24. How do you rebuild a brand?

9 Nov

Every year companies find themselves in a situation where they may need to revamp, reposition or sometimes entirely rebuild their brand. There are many reasons a company may need to recreate their brand image including a new competitor on the market, new technology or maybe an unexpected disaster. Brands come and go over the years. Many cannot keep up with the times or react fast enough to consumer desires, but many do hold on and change with their environment. It is not easy, but it is possible for a company to rebuild a brand even in the worst of times if they follow the rights steps.

One reason a brand may be looking to rebuild is if their image no longer keeps up with the demands of society. Most products or companies have an image they are associated with. Over time, these images may become outdated or unpopular. When this happens it is up to the company to either rework their brand or drop out of the market all together. One company that managed to salvage their brand is Proctor and Gamble’s Old Spice. Before their radical campaign, Old Spice was associated with leather recliners, “Back when I was a kid…” stories and egg salad sandwiches. It was your father’s or grandfather’s shampoo. Proctor and Gamble used modern media tools and technology to launch a masterful campaign that completely redefined the brand. Starting with their television commercials, Wieden+Kennedy hired former Seattle Seahawk and actor Isaiah Mustafa, who manages to look like both the man you want to be and the man you want to be with. Proctor and Gamble spread this campaign across traditional and new media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs. With one campaign they managed to revamp a tired brand and build a following with younger consumers. They managed to boost sales and compete in the market with other cool men’s products such as Axe and Dial.

Another reason a brand may need to reposition is when the market is disappearing or they are being overcome by new technology. Chief Brand Specialist, Brad VanAuken, used an iceberg metaphor to describe this situation:

“A brand is the tip of an iceberg. How big and how deep the iceberg is will determine how powerful the brand is. The iceberg is the category. If it melts, the brand will melt too.”

One brand struggling to get back on top because of technology is Kodak. According to an article by the blog Branding Strategy Insider, just 8 years ago they were ranked as the 16th most valued brand in the world. Ever since then they have quickly moved down and by 2008 were not even in the top 100. Without a doubt Kodak is the best film-photography brand, but unfortunately our society is moving away from film to digital. Kodak decided to move away from film and create a digital camera in 2001, hoping that they would be able to maintain their image of trust they had with their film. Marty Neumeier uses the two-stage rocket metaphor in his book Zag to describe Kodak’s progress. A two-stage rocket uses half its fuel to get out of the atmosphere and the other half to get where it needs to go. Neumeier believes that when a company needs to get out of an old market and into a new one they can use their old business to get out of the dying market and then allow it to drop away when they get into a new market. Kodak uses this process to get from the world of film to digital. They used declining profits from film products to enter the digital market. Neumeier believes they could have been even more successful if they created a new name for the digital camera because “a new brand name would have established the first major camera brand designed for the digital world from the ground up” (Neumeier, 133). So far, no one is on top of the market for digital cameras, but Kodak has managed to keep up with the times and make its brand relevant again.

The biggest reason a company may have to completely rebuild its brand is when an unforeseen disaster strikes. An example of this is the BP oil spill. In 2000, British Petroleum spent hundreds of millions of dollars to support their new position of being “Beyond Petroleum.” At the time this had a positive impact, but now, after the spill, people can’t help but wonder if that money may have been better spend in other areas. Jim Gregory, CEO of CoreBrand, points out that “there is no getting around the fact that every dead turtle, fish, and bird that washes up on a Gulf Coast shore over the foreseeable future will be blamed on BP. The media and the public will be relentless on these issues.” Now is when they need to act to even potentially bounce back. According to Scott Bedbury, former brand manager for Nike and Starbucks and author of A New Brand World, a company facing this kind of crisis needs to start the moment of the mistake. They need to learn from Exxon who still bears the burden of the spill 20 years after Valdez ran aground. BP’s brand power has significantly declined and it may take 20 or 30 years to make a complete turn around and gain all of their credibility back. BP got lucky because people were too concerned with the state of the economy to give BP the same wrath Exxon got. Now is when they need to work the hardest to clean up their mistake. Bedbury believes that the bigger your company is the bigger there is a chance that you will screw up; it is only a matter of time. The important thing is how you deal with it. Someone that has successfully rebuilt their brand after a disaster is pop star Rihanna. After her much publicized domestic violence dispute with fellow star Chris Brown, Rihanna is back on top and stronger than ever. Her image may have waivered for a moment when pictures of her with a bruised face were released to the media, but now Rihanna is using this tragedy to not only bounce back but take the music world by storm. She could have allowed this to crush her, but instead she used the events to show that she truly is a strong, independent woman and can handle just about anything. Tiger Woods is in a similar situation where his personal life is affecting his profession, but he is not able to use this one to his advantage. He cannot use his affair to build on his original “family man” image. He will either have to create a new image or fail to regain his popularity. Rihanna succeeded because she used the incident to build on her previous image of being strong and fearless.

