Time and tide wait for now one. Consumers change, environments evolve, even technology causes disruptions. Branding can get out-dated, monotonous, or plain irrelevant. With these changing times and customer preferences, companies have to re-invent their marketing to stay in the game -and this is hard. Here are some inspirational stories of brands that were the victim of out-dated branding and how they got back into the game.
16 September 1985 marked the fall from grace of Apple Computers when Steve Jobs was cast out by the team. A decade later, when he came back, Apple saw a bunch of dramatic moves that transformed the branding strategies. Since Apple produced a variety of products, the company’s name was changed from Apple Computers to Apple Inc.
Elegant simplification became the mantra. Jobs always tried to keep the marketing plans simple but interesting. The taglines, the messages, and even the sentences spoken in ads were kept simple and to the point. Even then logo dispensed with the multiple rainbow colours and become monotone.
The marketing strategies were kept innovative; focusing on the revolutionary aspects of the products and avoiding points that made the messaging boring, geeky or monotonous. The marketing expanded to different areas like lifestyle and fashion to break free from stereotypic technology journalism and appeal to the end customer audiences of multiple sectors.
The rebranding worked like magic and turned an almost bankrupt company into a profitable industry behemoth. The new Apple was simple, shiny, new, and very very effective.
Hero Honda Separation:
The Japanese Honda Motor Company and the Indian Hero MotoCorp decided to part ways in 2011. The reasons cited was that the Honda, the Japanese counterpart of the coalition was not ready to allow Hero Honda to start their own Research and Development, neither did the coalition allow the export of automobiles to countries except Sri-Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Business drove the break-up but left the new brand a mountain to climb. Gone were the Japanese engineering legacy, the Honda name and racing heritage, and the international models. But post the separation, Hero came out with some excellent rebranding strategies to regain that ground.
They changed their logo, which gave a fresh visual impact. The logo presented a different representation of the “H”, a nod to the all-new Hero. The logo also emphasises the Indian-ness by blending in the quintessentially Indian boys toy, the catapult -also a symbol of leaping forward. The company also collaborated with A.R Rehman to launch their anthem, “Hum may hai hero”, which went viral. With Indian celebrity ambassadors and well-crafted effective marketing campaigns, the company took off. In fact, it now comfortably leads Honda’s own sales in India. A new old brand that’s on the right track even after negotiating some bumps.
Burberry is a classic example of how innovative marketing can turn a bad situation around for a brand. In the early 2000s, Burberry’s name was hackneyed. It was too closely associated with the working class of the British population, dragging down its image, and sales. This was a steep fall from when they used to be the choice of the rich and famous. They were a symbol of luxury and style in several key overseas markets. When things got sour, they used their company’s history to create a new image of the product. Angela Ahrendts took over, and used a strong thread of social media to create a fresh and evolved image of Burberry for a younger, more connected audience.
Live streaming of fashion shows, bright social media updates, and an updated website gave the company a classy digital footprint. Also, they doubled down on their British image by hiring British celebrities to endorse their brands, thus leveraging the essentially British image of the company.
Old Spice’s brand evolution shows how a planned repositioning can help drive a makeover for the whole company. Since 1938 Old Spice has been a staple of the men’s grooming market. With body perfumes and body washes, they enjoyed a great run. In the early 2000s however, the Old Spice brand got stuck with the image of the products of old men. The company faced a crisis in sales. The brand came out with a new marketing strategy, which included appealing to the younger audience and carving out a market in body washes. They hired actor and athlete Isaiah Mustafa to be the face of the product, which was a marvellous decision.
They aired their commercials strategically during the super bowl, which also proved to be successful. The ads were tongue-in-cheek, deliberately over the top, and subtly making a joke at their own earlier “manly” image. The irreverence effectively delivered the message of the innate freshness of the product to the younger audience in a language, tone, and meter that they understood. This, clearly, was the man they wanted their man to smell like!
The Indian consumer has been exposed to so many disruptions in the last few years driven by the telecom and the internet revolution, and has embraced them all. This has placed huge pressure on the telecom companies that address the rapidly changing needs, motivations, and, even, values of these consumers. Airtel Telecom has undergone rebranding to keep pace, with constant changes in the logo, Airtel anthems, and celebrity endorsements over the years.
The brand’s tagline was changed from ‘Touch Tomorrow’ to ‘Live Every Moment’ to reach today’s internet generation. The plans they sold were named ‘Freedom Unlimited’, to give a fresh, younger and international vibe to the brand. The logo was changed to reflect the more free, less rigid persona.
It’s been said often that the only thing constant is change. This is true of brands as well. Branding is linked to the audience, the market and how they view the brand. That being the case, changes in the dynamics of the market will force the brand to alter its branding too. As these examples show, that can be a great new beginning too.
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