It’s often human nature to resist change because persisting with the comfortingly familiar feels ‘safer’. Sadly the marketplace is littered with case studies and examples of once very successful brands now gone forever, often because their leaders didn’t implement the critical changes needed, together with a brand refresh, that were essential to ensuring a successful future.
“A Business That Doesn’t Change
Is A Business That Is
Going To Die”
The most recent example of this kind of demise is Stuttafords, a 159-year icon leading department store in South Africa, which will permanently close its doors at the end of July 2017.
Another example is Sears, America’s previously largest retailer. It was a mistake their leaders made to assume no one could overtake them, and yet both Walmart and Amazon have. Sears failed to adapt and as a result, in June 2017, closed yet another 72 stores.
Both Stuttafords and Sears could still be flourishing today if they had been more open to real change and the sad fact is, to quote Buckminster Fuller, “You never change things by fighting reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” so a well-timed brand refresh underpinned by a thorough brand audit could have resulted in a very different story for both.
In this article, we’ll uncover the 7 ways a brand refresh could have prevented the downfall of some of the world’s greatest companies, to make them more productive so they could have maintained and increased their sales.
What Is The Meaning Of “Brand Refresh”?
The findings can change the very foundation of a business, indeed the whole business model. It may have kept Sears, once the largest American retailer, and the doors of Stuttafords open.
For example, a brand refresh may mean a change in communication emphasis internally and externally, or a change in operations or perhaps an aspect of the brand story needs leveraging differently or the development of a whole new product or service is required to add a new revenue stream and meet customers’ needs. It may be that the company’s messaging, language and copywriting needs re-evaluation because it’s no longer relevant or appropriate to where the market has moved.
Refreshing your brand may even require a change at the very core of the business and what it stands for, and how that manifests in the organisation’s culture. What’s often misunderstood by many is thinking that a “brand refresh” entails cosmetic changes in the form of design only — that is a big mistake!
Changes such as design, video, photography, fonts, colour palettes and so forth should only be instigated as a result of much deeper strategic input where the brand has been fully evaluated, re-codified and mapped out for current and future market relevance.
In fact, nothing in the visual aspect of a brand should be touched or given a visual refresh until the strategic rationale behind that change has been fully developed in depth because it’s the outputs from that process that informs and provides much-needed direction for a design change.
Approaching your brand refresh in this way ensures a successful result and strong return on investment while also avoiding decisions based on uninformed subjective preferences.
Zopa, a UK based company founded in 2004 and consisting of approximately 200 staff members, was the first peer to peer lending company, and provides clarity on what “brand refresh” entails:
Rebranding is a relatively broad term, as it encompasses both large and small-scale changes to an existing brand, which aim to resurrect a failing brand, reposition the brand and allow the company to reach out to a new target market, or simply help the brand keep up with the times.
While some brands adopt a “back to the drawing board” strategy and change everything from their logo and name to their brand values and product packaging design, a good brand revitalization strategy can sometimes be limited to a few low-key changes that enable the brand to stay relevant or differentiate itself from the competition.
When Should a Company Invest in a Rebrand?
An impressive 61% of consumers stated that an exceptional customer experience was a major determining factor when choosing a brand, and 48% of consumers expect brands to understand their needs and assist them in finding the right product and services based on those needs.
Infographic via Cube.com [Digital Trends Target the Always-On Consumer]
Brands that have trouble understanding or catering to the customers’ needs are prime candidates for a brand relaunch, but a company can also have trouble with brand incongruence, a tarnished reputation or pressure from the competition.
However, the reasons for a rebrand can also be of a positive nature – a brand may experience rapid growth, as well as significant changes in the production process or the expansion of their product portfolio due technological innovations. Repositioning an economy brand as a high-end brand is another good reason for rebranding.
Since a successful rebrand involves performing a brand audit, market research, developing a detailed brand implementation strategy and effectively communicating the rebrand to customers and media, it is not recommended for young brands. You must have a well-established brand identity and a good level of brand awareness before you can embark on a brand revitalization journey.
Lessons Learned from 5 Successful Rebranding Strategies
1. Harley-Davidson – Improve the Actual Product
The Harley-Davidson motorcycle company initially had many advantages over their competition. For one, the brand had a purebred American provenance, a long history – their motorcycles were used by the US army in both World Wars – and were associated with an image of a powerful, fearless and rebellious man and an adventurous lifestyle that was alluring to a fairly large percentage of men in their mid-twenties and mid-thirties.
The brand had a good story tell, but the company still had numerous problems over the years, and faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion. The main issues that the company faced were:
- Their products were objectively less reliable than what their competition had to offer
- They faced very aggressive competition from a number of quality Japanese brands
- The brand had become associated with biker gangs, notably the Hells Angels
- They were seen as old-fashioned and outdated
In other words, Harley-Davidson had to address their reputation issues or face extinction. However, this was not something that could be fixed by merely changing the logo – their products didn’t meet the quality standards that the customers were accustomed to and they didn’t appeal to the younger generation. The brand actually adopted an incredibly smart strategy – spend less money on marketing and focus on making the product better.
Image via www.harley-davidson.com
Once they worked out all the little problems that had plagued their motorcycles, the company experienced impressive growth – Harley-Davidson, a brand that was on the verge of bankruptcy twice before, is now worth around $1 billion.
The company still faces a big problem, their average customer is a white American male pushing fifty, but they have shown that they are ready to reach out to a more ethnically diverse and younger target audience. The brand plans to shift its focus towards marketing in 2016. 
2. Massey Bros. – Leverage Your Premium Service, Tell Your Brand Story and Ensure Your Brand Identity Creates Distinction
Massey Bros. Funeral Directors is a successful family owned and managed business established in Dublin in the 1930s. They operate in a sector which is traditionally very conservative yet they’re industry leaders in terms of developing innovative solutions. They also have the added complication of having more than six competitors also operating legitimately under the ‘Massey’ name. In addition to this, they themselves also operated under two names before their rebrand!
Massey Bros. have always offered a very premium service but this five star, tailor made, message, their industry leadership coupled with their multiple first to market new innovative services solutions just wasn’t been properly represented in their brand profile, tone-of-voice or brand communications strategy. They also lacked a strong brand identity or consistency across their brand collateral.
We conducted research and a brand audit health check, re-evaluated their whole brand proposition and purpose, their positioning, signage, uniforms, brand collateral and brand strategy. The outputs and findings from this initial body of work then provided the direction for a complete brand overhaul resulting in absolute clarity over their brand proposition, a much stronger brand identity, a higher profile with distinction in the marketplace, consistency across all the brand collateral and most importantly strong staff brand custodians throughout the business that continue to pro-actively manage their brand in the marketplace. And of course, increased market share. You can read the full details of this rebranding case study here.
3. Target – Know Your Audience and Keep Things Simple
Target was initially envisioned as a brand that catered to a somewhat more sophisticated shopper, a person looking for a more sophisticated shopping experience than one would normally find in extremely low-priced stores like Walmart, but who also wanted that stay within a reasonable budget. The problem was that, over the years, the “deal-hunting” aspect became more prominent, which essentially lead to Target being equated with the very same economy shopping experience that they originally strived to distance themselves from.
This caused brand incongruence, with fashionable clothes on one end and cheap food items on the other, and they simply could not compete with well-established economy brands that ruled this segment of the market.
Target performed a brand audit health check, and found that they were neglecting a very important demographic. In the words of Brian Cornell, Target chief executive: “Our guest is going to be increasingly a Hispanic shopper.”  The brand, realizing that over 50% of Hispanic Millennials identified Target as their preferred shopping destination, even created several Spanish-language adverts, with a unique hashtag – #SinTraducción (without translation).
Another big step towards engaging their primary audience was the decision to unite their smaller “mini urban stores” under the Target brand logo. The company previously distinguished these smaller outlets as TargetExpress and CityTarget.
Image via Target.com [Target express store]
The logo design for the mini urban stores proved confusing, the words “express” and “city” were simply placed next to the classic bull’s-eye Target logo, and will only feature the Target logo going forward. With these changes, the brand has revitalized its image. However they still apparently have a bit further to go according to USA Today as things like the infamous 2013 security breach, and their latest OCD sweater has reportedly put their customers’ loyalty somewhat to the test.
