How To Reenergize and Renew Your Brand

Brands, like all human endeavors, are characterized by ups and downs. In this post, we consider the ways brands can and have reversed a downward trajectory and staged a comeback. This list is not meant to be an exhaustive list or review, but to highlight some of the more common methods to renew a brand for success. So, let’s get right into it.

Seeking inspiration in the past

One of the tried-and-true ways brands seek to regain their mojo is by looking back at what drove their success in the past. Often, that involves going back to the brand’s founding purpose or character, like KFC did after the brand’s low point in 2010 when it brought back Colonel Sanders in an updated fashion. Another approach that makes use of the brand’s history revisits a particularly successful marketing campaign or product design. A great example of this is the introduction of the New Beetle by Volkswagen in 1997. Not only was there a lot of excitement and energy around that particular model, but it lifted the entire brand as Volkswagen sales in total jumped 42 percent within a year—with all models witnessing a bump.

Doubling down on serving the target customer

Another approach to reviving a brand, particularly in a highly competitive market, is to refocus on serving your customers better than anyone else. This is what Delta Airlines did when it was staring in the face of bankruptcy in late 2012. By doing some careful market research and selectively pulling out all the stops with customers, Delta was able to get back its groove. Among some of the actions the brand took back then was to empower customer service agents to quickly rectify service challenges and to allow passengers to easily receive seats without charge on later flights if they were delayed. Those changes, accompanied by early and fast adoption of Wi-Fi on Delta flights and bright, friendly new staff uniforms helped turn the brand’s fortunes around.

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Leveraging or refocusing on the brand’s DNA

Brands can lose focus over time as opportunities arise and leadership gets distracted from the brand’s core strengths. Consider the Lego brand in the early 2000s as a case in point. Debt had mushroomed to $800 million, the company was making more than 13,000 different pieces with over 50 colors (compared to the original 3) and the brand’s theme parks were proving unprofitable. The new CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, refocused the business by halving the number of pieces, reducing color options and selling the non-core theme parks. But besides these fundamental business steps, Knudstorp also leveraged the brand’s DNA of creativity and crowdsourced product ideas among the brand’s most ardent fan base. Revenue was shared with fans who came up with successful product ideas for the Lego brand. By 2015, success of privately held Lego rivaled that of Ferrari, another European, family-owned business. Similarly, when Porsche was facing economic difficulties in the mid-1990s, it overcame those financial difficulties by launching new, non-traditional models (the Boxster, Cayenne and Macan) that nevertheless were true to the Porsche brand DNA in terms of driving dynamics.

The Total Reboot

And, finally, there are times when a brand has slipped so far as to become the butt of jokes. In those cases, the wisest course of action may be to reimagine the brand from the ground up. A good example of this is the brand Old Spice. On the market since the 1930s, Old Spice had aged with its customers and by 2009 was associated with how your grandpa smelled. Other, more modern brands were taking more and more share from Old Spice and Procter & Gamble (Old Spice’s owner) was forced to do something dramatic to relaunch the brand and make it relevant for a new generation. It did this by contemporizing the brand dress, adding new products (e.g., body wash and body spray) and cementing the new branding through a fresh marketing campaign with plenty of swagger and social media follow-through. Today, Old Spice no longer suffers from being an “old man’s” brand.

These are some of the major ways to revive a tired or dying brand. Other approaches are possible. For assistance with your brand, contact us at Six Degrees.

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Frank Schab
An experienced marketing and branding strategist, Frank has been helping clients optimize the value of their brands through insightful analysis and effective strategy for more than three decades. Along with holding positions at General Motors and Pfizer, Frank served as a Managing Partner at Interbrand New York and VP of Global Brand Research at Opinion Research Corporation before co-founding Six Degrees. His brand-building work in various sectors including hospitality, medical device, pharmaceutical, automotive and technology has taken him to 17 countries on four continents. Frank holds a doctorate in psychology from Yale University and speaks fluent German.

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