Avi Dan, a writer for Forbes, created a step-by-step guide on how to rebuild a brand and increase brand loyalty in “It’s Time To Rebuild Brand Loyalty.” The first step is to learn what consumers are thinking. Using simple search tools or social media is an easy way to figure out what people are talking about and what they want. Second, marketers need to reach consumers on a multiple platforms. To reach as many people as possible, companies need to get their messages as many places as they can. This does not necessarily mean they should be selling life insurance on Facebook, but maybe one day. Third, engage the super influencers. Super influencers are those individuals who others turn to in order to catch up on the latest trends or news. They may have a popular blog or followers. If you can convince them your product is worth their time then they can probably convince hundreds of others. Fourth, experience instead of messaging. The most brand loyalty comes from companies who understand how important it is to engage with the customer. Positive brand resonance comes from positive experience. Lastly, do well by doing good. Branding is not only about selling a product, but also about selling an image that can do more than just sell stuff. Consumers want to buy from a company they know is involved in bettering our society. This kind of ideology increases brand loyalty.

Brands are temperamental and can easily be damaged or even destroyed. The best way to avoid this is to create strong brand loyalty that does not waiver as easily. Ad agency founder Jim Mullen once said:

“Of all the things that your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest. Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. Brand loyalty is the only sound foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth.”

With a strong brand and the ability to change with the environment, a company has the possibility of outlast all others. Completely rebuilding an image will take time and input from every employee, from the receptionist, to the president, to the guys in the mailroom. A scandal, advance in technology or competitor will not terminate a company. A weak or deceitful brand will ultimately lead to their demise.

Work Cited:

Bedbury, Scott, and Stephen Fenichell. A New Brand World: 8 Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the 21st Century. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.

Dan, Avi. “It’s Time To Rebuild Brand Loyalty – Forbes.com.” Forbes.com –   Business News, Financial News, Stock Market Analysis, Technology & Global Headline News. 22 Feb. 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010.    <http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/22/brand-loyalty-google-apple-starbucks-zappos-cmo-network-avi-dan_2.html>.

Gregory, Jim. “How BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” Branding Strategy Became an Epic Failure | TalentZoo.com.” Talent Zoo | Advertising Jobs, Marketing Jobs, Digital Jobs, and Media Jobs; Industry News Articles, Blogs, and   Salary Charts. 2 June 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.talentzoo.com/news.php/How-BPs-Beyond-Petroleum-Branding-Strategy-Became-an-Epic-Failure/?articleID=7587>.

Jackson, Tia. “Lessons Learned from Rihanna: How to Rebuild Your Brand    After a Crisis. Part1 | BrandMakerNews.” BrandMakerNews | The Small   Business Resource for Urban Entrepreneurs. 7 June 2010. Web. 09     Nov. 2010. <http://brandmakernews.com/celebrity- brand/553/rihanna-how-to-rebuild-your-brand-after-a-crisis-part1.html>.

May, Kathleen. “Using New Media to Build (or Rebuild) Your Brand |    Katalyst.” Katalyst Blog. 14 July 2010. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.katalystblog.com/2010/07/14/new-media-brand-building/>.

Neumeier, Marty. Zag : the Number-one Strategy of High-performance Brands : a Whiteboard Overview. Berkeley, CA: AIGA, 2007. Print.

VanAuken, Brad, and Derrick Daye. “Category First. Brand Second.”   Branding Strategy Insider. 3 Sept. 2009. Web. 09 Nov. 2010. <http://www.brandingstrategyinsider.com/2009/09/category-first-brand-second.html>.




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