4. Hybrid Technology Partners – Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself with a Poorly Thought Out Brand Identity
Formerly known as HybridIT, this Limerick-based company offer a wide range of services, including IT, software development and customer support. They even offer a product – a unique business management ERP (enterprise resource planning) system. However, anyone who saw the “IT” in their brand name immediately thought of them as just another IT company. 
This prevented the company from accessing a larger market share, and the fact that their logo didn’t communicate their core brand message effectively threatened to keep HybridIT in the shadows. Luckily, this “more than just an IT” company caught on and decided to revitalize their brand.
When working on creating appropriate brand identities for our clients, we focus on ensuring all the brand foundations have been fully developed using our Personality Profile Performer™ system before we even look at the aesthetics or design. The outputs from this system provide the roadmap for ensuring the brand identity outputs together with brand messaging and tone of voice are market and target audience appropriate, unique and in keeping a brand’s core values.
At first glance the change was subtle, they became HybridTP, but that one little letter was a monumental step in the right direction. The new brand identity, Hybrid Technology Partners made two things very clear:
- The brand offers diverse technological solutions for streamlining a business
- The company views its clients as partners, and works with them to find the best solutions
The new brand identity, coupled with some light modifications to their website, allowed HybridTP to convey their brand values – honesty, cooperation and trust – and connect with a much larger audience more effectively.
5. Narragansett Beer – Learn How to Appeal to Millennial Consumers
Pabst Blue Light used to be the beer of choice for blue-collar workers and hipster Millennials, but in recent years an old New England beer has stolen their title as the number one “cheap and cool” US beer.
The Narragansett brand has a long history, it was established 125 years ago, but the company recently made a very wise business decision and revitalised the brand, targeting Millennials. They didn’t stray away from their roots, their New England provenance, and long history being the key elements that distinguished the brand from the competition, but they did make some notable changes to the product packaging and re-evaluated their branding strategy.
The old slogan, “Made on Honor, Sold on Merit”, remained unchanged, but with fun and colourful commercials, local girls photographed in the traditional pinup style for their calendar and increased social media activity, Narragansett has successfully made a transition into the digital age.
Image via www.narragansettbeer.com
We know from personal experience that the Millennial demographic can be a powerful driving force that launches a struggling brand to new levels of success. Understanding both what makes their brand unique and what appeals to a Millennial audience, has allowed this low-priced craft beer to secure its position on the market. Saying that the rebrand was a success would be an understatement – the brand brought in $12 million in revenue last year, 120 times more than in 2005.
These five successful rebrand stories all carry an important lesson for any struggling brand. A brand audit can help you reveal your weaknesses be it a problem with the quality of the product itself like in Harley Davidson’s case, an issue of brand incongruence, a dissonance between the brand logo and core brand values and the services offered by the company or a lack of awareness of your primary audience’s needs and preferences.
A brand relaunch is not something to be taken lightly or done for the pure sake of change, but if a brand has fallen on tough times, lacks relevance or isn’t leveraging its full potential with its target market, implementing a carefully planned brand revitalisation strategy is a big move in the right direction.
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So, what do you think?
• Does your brand have trouble staying relevant?
• Did you perform a brand health check to determine if there are any weak points you could improve upon?
• Are you targeting the right audience, and do you really understand the needs of your primary audience in terms of their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations?
• Are your products and services up to standards, or are you having problems keeping up with the competition?
 Steve, Cubemc.com, Digital Trends: Understanding and Targeting the ‘Always-On’ Consumer, April 2015
 Mark Ritson, Branding Strategy Insider, “Can The Harley Davidson Brand Age Gracefully?”, October 2015
 Sarah Halzack, WashingtonPost.com, “Target’s new strategy: We need more than just minivan moms”, March 2015
 IrishExaminer.com, Small Business Q&A: Paul Brown, September 2014
 Kristina Monllos, Adweek.com, “How Narragansett Beer Rebuilt Its Brand With a Meager $100,000 Media Budget, Deep roots and word of mouth”, June 2015
Are you curious which Persona Branding and Design articles have been the most popular over the past year?
We’re always interested to see which of our posts resonate most with you, our reader. Even though we do lots of research and planning, there are no guarantees which topics will trigger the most interest.
Here you’ll find an insider’s peek into our top ten most popular branding articles of 2015, some of which you might have missed.
I’m sure you’ll find at least one that will be very useful to your business in the year ahead.
Wishing you growing success in 2016!
The differences between a tired, old, has-been of a brand and a fresh, lithe and provocative one can be boiled down to a singular concept: storytelling. The art of telling a story, and telling it well, is integral to grabbing every potential customer’s attention, and a key part of your brand strategy.
The secret to success in the elegant art of storytelling lies in understanding its fundamental components. Though by no means comprehensive, what follows is a breakdown of some major elements that any good story should include. These are in fact some of the key ingredients we incorporate in our Story Selling System™ used when developing our clients’ brand stories:
Launching a new brand is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes in the promise of something fresh and new that could be wildly successful, be it for your well established, emerging or new start-up company — and the challenge comes in getting it right the first time.
Evaluating, articulating, developing and documenting your new brand’s position and purpose is crucial to building a strong successful brand.
It provides the roadmap and rationale to get you out of the starting blocks and heading in the right direction towards your ultimate success. And similar to your business plan, it’s also a key foundation to any successful business, be it product or service.
The question here is, do you know the key ingredients required for building a new brand?
To help you move in the right direction with your branding here are some of the elements we typically include in our branding process every time we’re working with a client to help them build their brand, whether it’s revitalizing an existing brand or launching a totally new brand to market.
More than a half century ago, the customer-centric branding pioneer Walter Landor said, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”  In 2016, the path to that consumer experience is a two-way street, and guess who’s in the driver’s seat? Brands with strong personality are the winners, because consumers equate experiences with brands.
Branding keywords for 2016 include: personalized, authentic, humanized, interactive, engaging, and mobile.
Image via www.edelman.com
Your brand is much more than merely a product or service, or a logo. Brands are an experience—the relationship between your business and your customers—and to create an exceptional customer experience, your brand must have an irresistible personality.
To quote Martyn Newman PhD “In the information age and globalised economy where values and meaning matter more in the market place, the value of emotional capital increases. This creates brand value and goodwill and results in repeat sales through customer loyalty, lifetime relationships and referrals. In other words, the brand is more than a name or a logo; it creates trust and recognition and is a promise and an emotional contract with each customer.”
Brand profiling is the systematic process of creating, developing and implementing your brand character and personality through shaping its brand promise, values, the do’s and don’ts of its behaviours, story, emotional benefits, its culture and what it stands for and so forth.
It’s this humanized entity that gets your brand message out into the market, cuts through the noise and gets the attention of your primary customers in a way that matters to them.
When creating and developing the profiles for our clients’ brands we use our bespoke Personality Profile Performer™, a systematic approach which underpins the commercial, rational, and holistic aspects of successful brand profile building.
The following six key elements are representative of some of the core ingredients included within this branding process, used to create and deploy a compelling personality for your brand.
Image via © www.eqsummit.com
Co-branding is defined as a partnership between brands. It typically works best when Brand A partners with Brand B, each with a different set of customers and brand associations of their own.
As in the expression, “the whole is bigger than the parts,” co-branding can add value when synergy exists between the brands; it creates an emotional energy, starts conversations and creates buzz around both partners and can delivery significantly increased financial returns for all involved when done right.
In addition to brand revitalization, co-branding objectives may include getting more bang for your buck, growing market share, building audience reach and altering perceived positioning. Co-branding is primarily used an alliance of two brand partners, although there’s no rule against bringing three or more to the party.
• The Top 7 Benefits of Co-Branding
• 5 Co-Branding Risk Management Guidelines
• The Top 6 Tips for Co-Branding Success
with case studies and examples of who’s done it really well.
Infographic via www.missvinc.om
Colour increases brand recognition by 80%. 93% of shoppers consider visual appearance over all other factors while shopping. It adds huge power to communications, opinions, recall and emotive influence. In fact when used correctly, colour is a pivotal tool to substantially influence purchasing decisions, service or product.
Since colour choices impact every aspect of a commercial enterprise, brand owners should aggressively re-evaluate that choice throughout their brand strategy.
