Note to readers: Our latest column Marketing Mocktail breaks down and explains the big ideas, new disruptions and old concepts and marketing practices that matter in the modern age.
Brands often need to refresh themselves when they start getting tired and stale.
While there are plenty of models on brand refreshment, in both industry and academia, here are five simple steps for refreshing a brand:
Step -1: Define the core issue - Why do you need to refresh the brand?
Is the market changing? Is the consumer changing? Has the competition redefined the category? Is technology changing? Has the brand lost its differentiation and relevance?
The answers to these questions will help you define the issue in the form of a problem, or an opportunity that your brand needs to address.
Step - 2: Get Insights from Brand Rejecters - Why are people rejecting the brand?
Bill Gates famously said, “Your most unhappy customers are your best source of learning.” Rejecters of your brand are a great place to begin your search. Use a combination of formal and informal research, both qualitative and quantitative to analyse and draw insights.
Find out what they dislike about the brand? Why do they choose other brands over yours?
Do they like anything at all about your brand? What would make them reconsider your brand?
Step - 3: Get Insights from Brand Lovers - Why are some people still connecting with the brand?
Despite the changes and shifts, there will always be people who still buy and love your brand (even if they are in a minority). After all, these loyalists of your brand are still staying with you despite other choices. Something in the brand must be working for them.
Understand what they love about it? Why are they continuing to choose you over other brands? What will make them stay with your brand?
Step - 4: Do the RDA Analysis
The discoveries and insights from the earlier steps will enable you to develop a ‘Retain-Divest-Acquire’ (RDA) analysis of your brand by applying the following framework:
The RDA Analysis Table
Step - 5: Recraft Brand Elements
In alignment with the RDA Analysis, the final step is to recraft one or more of the key elements as appropriate:
Brand Physique: How does the brand appear externally? Brand identity codes, products and services.
Brand Positioning: What role does the brand play in my life? Key benefit of the brand.
Brand Personality: What does the brand stand for? Values and character of the brand.
Applying the Framework
Let’s take an example of a leading premium men’s apparel brand that was positioned as the ‘voice of authority on formal dressing’ for the corporate executive. After decades of growth the brands started seeing a decline.
Sales had started declining, because the brand’s core consumer segment of corporate executives had become younger, due to demographic shifts in the population. Their market had shifted from ‘Baby Boomers’ to ‘Millennials’ and the brand had stopped connecting with the young, new age professionals.
Brand Rejectors’ POV:
The main reason for the disconnect with the new age professionals was that they saw it as their ‘Dad’s Brand’. It did not resonate with the attitudes and lifestyle of the younger audience. The brand was perceived as ‘too formal, stiff and boring’ for their liking because corporate dressing was no longer ultra formal.
Brand Lovers’ POV:
A few young professionals who still loved and purchased the brand were attracted to the pedigree, legacy, and craftsmanship that the brand stood for over its 100-year existence. This was what they still held dear and were not lured away by the flamboyant and trendier brands.
The RDA Analysis Table
Physique: Brand Identity - the logo was made more edgy.
Product Portfolio - vibrant colors, trendy styles and a semi formal collection were introduced.
Positioning: the brand was repositioned as an ‘expression of the ambitious, new age professional, who still values pedigree and craftsmanship’.
Personality: The brand shifted its persona from being the ‘voice of authority on formal dressing’ to a ‘passionate ally of the new age professional’.
The proposed 5-Step Framework is designed to refresh brands to remain competitive in today’s VUCA world. Chris Locke, in his book The Cluetrain Manifesto says, “The bottom line is that markets are changing much faster than marketing”. Brands cannot afford to get stuck in a time warp and must adapt to the changes around them.
Anand Narasimha is a corporate turned academician with over three decades of experience spanning Brand Marketing, Advertising, Consulting, and Teaching. He writes the column Marketing Mocktail for Storyboard18. Views expressed are personal.