanded into other electronic products such as voltmeters and wave analyzers

  • In the 1970s, HP began to add computers and calculators to their product line up, adapting to the surge of people and businesses who were beginning to use computers

  • Branched out even more to printers, storage, and other services giving us the HP we know today


  • Back in the day, IBM just kept producing the same computers with different parts manufactured and provided by different companies

  • The severe lack of innovation eventually caused the company to report a huge loss of $8 billion in 1993

  • Abandoned the core of its business model — building and selling low-margin PCs and other hardware and rebuilt its focus to provide IT expertise and computing services to businesses


  • Began in 1932 with small wooden toys and simple plastic building bricks

  • Grew to become a household name for generations of children

  • In 2003, the company almost hit bankruptcy due to over innovating its products, when the market was beginning to be filled with new technologies as well

  • Had to rethink its business model and adapt to the market by rekindling their original products and collaborating with pop culture trends like Star Wars and Harry Potter

  • Also launched a successful movie series


  • Gained popularity by selling 15-cent hamburgers in California

  • In 1948, they revamped the business model from a grill-based restaurant to a drive-in restaurant with a streamlined 9-10 item menu and eventually opened up another branch

  • Throughout the years, the company has adapted to the demands of the consumers, until they realized their consumers are becoming more health-conscious and tech-savvy

  • Has adapted their menu by adding healthier options and transitioning their business online or through an app

National Geographic

  • Started as a magazine in 1888, and eventually began printing colour photographs of exotic locations, cultures and wild animals in 1914

  • Became a household staple in America, until the 1990s when the younger generation dismissed the magazine

  • CEO John Fahey spearheaded the company into different media platforms and launched the National Geographic Channel in 2001

  • Ventured into social media eventually where they showcase their award-winning photography


  • Was once a DVD-by-mail service, which in its popularity had 20 million subscribers

  • When online streaming became popular, the company offered streaming services alongside its DVD rental service

  • The debut of their original content, such as House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black gave the company an increase in subscribers

  • By retaining their DVD rental service while growing their online streaming platform, they were able to retain a loyal customer base while getting new audiences as well.


  • Has always been in the gaming industry, having started out with playing cards.

  • Realised the market for these cards was limited, and Hiroshi Yamauchi branched out to many industries, even a taxi company

  • In 1963 the company had a hit toy with the Ultra Hand, an extendable plastic grabber

  • The company continued to venture into the rising popularity of video games

  • In 1980 the company’s big break came at the hands of Shigeru Miyamoto who designed “Donkey Kong”, featuring a hero who would later become Mario.


  • In 1898 the paper mill in the town of Nokia merged with Finnish Rubber Works and began producing rubber tires

  • In 1912, a third company joined and they were renamed Nokia Corporation, selling their successful colourful rubber boots

  • In the 1960s, the company’s electronics division built radio phones for military and emergency purposes

  • In the 70s and 80s, they were producing radio phones commercially which led to the decision in the 1990s to let go of their paper and rubber division to focus solely on producing cellular phones


  • Faced difficulties to innovate their services while competition reached out to in-store payments and mobile payment technology.

  • Has recently taken steps to adapt to new technology by acquiring companies that specialized in new payment technologies.

  • Acquired Braintree, a startup that specialized in online and mobile payments for companies like Airbnb and Uber

  • PayPal’s decision to expand its business to potential partnerships or acquisitions allowed them to open up to new markets


  • Started out as a small antique and collectible store in London, one of the products being decorative shells that were imported from the east.

  • Later expanded this into an import/export business; exporting machinery from London and returning with goods from Asia

  • When the combustion engine made headlines in the last 19th century, the transportation industry was revolutionized where there was a need to transport oil

  • Built the world’s first bulk oil tanker that navigated the Suez Canal in 1892. The shipping business was later renamed to Shell Transport and Business Company


  • Always had a community-centric mindset

  • During an economic recession, the company reported a 28% profit loss, which drove Starbucks to innovate and launch a mobile payment option and a rewards system

  • The Starbucks Rewards loyalty program uses gamification to incentivize customers with stars each time they use the app or rewards card which enabled the company to increase their profits every year

  • Reinvented its user experience by engaging with the customer base and rewarding experience with the brand

Western Union

  • Inspired by the first sent telegraph message, people were quick into figuring out ways on how to capitalise it.

  • The New-York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company were pioneers in the telegraph industry, and eventually merged with multiple telegraph networks and became Western Union

  • The company had a peak of sending out over 200 million telegraphs in 1929 until it hit decline when phone services became popular

  • Had to reinvent and focused on money transfer, a business they began in 1871

  • In 2006, the company sent its last telegram.


  • Dubbed as the “IBM of India" except that it didn’t start out in the tech industry

  • Began in 1945, with vegetable oil as their first product

  • Over the next two decades, began expanding into different industries such as soaps, light bulbs, detergent, and other consumer goods

  • When Azim Prenji took over the company from his father, Wipro expanded into IT and began building PCs and enterprise software

  • This became their main source of revenue, yet the company still sells consumer goods under a corporate subsidiary

Yellow Pages (now Yell.com)

  • Yellow page directories was once a vital necessity in homes across the globe

  • With the rise of the internet, the company decided to stop publishing physical copies and decided that they will begin digitizing their business

  • It may not feel the same as having a physical copy, but they still provide the same service, faster and better

If you would value a free 1-2-1 Clarity Workshop to explore what is possible for your business, details for that are over here >>

Namaste kids!




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