The question is, has your brand’s colour palette been selected with the right intent and applied to best possible effect throughout all your brand communications and touch points to ensure your brand grow and increased profitability?
Find out more about why colour matters and how you can use it more effectively within your business.
Infographic via Blueberry Labs
The growing proliferation of multiple different brands in the market place has made customers spoilt for choice, but often at the expense of easy decision-making.
When presented with an assortment of packaging options in which nothing decisively stands out, with a compellingly clear message that speaks to a customer succinctly, analysis paralysis sets in. It’s when faced with this situation that a confused shopper will typically default to making decisions based on price alone.
The question here is, where does your brand sit in the mix?
Leading brands cut through the visual and cognitive noise created by an oversaturated market full of aggressive competitors and hook their ideal customers by meeting their needs both emotionally and rationally.
Image via © www.marmite.co.uk
The combined value of the various luxury goods markets in 2014 was an estimated 865 billion euros, with luxury cars, personal luxury goods and luxury hospitality taking the top three places, with values of 351 billion, 223 billion and 150 billion respectively.
You might think those statistics make luxury branding a very interesting sector, however if you want to reposition or establish your brand targeted at a high-end customer then there are six keys factors you need to consider within your brand strategy.
Firstly there are four main characteristics by which the luxury customer defines a luxury brand. However the way in which someone perceives luxury will depend on factors ranging from their socio-economic status to their geographical location.
Infographic via Raconteur.net
Millennials, the newest generation of influential consumers (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y), spend more than $600 billion dollars annually with spending power expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020, (or 30% of US sales) according to Accenture 2013 research.
While these statistics sounds like ‘gold bullion’ for many brands, in our experience often smaller companies and organisations struggle to develop their brand strategy in a way that relates relevantly to this fast changing group of buyers.
Millennial consumers are a very fluid constantly moving target with multiple devices overflowing with content clamouring for their attention 24/7. However once you really understand this discerning consumer properly and tailor your brand to really meet their needs, you can, like many others tap into this incredibly lucrative market.
The average consumer spends 88% more time on content with video and video is shared 1200% more times than links and text combined. A landing page with video gets 800% more conversion than the same page without video.
If you ever thought using video to promote your brand was too difficult or beyond your reach these statistics might make you think again.
Find out exactly how you can use video to grow your brand here.
You can even find out how one small start up brand used video to achieve worldwide distribution and now has more online viewers than its competing massive global brands combined!
Image via Google / YouTube
Did your favourite post feature in one these top 10 branding articles of 2015? If there was an alternative that was your first preference, drop us a line and let us know.
Meantime I’d love to keep you up to date with what’s happening in the world of branding and make this blog really useful to you. If there’s anything branding related you would like to read about in this blog or if you have any questions or comments, suggestions for a blog post, feedback or even just to say Hi, just send me a short note, I’m here to help!
or give me a call at Tel: +353 1 8322724
Wishing you increasing success in the year ahead!
At the early Olympics, every four years triumphant athletes were lauded by having sponsorships called out (family name and native town), odes written and likenesses commissioned. These ancient versions of mass media frenzy were designed to create buzz and sing the virtues of the victorious. Today, major sporting events continue to represent big opportunities for ambassadorships and sponsors, since everyone loves a winning athlete.
As the world’s third-biggest sporting event, attracting an audience of 4.5 billion, brands of all sizes have jumped on board. Three thousand years later, what can we learn from the contemporary interpretation of getting one’s brand behind huge sporting events such as the Rugby World Cup?
Note that brand strategy in 2015 requires the “softly, softly”, more authentic and transparent approach for even the most hard-core rubgy fans. Here’s what we mean by that:
1. Humanizing Your Brand (case study Duracell)
2. Developing Influencers (case study Heineken)
3. Adding Values (case study EY)
4. Thinking Locally (case study Land Rover)
5. Using How-To (case study Canon)
Humanizing Your Brand: Duracell’s Powerplay
First and foremost, you want a battery that lasts; not much else about a battery is terribly important. But, how do you know when the battery is about to die? Unlike smartphones, there’s no indicator screen — unless you’re using PowerCheck technology, uniquely found on Duracell batteries since 1996.
Duracell re-positioned #PowerCheck within the rugby event framework, capitalizing on an ideal opportunity for Duracell to emphasize both power and strength. A two-pronged approach, to put a face (and physique) to the brand, enlisted Wales and British Lions captain Sam Warburton as the muscle-bound ambassador for a digital, in-store and PR campaign featuring footage from previous Rugby World Cups.
On the 2015 World Cup rugby pitch, #PowerCheck technology is used to help to track players’ performance indicators, combining rucks, tackles, carries and turnovers won during each game, rewarding those who “stay stronger for longer.”
Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.duracell.com
Alex Haslam, senior assistant brand manager for Duracell UK & Ireland, told Marketing Week the sponsorship will continue in future years and become part of the brand’s long-term brand strategy. Haslam said, “We know we’re not going to own rugby as a brand, but we’ve created something totally ownable. No other brand is talking about power and longevity.”
Actionable Branding Tip 1
How can I humanize my brand? The Duracell brand strategy can help smaller brands because it’s totally scaleable. Community events, county championships, school fairs, local youth sport clubs, charity fun runs and tournaments all present opportunities for associating your brand with local heroes and teams. Sponsor T-shirts, donate the local juniors’ kits, donate printing services, provide snacks and beverages for break time. We can help you find a great fit for your brand message in connection to a well-respected event, just like Duracell did.
Developing Brand Influencers: Heineken’s Heads or Tails
Former England captain Will Carling is a rugby VIP. Heineken is a big beer brand. People watch the rugby while drinking beer. Everyone gets that…but, there’s more to a tie-up than hiring someone like Carling to hold up the famous green beer bottle with the red star for the camera.
Heineken thought out some ways to get armchair fans involved with star rugby brand ambassadors to enhance the spectator experience, even to the extent of getting 48 fans onto the actual field to open matches, creating untold positive reinforcement for Heineken.
The campaign, “It’s Your Call” was created. Consumers find a unique code on the inside of special Heineken promotional packs or on a coin card given out in pubs when buying a Heineken during the promotion. Up for grabs are thousands of official Rugby World Cup 2015 merchandise prizes and the chance to flip the coin at Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.
To further emphasize “experiences, not just sponsorship,” Will Carling includes coin toss winners in video interviews with top rugby stars, while consumers are invited to live tweet at the rugby legends.
David Lette, premium brands director for Heineken UK, told Marketing Week, “The key thing for us is how we drive the association in a unique and experiential way for consumers.”
Image via www.marketingweek.com and www.heineken.com
Actionable Branding Tip 2
Can a smaller brand develop influencers? Absolutely. Heineken created evangelists-for-life by rewarding ordinary consumers and small brands can, too. Influencers don’t need to be famous. Your brand’s evangelists are your satisfied customers, and they’re happy to enter competitions, provide testimonials, attend events, sample new products, appear in videos. Just begin the conversation with them and press “record.” We’ll show you how to create effective videos within budget.
Adding Values: EY (Ernst & Young) Connects the Dots
Appointed as the official business advisor for the tournament, professional services firm EY (Ernst & Young LLP) targeted a B2B opportunity outside the consumer sphere.
Image via www.ey.com
Homing in on good sportsmanship values like leadership, motivation, performance and teamwork, EY connects the dots to resonate with their client base. Via exclusive seminars and publishing interviews with highly regarded rugby personalities, EY stays relevant while shining a light on their brand’s appointment.
Comments from proven winners in the world of rugby come from Katy Mclean, England women’s captain; Sir Graham Henry, former coach of New Zealand’s All Blacks; and Sir Ian McGeechan, former Scotland and British Lions player and coach, on topics such as “Lessons in Leadership: Rugby to the Boardroom.” It’s a perfect fit for B2B.
Image via www.ey.com
Tom Kingsley, sport and sponsorship director at EY, illustrates the tie-in, “On a daily basis we are asked by our clients about how to compete on a global stage…
Rugby World Cup affords us the opportunity to explore some of those issues because it is the coming together of 20 elite rugby teams all with one aim — to win on the global stage.”
