Brands fizzle out all the time. From historic flops like the Ford Edsel to problematic launches from established brands, such as Crystal Pepsi and the disastrous introduction of Apple Maps, brand disintegration can hit any company for any number of reasons. But some brands are agile enough to adapt, adjust their strategies, learn from their mistakes, and re-emerge stronger than ever.
Brand revitalization can generate a powerful response for any business, whether your brand is guttering out completely or simply losing steam. Here are some lessons to learn from amazing brand comebacks that have revitalized some of the most successful brands in the world.
4 Lessons Learned from Amazing Brand Revitalizations
1. Apple: An Unconventional Partnership
Despite the company’s problem with its map application, Apple is among the most powerful and well-known global brands today—but they weren’t always. It’s a well know story, the company started out strong in the 1980s with a decisive and profitable position in the computer industry. But following Steve Jobs’ resignation in 1985, performance dwindled, and by the mid-1990s the organization faced imminent bankruptcy.
Image via www.apple.com
Jobs returned as CEO in 1997 to face the daunting task of restructuring the company and salvaging the brand. After scrapping the expensive Newton, Jobs took a bold and controversial step by entering into a partnership with Apple’s biggest competitor, Microsoft.
Apple’s customers weren’t thrilled with the idea of sleeping with the perceived enemy. But the $150 million investment from Microsoft not only allowed for the development of popular Microsoft programs like Office for the iOS system, but also paved the way for the iMac—Apple’s sleek, innovative all-in-one PC that represented the new brand positioning and served as a landmark for the company’s signature products, including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
Jobs’ risk-taking may have met with initial resistance from his primary audience, but the partnership paid off and ultimately helped Apple claim the dominant position in the mobile device market.
2. Old Spice: Shifting the Target Market
Classic American brand Old Spice introduced its grooming products for men in 1938. The brand experienced steady growth, and by the 1970s was the top brand in its product class. However, the Old Spice brand aged along with its customer base, and by 1990 it had lost its appeal—Old Spice was an old man’s staple, and brand loyalty was at an all-time low.
Image via www.pg.com
At this point, Procter & Gamble purchased the Old Spice brand from parent company the Shultan Co., and launched a brand retargeting campaign aimed at capturing the younger generation. A new deodorant line called Old Spice High Endurance was marketed to teens, and the brand’s performance slowly ascended. Then in 2010, the company released the first of a series of quirky online commercials featuring the “Old Spice Man,” aimed at the younger generation.
The video quickly went viral, and propelled the Old Spice brand to the top spot in the body wash market. Sales of Old Spice increased by 107 percent in June 2010, shortly after the video’s release.
Image via www.pg.com
With a package redesign, new product releases aimed at a new demographic, and a video campaign that targeted younger markets by appearing in the channels they frequent, Old Spice created a brand resurgence that is still going strong today.
3. Dr. Martens: Banking on Nostalgia
Footwear brand Dr. Martens, known for patented air-cushioned soles and trademark yellow stitching, was a UK favorite for years. Dr. Martens boots saw peak success in the 1970s, when British punk rockers adopted the brand and created a craze. But when grunge moved in during the 1990s, Dr. Martens moved out—in a big way.
Image via www.drmartens.com
The brand fell out of favour in the fashion industry, forcing the company to downsize together with production stopping in the UK. In 2003, Dr. Martens’ production facilities relocated to more economically favorable China, leaving just a handful of design and office staff behind.
Image via www.drmartens.com
But in 2007, the company took advantage of a growing retro movement to relaunch the brand—and pulled off a successful brand resurgence simply by changing the name of its product. The original Dr. Martens shoe was introduced as the Dr. Martens “Vintage” line, with campaigns appealing to their customers’ sense of nostalgia. By 2010, the brand appeared in multiple designer collections on fashion show runways, and in 2012 Dr. Martens was assessed as the eighth fastest-growing company in Great Britain.
4. Nintendo: Pushing Brand Innovation
The Nintendo Co. has existed for longer than most people realize. The Japanese company was founded as a playing card manufacturer more than 120 years ago, but is better known as one of the first video game companies in the world. Nintendo entered the video game market in 1974, and found incredible success in the 1980s with enduring classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.
By the 1990s, the company dominated the home gaming console market with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo, and handheld Gameboy system. But competition from Sony and Microsoft heated quickly, and sales of the Nintendo 64 system launched in 1996 lost out to Sony’s PlayStation. The next iteration from Nintendo, the GameCube, performed dismally against both PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
Image via www.wii.com
Following the GameCube, Nintendo stopped focusing on improving its existing design, and moved into a new more innovative direction. In 2006, the company released the Wii—an entirely new design that resembled no other system. It was easy to use, highly interactive, and marketed not just to video game players, but to families with children. In addition, it was no coincidence that the name of the product is pronounced “whee,” which strongly associated it with fun. The Wii sent Nintendo surging back to the top, far outselling both of its main competitors’ same-year system releases, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
Image via www.wii.com
A focus on brand innovation and a redirected marketing campaign allowed Nintendo’s fizzling brand to come back stronger than ever. To date, the company has sold more than 86 million Wii units and continues to outperform its competitors.
There are many ways to revitalize your brand with a brand resurgence or rebranding strategy, from a simple product name change to an extensive overhaul of brand packaging, brand positioning, and strategic brand partnerships. Regardless of the size of your business, these brand comeback lessons can help you revive a flagging brand and experience greater customer engagement, higher brand recognition, and increased profitability.
What do you think?
• Would a strategic partnership with a competitor help you leverage your brand? How about partnering with a complementary business?
• What kind of strategic risks have you considered taking with your brand?
• Would you consider relaunching your products under new names to spark a brand resurgence?
• What innovations can you implement in your products or promote in your marketing to strengthen your brand?
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!