Actionable Branding Tip 3
We’re a B2B brand, but small: Smaller business can mirror EY’s content marketing strategy by creating white papers, blog posts, newsletters, webinars, videos and other B2B marketing initiatives that deliver meaningful information and added value to clients and prospects. When there’s a trending event, connect to it through content. We’ll show you how hashtags are your workhorse and a strongly developed brand content strategy can help you punch well above your weight.
Think Locally: Land Rover Drives the Message Home
Fact: every sports hero and Olympian began as an amateur. Land Rover plucked “from the grassroots to the greatest stage” as the theme for their local-to-global storytelling campaign using the hashtag #WeDealInReal. The brand recruited 96 enthusiastic mascots aged 7-13 from 11 amateur rugby clubs around the world, representing each competing country to run out with their nation’s team.
Image via www.landrover.com
People are drawn to inspirational stories. Among the videos created to support the campaign, the biggest hit is titled, “Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors visit the World’s Smallest Rugby Club.”
“It speaks to the heart of the game and I think it also speaks strongly to the brand about being authentic and genuine,” Laura Schwab, UK marketing director at parent company Jaguar Land Rover, told Marketing Week.
Actionable Branding Tip 4
Great idea, but we’re not a global brand. Small brands are perfectly positioned to drive Land Rover’s concept forward. As a mascot for the Welsh Rugby Union, pint-sized 8-year-old Finlay Walker at Llanharan RFC and a Hampshire local rugby club were not too tiny to garner attention from Jaguar Land Rover. Every brand can — and must — tell their own authentic brand stories one person at a time. We can help you identify and create the best story opportunities using our Story Selling System™.
Using How To: Canon Says You Can
Idea #1: Spot yourself in the stands? Official sponsor of the tournament, Canon is producing a series of 360-degree images capturing the entire stadium during major matches. In a clever interactive twist, fans are encouraged to tag themselves in the crowd via social media.
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Idea #2: Exclusivity rocks. Canon offers amateur photographers who post the best rugby shots to shadow a Getty Images photographer at a RWC 2015 training session. The shots get featured on the official RWC website photo gallery. Who knows what special moments might be captured?
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Idea #3: How-to tips. Self-proclaimed “massive fan” Bear Grylls, intrepid adventurer, is joined by professional rugby photographer Dave Rogers to demonstrate angles, shutter speeds and more tips for capturing great shots like Rogers’ famous Jonny Wilkinson drop kick in Sydney from 2003.
Cyprian da Costa, brand communications director for Canon Europe, said that images play “a vital role in capturing the unmatched excitement and emotion of global sports.”
Image via www.rugbyworldcup.com
Actionable Branding Tip 5
How can Canon ideas help my brand? By turning your brand marketing approach on its head. Years ago, a big brand idea around a huge event would have focused on “Canon can…” rather than “You can…” Take a second look at all your brand’s content and brand collateral, adverts, tag lines and social media to re-position everything with an emphasis on your brand seen through the eyes of your audience, not your executive boardroom. We’re here to help.
We’d love to know what you think about how to scale these five big brand approaches to fit a smaller brand size.
• Are you using event tie-ins in your brand content marketing strategy?
• Would you like to know more about hacking trends?
• Have you shot and posted a library of how-to videos?
• Are you telling compelling stories about your brand? This is where you might want to consider brand profiling using a system like our Personality Profile Performer™ combined with our Story Selling System™ to help you develop a really compelling and distinctively different brand.
• Is CSR part of your brand strategy? Does your brand support a school, community program or charity drive?
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Although there’s a lot of talk about millennials and their desire to engage in consumerism, it’s important not to overlook the baby boomer generation, born from the end of World War 2 up to the early 1960s (roughly between 1946-1964). After all, Baby Boomers hold 70 percent of all disposable income in the United States.
Also, government data indicates that the baby boomers outspend other generational groups’ spending on consumer products and services by an average of $400 million.
Branding Strategies for Baby Boomers: A Unique Process
If those statistics have stimulated your curiosity and made it clear that to overlook the baby boomer demographic is potentially a very costly mistake, keep in mind that you can’t just retool most of your brand concepts currently used to reach out to older target markets.
For starters, baby boomers are usually very loyal to brands—and as shown by the opening statistics, they have disposable income. Also, don’t assume that this demographic will settle for less as they get older, or even that they’ll settle down.
When looking at the specifics associated with marketing to baby boomers, experts have found that this group prefers living in comfortable homes surrounded by the latest amenities. Also, they generally want to maintain very active lifestyles. Those findings align with what we’ve discovered when developing brands to meet the needs of affinity groups within this demographic.
Misconceptions about Baby Boomers are Common
Even marketers who are guided by solid research and good intentions sometimes miss the mark as they attempt to resonate with the baby boomer generation. Often, that’s due in large part to some pervasive misconceptions.
Earlier, we mentioned how baby boomers tend to be faithful to the brands they love. That’s true, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that baby boomers are set in their ways. According to Nielsen research from 2012, only five percent of advertising budgets were geared toward baby boomers, but some experts believe baby boomers are not as brand loyal as millennials.
There’s another prevailing assumption about baby boomers, which some of our clients have expressed: the belief that baby boomers are not tech-savvy.
Although baby boomers were not early adopters of technology, they tend to use tech devices more frequently than you might expect. However, they do so differently than their younger counterparts.
Whereas a younger person might primarily use social media to connect with friends, baby boomers may feel more compelled to do so because that’s the way their kids and grandkids share updates and photos. The shift over to technology, in many cases, probably wasn’t primarily out of desire, but because boomers realized social media was the quickest way to keep in touch with younger generations.
Additionally, apps that are related to health services frequently get built for cross-generational appeal. Some boomers have shown interest in using an app that might help them check in faster for a hospital appointment or enjoy easier access to medical records, for example.
Finally, some marketers seem to forget that the baby boomer generation encompasses anyone between the ages of 51 and 69. It’s not sufficient to believe that certain branding strategies will universally connect with everyone. A younger baby boomer might prefer very active vacations, while one who’s nearing 70 or older may want to go on a cruise instead.
Of course, that’s a very broad example. The point is, marketers should try to focus their brand strategy on reaching baby boomers of certain ages, through developing affinity groups as a tool for profiling them or at least recognizing that older baby boomers have different needs and desires than younger ones.
Examples of When Multi-Generational Branding Strategies Can Work
Even though you’ve now learned how there’s a fine art to baby boomer branding, don’t get discouraged and think it’s necessary to do away with every tactic you use to appeal to younger generations. In fact, research has shown there are some valuable commonalities. In fact, some of our clients achieved the best results with cross-generational approaches.
Specifically, both boomers and millennials love bargains, and a high percentage of them (more than 80 percent for either group) are very comfortable shopping online. Also, 75 percent of boomers and millennials are more likely to purchase something if it’s associated with a perk, such as a loyal discount or a coupon.
Now, let’s take a look at some actionable strategies, and case studies of companies that have used them well.
Case Study: J. Jill and the Uncomplicate Clothing Line
As discussed above, baby boomers don’t want to settle for less when they get older. The clothing brand J. Jill took that into consideration with its Uncomplicate collection, which is marketed toward baby boomers.
Image via www.jjill.com
The goal is to show that like younger generations of females, older women also deserve wardrobe upgrades. With this clothing line, they can look forward to clothes that are equal parts fashionable and comfortable.
Focus groups held before the new line kicked off found that women prefer attire they can easily dress up or down. When analyzing details of the Uncomplicate line, marketers realized that baby boomers wanted to look their best, without wasting time that could be used for more important pursuits. J. Jill also embraces a mix-and-match style with its Wearever line. These proactive steps reflect the brand’s realization that baby boomers have just as many reasons to enjoy new clothes as younger generations.
No matter how you market to boomers, we’ve found that customers respond best when you make it easy for them to meet their identified needs.
Case Study: Harley Davidson’s Tricycles
Baby boomers don’t like to be given the hard sell. They want to see the benefits of a product, but not in an intrusive way. Sometimes, brands have enough of a built-in following that people of all ages understand there are inherent advantages to choosing them, so there’s no need for a massive marketing campaign.
Image via www.harley-davidson.com
Harley-Davidson has released a three-wheel motorcycle called the Freewheeler that’s made for great stability, but still reaches impressive speeds. The Freewheeler is an improvement on a previous model of a three-wheel model, which was called the Tri Glide. In comparison, the Freewheeler is less bulky and features a lighter weight than its predecessor. Reviews of the Freewheeler trike are generally favorable, and the brand’s press release boasts, “Riding on three wheels has never been cooler.”
Going back to what you’ve read about baby boomers wanting to stay active, this trike is a perfect example of that principle. Sometimes it’s not necessary to reinvent a product so it caters to baby boomers, but to just tweak the details while preserving the familiar aspects that attracted consumers in the first place.
Case Study: Spirit 50
Across the world, there have been concerns that as baby boomers get older and require more medical attention, there will be an increased demand on the healthcare system. One forward-thinking Canadian entrepreneur named Erin Billowits is trying to keep baby boomers healthier as they age by marketing a fitness program that lets her demographic work out at home. The program, Spirit 50, combines instructional videos with step-by-step instructions. Users can even purchase consultations that take place over Skype.
Image via www.spirit50.com
In her research, Billowits found that a majority of baby boomers want to improve their health, and many are willing to make small, proactive changes without being prodded.
When designing her fitness program, Billowits looked at possible technological barriers. As you can see from the format of this YouTube clip, the exercises are explained in a straightforward way that’s not patronizing. Also, because the videos aren’t lengthy, most browsers should start playing them right away.
If you plan to market something to baby boomers that’s technological in nature, it’s important to do the legwork beforehand and make sure your concept doesn’t come across as overwhelming. Billowits identified that a need was there, but she recognized that some of her clientele may not be willing to embrace her exercise concept if it took them too far out of their comfort zones.
Furthermore, to sign up for a fitness plan, users only have to submit usernames, passwords, and e-mails. That’s simple enough even for baby boomers who aren’t accustomed to filling out a lot of online forms.
Case Study: Japanese Convenience Stores
In Japan, convenience stores are doing whatever they can to appeal to an older demographic. Executives have realized that a growing number of people from the baby boomer generation are stopping into Japanese convenience stores to get what they need without delay. A few major brands are branching out by offering a home delivery service of nutritious and easy-to-make meals, including bento boxes. This strategy appeals to boomers who aren’t willing to sustain themselves on sodium-riddled frozen dinners of low nutritional value.
Some stores stock attire that’s marketed toward an older demographic, but others focus on more practical things, such as healthcare items that baby boomers might need. Others have thrown their hats into the ring and aimed to meet needs that are a little more obscure, but still have merit. Two examples are health advice counters, and karaoke equipment that turns convenience stores into social gathering places for baby boomers who want to have fun among their peers.
These kinds of purpose-based approaches make sense. If baby boomers feel alienated due to a perception that most of what’s available to consumers isn’t relevant to their lives, they’re less likely engage with a particular brand or shop at a particular establishment, no matter how convenient it claims to be.
Case Study: Ford Motors
As Ford Motors has discovered, successfully marketing to baby boomers starts during the engineering process. The company makes some of its auto engineers wear “aging suits” that mimic what it’s like to be an older driver. Dubbed the Third Age Suit, the device is designed to make a person physically feel approximately 30 years older. Using a corset and orthotic devices, the suit causes stiffness in the hip region, knees, shoulders, and feet. Earplugs simulate being hard of hearing, and special goggles mimic vision-related disorders that are common in older adults.
Although this case study doesn’t represent an example of direct marketing to baby boomers, it demonstrates an effort made by engineers in the early phases to understand how aging affects driver capabilities and comfort. This could eventually influence baby boomers to choose certain makes and models of vehicles over others.
A Worthy Venture
Clearly, the baby boomer generation is not to be overlooked when it comes to ensuring that your brand gets noticed by those with a great deal of purchasing power.
Although it’s necessary to tailor your branding strategies using some of the methodologies discussed above, the ultimate payoff could be a major factor in helping your business stay competitive and indeed become more profitable in a crowded marketplace.
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• Brand Strategy: 6 Lessons Learned from Tourism Queensland, One of the Most Successful Branding Campaigns Ever
So what do you think?
• Have you used brand profiling and positioning is when marketing to baby boomers?
• Rebranding strategy was crucial for J.Jill when realizing, during a brand audit and through market research studies, that the fashion needs of baby boomers weren’t being met. Have you had a similar moment that has made you discover that baby boomers may be an untapped market?
• In Japan, several convenience stores have incorporated the needs of an older generation into the brand identity design. Do you think that will eventually mean that the majority of convenience store shoppers will be much older than in preceding generations?
• Brand positioning was a crucial aspect for marketing the Harley-Davidson trikes to a market that was already likely cued into what makes the brand worth following. Do you think that the brand strategy was comprehensive enough, or should it have been more extensive?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.
Household brands bearing the “Made in America” tag were in big trouble in the mid-1980s. Shivers ran down the spines of Detroit automakers as efficient Japanese models filled the U.S. highways. Sony Walkmans, Nintendo and Atari video games were on everyone’s shopping list. America lost ownership of household brand names as well as bricks and mortar symbols of the USA, such as Rockefeller Center and Columbia Pictures of Hollywood.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s solution was a renewed focus on supporting American brands in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. A new public-private partnership began with incentivizing American companies to ensure continuous product improvement before asking consumers to support American brands via their wallets.
When the cabinet leader that President Reagan had in mind to spearhead the re-branding of the USA’s output was fatally injured in a rodeo accident, the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program was named in his honour — envisioned as a standard of excellence to help U.S. organizations achieve world-class quality.
America’s only presidential award for performance excellence among both private and public companies goes annually to a maximum of 18 organizations within six sectors: small business, service, manufacturing, healthcare, education and nonprofit.
Groundbreaking in its day, the core competencies of the program are now widespread. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, many U.S. states and 60 other countries have adopted the Baldrige Criteria to create similar programs at home. The European Quality Award is modeled on Baldrige Criteria, adding two additional layers for social and environmental community. 
How Can A Brand Improve Itself?
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program criteria reflect an evolution from a focus on service and product to a broader, strategic focus on overall organizational quality, called performance excellence.
In other words, don’t just build a better mousetrap (product). Do so with a good roadmap (leadership, vision, planning) examining the means to reach the ends (training, education, management) and keep a happy workforce (engagement, performance) and customers (quality, profit).
The Baldrige Criteria guide a company through examination within seven areas of achievement and improvement.
- Leadership: How upper management leads the organization, and how the organization leads within the community.
- Strategic Planning: How the organization establishes and plans to implement strategic directions.
- Customer and Market Focus: How the organization builds and maintains strong, lasting relationships with customers.
- Measurement, Analysis, and Knowledge Management: How the organization uses data to support key processes and manage performance.
- Human Fesource Focus: How the organization empowers and involves its workforce.
- Process Management: How the organization designs, manages and improves key processes.
- Business/Organizational Performance Results: How the organization performs in terms of customer satisfaction, finances, human resources, supplier and partner performance, operations, governance and social responsibility, and how the organization compares to its competitors.
Companies applying for a Baldrige Award go through self-assessment as a first step. It’s a framework that empowers an organization to understand its own strengths and weaknesses, improve, reach goals, become more competitive. A good number of companies in the Baldrige circle indicate that this process — and the trained Examiner who leads them through it — is the most useful aspect of the program, award or no award.
Evaluate to Elevate
When you evaluate your organization from a branding perspective, you’ll compare your own performance with best practices across brand profiling, brand strategy, brand alignment, brand communication, brand execution, and additional markers. As a Baldrige Examiner would do for an applicant in that program, we can guide you through the brand audit process, make recommendations and work with you to elevate your brand.
These two companies won the Baldrige Award. Of the 23 small businesses to earn the quality prize since 1987, K&N Management did it in 2010. Ritz-Carlton is the only winner in lodging…and they achieved it twice.
K&N Management: The Love of Excellence
K&N Management is a small Austin-based operator of burger and BBQ restaurants in eight Texas locations.
What is the world “management” doing in the name of a burger, fries and shakes outfit? As one of only two restaurant companies to win the National Quality Award, K&N’s website tells the story of the family behind the grill.
It’s more than flipping burgers; they have a vision and brand values:
- Mission: “To Guarantee Every Guest is Delighted Because of Me”
- Vision: “To Become World Famous By Delighting One Guest at a Time”
- Core Values: “Excellence – Quality – Integrity – Relationships”
- Key Business Drivers: “Food Quality – Speed of Service – Cleanliness – Texas Hospitality℠ – Accuracy – Team Members – Value”
At K&N Management, they make leaders. Training courses are offered for each step up the career ladder, such as “How to Create Effective Internal Communications.” The career progression ladder — with salary expectations — is shared with employees (and the public). It looks like they’re doing the unimaginable: inspiring fast food workers, retaining staff, creating community, promoting from within.
Image via www.knmanagement.com
Visit the website to see more about the employee volunteerism being fostered by K&N Management, including Gold Recognition for Community Impact. The recognition that comes with that certificate held high for the camera is accompanied by peer support, kudos from management, family and company pride in addition to the important volunteer work itself.
Image via www.knmanagement.com
“Our guests can expect Texas Hospitality℠ at each of our restaurants: Rudy’s Austin and Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries & Shakes,” is the statement of pride from the same folks who can claim “Awarded the Highest Presidential Honor.”
Ritz-Carlton Hotels: Lasting Success
Ritz-Carlton operates 89 luxury properties in 29 countries with 35,000 employees.
Founded in 1983, within three years, Ritz-Carlton was named best hotel group with only five hotels. In the fall of 1992, with 23 hotels under management, Ritz-Carlton became the first hotel company to win a Baldrige Award. “We realized the award criteria could serve as a road map for quality improvement,” said Patrick Mene of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
America’s Ivy League Cornell University School of Hotel Administration built a case study around the Ritz-Carlton’s 1992 success, only to witness the company, now with 36 hotels, collecting the service category Baldrige Award from the president of the United States for an unprecedented second win in 1999.
Image via www.ritzcarlton.com
Did the lessons learned from the process of self-assessment and improvement stick? In July 2015, J.D. Powers and Associates released the results of their 19th annual satisfaction survey of 62,000 North American hotel guests. Number one in luxury hotels: Ritz-Carlton.
How are the lessons learned from the process being shared across brands? The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Centre is now the place where executives from other companies worldwide in many disciplines come to learn The Ritz-Carlton principles of service.
Clearly, even in a five-star hotel, not everyone’s job is a glamorous one, yet every member of staff must be proud of the brand. The Ritz-Carlton brand motto rings in the ears of many hoteliers: “We are Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”
Former founding President and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C., Horst Schutze, explained, “’Ladies and Gentleman’ has two values to us. Of course, the first is the expression of our expectations of our employees, from the president to the vice president to the last housekeeper or dishwasher. It expresses to them an expectation of how to behave, look and so on. At the same time it expresses a promise to the same group that they all are important to this organization. Their jobs may be different, but they’re equal. They are in service but aren’t servants.”
Remembering that Total Quality Management intrinsically promotes brand, and likewise to brand, it is an integrated philosophy embodied by everyone with whom it engages. Here are a few takeaways from the case study of the original Ritz-Carlton win:
- Commit to Quality: This requires support throughout the organization and must be actively led from the top.
- Focus on Customer Satisfaction: Customers know what quality looks like to them, and the company must meet and exceed expectations.
- Assess Organizational Structure: A good, long, honest look inside the company must focus on its culture and identify any places where organizational structure could impede the drive for performance excellence.
- Empower Employees and Teams: Adequate training is required so that empowered staff and teams can implement best practice from the bottom-up.
- Measure Quality Efforts: It is critical to gauge efforts toward superior employee performance, streamlined decision-making, supplier responsiveness and improved customer satisfaction.
Learning, improvement and quality are integral to any successful brand, particularly one that goes after a competitive award that’s a good fit for the brand. The Malcolm Baldrige Award is estimated to have an ROI of 820-to-1. Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might also pursue?
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So what do you think?
• Can you identify a suitable crowning achievement that your brand might go after?
• Are there any community, local, regional brand awards that you’d like to earn? Go for it!
• Have you crafted a mission statementand a vision for the future of your brand through your brand profiling?
• Do you perform an annual brand audit and SWAT analysis for your business?
• How does your organization create exceptional brand experiences and recognize outstanding customer-facing performance?
• How does your organization recognize and reward exceptional employee performance ‘behind-the-scenes’ so that peers are aware too?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.
 American Society for Quality
Is your brand struggling to stay relevant, afloat, or sinking in the marketplace? Do you feel that your brand could be capturing more market share—but it just isn’t happening on your current platforms?
Renaming your brand or changing your tagline can be a powerful strategy for brand renewal or revitalisation, but it’s not a process that should be taken lightly. Effectively pushing the reset button on your brand requires careful consideration and planning, and a sound strategy based on the right reasons.
The name of your company, product, service or range etc. is often the first thing anyone will come in contact with. It’s your first impression. The question here is, do you want your first impression with your primary audience to be something that’s interesting and helps tell your story? Or do you want something that sounds like many others, an industry or category norm but consequently has less impact because it blends in with the rest – that might be a strategic choice but often not the one most desired.
A good name is a compact easy-to-communicate piece of information, it can grab peoples attention and makes them want to know more. It can make them stop and think, laugh or smile, or let people know how you feel about the world around you. Ideally a good name should communicate one key objective, which is strongly founded on your brand promise, positioning, brand values and tailored to fit with your core customer mind set.
Image via google.com
A great brand name is vital to the success of your business. As an example of the power of a name, look to one of the most recognised and powerful brand names in the world: Google. Would the search engine giant have risen to the same heights the organisation enjoys today if they’d kept the original company name of BackRub? Perhaps unlikely—that particular brand renaming might have been one of the best ideas in history.
When creating compelling brand names for our clients we use our Nail it Naming System™. If you’re considering re-naming with some inhouse brainstorming, then here are some of the key factors that you should consider before changing your brand name or brand tagline in order to optimise the effectiveness of a re-naming brand strategy, and ensure true growth for your brand.
Reasons for Brand Renaming: Good versus Bad
The first thing you should consider with a renaming strategy is why you want to change the name of your brand, and / or use a different tagline. There are many good reasons for brand renaming—and some not-so-good reasons.
Some good reasons for changing your brand name include:
- Your brand name has damaging associations. Mistakes happen, but a mistake in business can have a substantially negative impact on your brand name. If your sales or market value are suffering because of a past problem, renaming your brand can give you the opportunity to start afresh with a clean slate.
- Your current brand name is obsolete. Every brand must stay relevant in order to be successful. If your brand name sounds old-fashioned (but not retro), a brand name change may be a good strategic decision.
- Your brand name doesn’t capture the essence of your offering. Consider the brand name Quantum Computer Services. What does that tell you about the brand? Maybe you’re thinking ‘not much’ or assuming it must be some kind of computer repair company. But when this organisation changed their name to America Online (AOL), the brand became synonymous with their service offerings.
Image via www.aol.com
- Your business has expanded beyond the original brand. If your company name originally conveyed particular founding offerings, but you’ve outgrown and expanded beyond what the brand name originally referred to, changing your brand name can help you refocus and expand to capture other larger markets further afield.
- Another brand has a similar name. This type of issue often arises for businesses that are expanding their geographical reach. If there are established businesses in new markets with a brand name that’s similar to yours, renaming your brand can help you compete in these new markets. As an example, 11-year-old Miller Insurance Group based in Florida was looking to expand nationally in the United States, but Millers Mutual already had a strong presence in the Northeast. The company rebranded to Brightway Insurance and successfully grew a national market base.
- Your company is experiencing a merger or acquisition. When two or more companies come together, there are a few different branding options. In some cases it makes sense to keep the brand name for the strongest brand—but a complete brand renaming may also be a viable option for the newly formed company.
On the other hand, here are some situations where renaming your brand may be the wrong strategy:
- Change for the sake of change: Renaming your brand because you think another name would sound better is a poor decision for change. Brand renaming should not be done on a whim—you need to invest time and resources in a brand name change in order to ensure the desired commercial returns. Changing your name without a solid strategically driven reason can also confuse or alienate your customers.
- Destroying brand equity: For brands that are already well established, changing your brand name can be incredibly risky. If your customers already have a strong association and connection with your brand name, renaming it can substantially undermine and negatively impact your business amongst existing loyal customers. Their trust in your brand can become weakened, resulting in market confusion and plummeting sales.
Evaluating Your Existing Brand Equity
Brand equity should also be a top evaluation factor for any brand considering a name change. With brand renaming, you not only risk confusing or alienating your existing customers, you could also end up with high costs for your rebranding efforts that may not deliver the desire return on your investment. For example if you have a large amount of existing brand collateral, changing your brand name can be expensive.
Your customers and transitioning them through a potential brand name change is perhaps the most important factor in your brand re-naming brand strategy. Before deciding to change your brand name, you’ll need to conduct some detailed research or a brand audit of your existing brand equity. Find out how customers really feel about your brand, what qualities do they associate with it, what do they think your brand name stands for and how much influence does your brand name have on their purchasing decisions.
If you have significant valuable brand equity, but still need to rename your brand—for reasons such as your brand name no longer appropriately reflects your offering, your business has expanded beyond your current brand name’s relevance, another brand has a similar name, or you’re being legally compelled to change the name—you should implement a transitioning strategy that will help both existing and new customers associate the new name with your original brand name thereby helping them make the move with you and reducing the potential risk of any loss of business.
As an example, U.S. based company CallCopy was launched in 2004 as a provider of call recording software. The company expanded its market and its product offerings, and recently added a complete suite of tools for workforce optimisation, providing greatly enhanced and expanded functionality beyond merely recording calls. The organisation needed a new name, because existing customers continued to associate their brand with just the original more limited offerings—but they already had strong brand recognition for their founding name in their market.
Image via www.uptivity.com
After deciding on the brand name Uptivity, the company not only created new brand collateral and physical materials like employee shirts and business cards, but also launched two parallel business websites. One used the original business name, and the other was under the Uptivity name, but branded with “formerly CallCopy.” The company kept both sites running for three months to build SEO before redirecting the CallCopy website entirely to the new Uptivity URL and phasing out the “formerly” rubric.
Choose Your New Brand Name Wisely
Google is synonymous with Internet searches, but that wouldn’t have been the case if the company had remained “BackRub”—primarily because the original name had no association with the company’s offerings and would potentially have triggered the wrong emotional response for customers.
There are many different ways to name a brand. Briefly, a few of them include:
- Founders’ names, like Cadbury or Disney
- Geographic names like Patagonia or Cisco (short for San Francisco, the company’s home base)
- Descriptive names like Whole Foods or Internet Explorer
- Evocative names that paint a picture of the brand
- Alliteration or rhyming names
- Made-up names (neologisms) like Twitter
- Hybrid names like Microsoft
- Acronyms (did you know that Yahoo! stands for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle?)
Whatever naming convention or strategy you choose, your brand’s new name should succinctly encapsulate your offerings and capture the emotions you want customers to associate with your brand. It should be memorable, engaging, and differentiated from your competitors. Choose a brand name that is unique to your company and your platform, and your brand renaming efforts will have a much higher chance of success.
So, what do you think?
• Is your brand succeeding as a result of, or in spite of your brand name?
• If your brand is struggling, can it be attributed to your current brand name or tagline?
• Is your brand name outdated, irrelevant, or non-descriptive?
• Can your customers recognize the types of products or services you offer based on your brand name? How can you give it more meaning and relevance?
• How much brand equity do you have built into your current brand name? Does your business situation still demand a renaming?
• What brand collateral or platforms would you have to change when renaming your brand?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!
Entrepreneurs typically face an array of challenges with a failure rate which is dauntingly high. Estimates range from 75 to 90 percent of startups failing within the first few years – those numbers are enough to give even the most stoically resilient and determined entrepreneur pause for thought.
The good news is that a strong brand strategy can vastly improve your chances for entrepreneurial success. If over 80% of the Fortune 500 Company CEOs, rate ‘their brand’ as their company’s number one asset, then maybe you should be giving the planning and thought around your brand a lot more consideration than merely tokenism. When building a brand, it’s vital for entrepreneurs to realize that brands are not solely visual. The most common misperception is that many think their brand is just their logo and not much else! A logo is not a brand. This one of the most prevalent mistakes business owners, and designers alike make – much to their detriment.
A brand is what your product or service ‘stands for in peoples minds, what it means to them’ and ‘branding is the process of executing and managing things that make people feel the way they do about your brand’. What your brand stands for, its values, promise, customer experience and those associated feelings your brand provokes through its story, and so forth, are what determine the creative design brief for what you logo, and all your other visual materials, actually look like. Your logo is merely the visual idnetifier for your brand, assuming it is well designed enough to appropriately convey your brand meaning in a very distilled visual representation. In short you need to build your brand profile first, before you start designing your logo.
If you define what your brand is all about from day one, through your brand profile, it will provide you with absolute clarity on the direction of your brand strategy in parrallel with your business strategy and overall business plan. It will provide you with the right direction for all the different choices you will need to make such as suppliers, communications, online interactions and marketing activities etc.
The question here is what’s different, really different about what you’re offering? Slightly different is not good enough. If you want to stand out, you’ve got to be brave and think bigger – dare to be different with your brand in a way that is really relevant to your primary customer. This is what gives your brand substance and potential sustainability – not a logo. You can have the most beautifully designed logo but that still won’t make it into a brand.
Image via www.financialpost.com and Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg
One entrepreneur that has defined a brand very succinctly is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, when he said: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Successful branding is about winning and keeping customers, about influencing choice, and ultimately about finding and dominating your place in the market.
Checkout these top five branding tips to help you achieve a stronger start and give your budding business a better chance of success.
5 Foundational Branding Tips to Support Your Brands Success
1. Start Early, Brand Consistently and Congruently
For any entrepreneur or startup, it’s never too early to begin building the foundations of your brand. In fact, you should have your brand well developed and thought through so you can put it to work for your business long before you interact with your first customer. This can be summed up in Simon Sinek’s quote ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy ‘why’ you do it, and what you do simply ‘proves what you believe’.
Understanding is the first step to building a successful brand. You must know, as a company, exactly who you are, what you stand for, why you do what you do, and what you have to offer your prospective customers that they can’t experience or get anywhere else. Your brand must emotionally and intellectually have the power to engage, motivate and inspire both your prospective customers and your people internally.
Dedicate committed time and effort to determining your brand vision. Challenge your thinking, don’t settle for second rate ‘me tooism’ or hybrids of what’s already out there. The greatest sin is to be bland, obvious and ordinary. You must be different, distinctive and memorable for the right reasons if you want success. Be rigorous and thoroughly challenge yourself. Be able to answer questions such as:
- What is your company’s mission? What will you deliver to your customers—not just in terms of products or services, but emotionally and as an overall customer experience?
- What benefits and features of your company’s products and services are unique to your business?
- How will your brand enhance your customers lives and/or solve their problems?
- What qualities do you want your consumers to equate with your company?
- What should your business be synonymous with in one year, five years, ten years?
- Will it still be relevant and powerful in one year, five years, ten years or twenty years plus?
- Would you fight to protect what your brand stands for? Do you believe in it so strongly that you simply won’t compromise on it? Is it fundamental to your core belief system?
Once you have fully fleshed out your business brand vision and values, you can begin distilling your core message into a powerful and captivating brand communications strategy that puts your brand to work effectively.
However this can only be done authoritatively when you have a very clear picture of who your ideal core target audience is. Do you know what their needs, wants, loves, hates and aspirations are? How and where do they live, what age and gender are they?
You need to build your customer persona or avatar because its only when you have absolute clarity on what this is, that you can create a brand that will truly resonate with your core target audience. You need to create a brand that meets their emotional needs because when people buy, be that a product or service or into your ideas, they buy with emotion – not rational. Think about it, you can’t build something of substance and compelling meaning if you don’t know or understand who you core customer is and what matters most to them.
2. Create the Right Visuals
While a brand isn’t just about visuals, your brand collateral or visual materials are far more important than most entrepreneurs often realise. Think about all the brands you know that are instantly recognizable: the BP flower, the Nike swoosh, the red Coca-Cola can, McDonald’s golden arches, and Apple’s…apple.
Image via www.apple.com
For any entrepreneur or startup, a well-designed logo can become a powerful hook for your brand. It’s your brands identifier and like a tattoo, not something you easily or readily change once you start establishing it – so it needs to given some serious thought and investment from day one. In short it needs to be invested in properly as does all the rest of your brand collateral be that your website, brochures, PowerPoint or Keynote Presentations, packaging, direct mail, advertising, social media presence and videos etc. Your brand collateral is the tangible evidence of your brand and it must be designed to congruently reflect and tell your brand story, its values and personality properly. Every single touch point or piece relating to your brand must be consistent and properly designed. They are the tactile materials of your brand, an extension of your reputation and part of your branding strategy.
3. Dare to be Different
Every business has competition, and as an entrepreneur, your startup must stand out from not only the established companies in your industry, but also the thousands of other startups launched every year. This means that having absolute clarity on what your brand stands for, what your ‘big why is’, and how you’re going to communicate your message and that distinction to your customers, is crucial to your brands’ potential success.
Distilling your brand values, what it stands for, its personality, the do’s and don’ts of how it will behave and the experience it will create for your customers through all the various ‘touch points’ of its interaction with them is critical to its potential success.
It can be challenging to properly and fully develop your ‘brands’ profile’, but once done becomes vital to the fundamental success of your business and part of your ongoing business strategy and plan. It’s integral to your business model.
As an example, many entrepreneurs around the world have built their success through a brand profile that has been strongly rooted in the provenance of their unique geographic location. The hospitality and restaurant industry is particularly crowded, but with enough differentiation from other restaurants in the same locality and an authentically lived and experienced brand story, you can attract a loyal customer following.
The world you create around your brand must be authentic with an almost theatrical piece of escapism, from a customer experience perspective. From the moment they stand outside your door, metaphorically speaking, to consider a purchase from you, your brand must offer them something they can’t get or experience anywhere else. It must richly express its own personality in a way that’s truly relevant and compelling to your target audience.
Image via www.letoile-restaurant.com
One restaurant owner in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, not only created success with her brand proposition, but also used it to elevate her status from entrepreneur to icon. Odessa Piper’s vision led her to launch a fine-dining establishment, L’Etoile, in the middle of a large farming community, which became successful due in large part to her brand vision and commitment to serving only the highest quality, locally sourced food. While sustainable dining may be nothing new today, it’s important to note that Piper opened L’Etoile in 1976, making her a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement and earning her the title of “First Lady of Cuisine” in Wisconsin.
4. Brand Promises: Make Them and Never Break Them
Every successful brand comes with an unshakeable promise—in fact, your brand promise is a core part of your brand. You don’t have a meaningful brand without a brand promise. Having a brand means that your customers can and should expect certain rewards whenever they interact with your company. Whether that promise is incredibly great quality ingredients “using only the really good stuff”, exceptional customer service that “goes beyond just the good to an exceptional and unforgettable experience” or “social distinction in a class of its own”, the key to sustaining your entrepreneurial business is to deliver on your brand promise – every time congruently and consistently without question. Your brand promise must be non-negotiable in its delivery and fulfillment all the time.
Image via www.rubyhammer.com and www.debenhams.com
International makeup artist and successful entrepreneur Ruby Hammer understands and capitalizes on her brand promise. Hammer co-created and launched the now-discontinued Ruby & Millie makeup brand in partnership with Boots—but she’s also responsible for the launch of other successful brands in the UK, including Aveda, L’Occitane and Tweezerman. She was awarded an MBE in 2007 by the Queen, and she’s recently launched a new line called Ruby Hammer Recommends.
In an interview with the Female Entrepreneur Association, Hammer states that promising and delivering quality is vital to the success of a brand. “The key to developing a successful brand is first, you’ve got to have something worthy of success,” she says. “You can’t do it with a bad product.”
Successful brands not only give customers the expectation of a unique perspective and a valued experience, they deliver on that promise to provide something undeniably and irresistibly desirable.
5. Branding: A Solid Foundation for Startups
The majority of new businesses may fail, but yours doesn’t have to be one of those sorry statistics. Strategic branding with a clear message that communicates the unique experience and attributes of your offering can help you win and sustain your business from day one. Commit to building a strong brand foundation to attract and underpin a loyal customer base. This will in turn inspire your brand advocates who in turn will help you spread your brand name and reach much further, and most importantly, help you build an ongoing profitable empire.
What do you think?
• Does your business have a strong brand profile? If not, how can you create one?
• Do you understand what your target audience wants, and exactly how you can meet their desires?
• Does your logo really stand out in its uniqueness and distinction, capturing the essence of your brands’ mission, vision, and qualities of your business at a glance? If not, how can you improve it?
• How can you measure the effectiveness of your startup’s brand?
• What channels are you using to spread your brand, both visually and conversationally?
Drop us a line and share your thoughts in the comments, we’d love to hear from you!
What happens when a successful brand fails to impact within a new market or market segment? When despite best efforts, the brand cannot make itself relevant to a new market? Is introducing a sub-brand the answer?
There are instances when sub-brands hold the key to expanding market share and broadening profit opportunities. However, sub-branding also runs the risk of jeopardizing the strength of the parent brand if implemented without due diligence and careful analysis.
Effective Sub-Branding Strategies
1. Entering Markets That Are Closed To The Parent Brand
Air Canada recently launched Rouge, a low-cost sub-brand airline created as a means to serve new market destinations that the existing model could not serve on a competitive basis. Air Canada’s original brand value structure would be compromised if the parent brand cut their prices and changed the quality of their value proposition. Rouge aims to be a proactive manoeuvre by the brand against new low cost carriers operating within Canada.
Disney releases Certified 18 movies under their Touchstone brand as doing so under the Disney name would be incongruent with the Disney brand identity and what it stands for; magic, fun, wholesome family experiences full of happy memories and happy endings!
2. Satisfying Segmented Customer Needs
Hoteliers segment their market by brand type and frequently introduce meaningful sub brands to serve new customer needs and enter new markets. By separating the hotels into sub-brands, Hoteliers can highlight the different value bundles offered under each brand. It provides clear distinction for the customers on the level of service to be expected from each sub-brand, providing an obvious choice for the business or luxury customer versus the family on a budget.
3. Industry Norms
Sub-brands are part of the culture of some industries. Car manufacturers frequently release cars under sub-brands. This is particularly effective when each sub-brand has a particular focus and value proposition that does not overlap with other sub-brands within the family. Toyota’s Prius has a very definite brand identity and serves a focused target market. It allowed Toyota to create a leading position within the environmentally conscious market segment and made the Toyota brand more relevant with that customer group.
Sub-brands have been known to help companies thrive, capturing new market segments and introducing a parent brand to a wider audience. However sub-branding can come at a cost too.
1. Reduced Impact of Parent Brand
Establishing and marketing a sub-brand demands a considerable investment of capital and resources. In most cases sub-brands move resources away from the core brand, risking potential sales of the parent brand itself. The success of the Coors Light beer came at the expense of a loss in market share of the parent Coors brand due to the reduced marketing budget available to advertise Coors.
2. Create Competition
Sometimes sub-brands can invite competition within a sector, creating obstacles that previously did not exist. American Express had established itself as the premium brand within the credit card market. Then it decided to introduce sub-brands: the American Express Gold Card and American Express Platinum. Suddenly it opened up the opportunity for competitors to launch their own products aimed at the high-end customer, forcing American Express to fight for its premium position.
3. Over Stretch Marketing Resources
As with any strategy, introducing a sub brand offers both pros and cons. The general consensus is that companies should operate with as few brands as possible to maximize the impact of limited marketing resources.
Marketing will appear weak and ineffective if it is spread too thinly. Economies of brand, strategic focus and clear efficient internal operations can often give the parent brand the support it needs rather than employing a sub-brand strategy.
While sub-brands can help to upscale or downscale a brand offering, without clear differentiation a sub-brand can cause real confusion with customers as to the value proposition and unique offering of each sub-brand.
Remember, if your core brand is failing to make an impact within a market there are other strategies that may serve your corporate goals. Identifying the possibilities at hand such as expanding core values, evolving the brand structure or reinterpreting existing brand values could have the desired effect and impact with your target customers.
Before you explore developing sub-brands ask yourself this: how many brands do you need to get the job done?
Persona Branding & Design Consultants
Contact: Lorraine Carter
T: +353 1 832 2724
Howth, Co. Dublin, Ireland
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