Reinvention is the Key to Sustaining a Brand

The tragedy of the day is Sears. They are nose-diving with no end in sight. After comparable store sales falling off between 16-17% in 2017, no one can see a way to reverse this trend. Wall Street ‘s collective view is that they will be lucky to survive 2018. They should have focused on reinvention all along.

 

 

What makes this so sad is they were not able to build upon the venerable brand equity established over generations. For much of the last century, Sears was the source of quality and durability for many things. It was literally where America went to shop. Most appliances that our grandparents counted on came from Sears. Their catalog was where Americans bought what they needed. Quality was assured. So powerful was the brand that it could carry the product offering of the “mail order bride”, then used by homesteaders who could look at a Sears and Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalog and order a wife delivered to his home just as easily as an appliance. (The Zoosk, Match.com and eharmony of the time). That’s how embedded the brand was in our culture.

But things changed, and successive leadership never focused on reinvention to keep the brand relevant.

To prevent the erosion of a strong brand, leaders need to constantly evaluate where they are and where markets are headed. Of the powerful brands of the mid-to-late 1900’s, what happened to Kodak, Howard Johnson’s, Polaroid, Borders, and Blockbuster? Imagine the extraordinary brand equity each had built. At In the end, each brand did not manage their business into a changing future. Kodak didn’t believe in the digital revolution. Howard Johnson’s yielded being America’s rest stop to fast food chains, etc.

The big message here is having the forethought and will to acknowledge change can help a company navigate the future. It is about embracing disruption. Great leaders must continually make this a primary responsibility. Particularly with the ever-increasing acceleration of change, the mandate is here, right now.

One significant consulting firm that specializes helping companies focus on the future in a rigorous and strategic manner is Innosight. They have developed formalized processes to look at the future and manage to it. We have seen it in action and it is impressive.

Net… don’t put your head in the sand. Embrace that change will happen, identify what the future will look like and have a strategy to navigate there. If you do this well, you won’t become a Sears.

January 12, 2018   Comments Off on Reinvention is the Key to Sustaining a Brand

Why Brand Strategy Matters Even More Online

To ensure a seamless image, smart brands take responsibility for both the content of their ads, as well as the environment in which their ads appear.

Vigilance is especially necessary online, where intelligent software and e-marketing technologies allow brands to target the user, not the environment. The old adage of ‘fish where the big fish are’ has never been more true. With varying degrees of success.

online content strategy

A friend of mine recently joked on Facebook: ‘If the ads that Facebook so cleverly targets at me are correct, I need to: a. Lose 9kg. b. Buy a motorbike and c. Attend the classic rock concert at Willowbridge Barnyard Theatre. Now that’s artificial unintelligence if ever I saw it.’

She’s a fit, slim, married, mother of two in her 40s, who lives in the suburbs and drives a family-friendly 5-seater VW.

But getting it wrong can have more sinister results. What happens when a brand finds itself in an online environment that potentially undermines its image? [Read more →]

April 30, 2013   Comments Off on Why Brand Strategy Matters Even More Online

Sound Can Be a Powerful Brand Cue… Think “Snap, Crackle, and Pop”

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies famous “Snap, Crackle, Pop” was introduced in 1933. According to a radio ad of the time, “Listen to the fairy song of health, the merry chorus sung by Kellogg’s Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle and pop in a bowl of milk. If you’ve never heard food talking, now is your chance”. It’s arguably the most famous of all brand sounds but there are other great examples of brands that have used sound as a differentiating brand communicator. The well-researched thud of BMW’s door closing is a deliberate effort to communicate quality and a premium positioning. Smart marketers are looking at all aspects of a brand to create a memorable brand experience.

 

Since the 1970’s, most markets are flooded with essentially parity products. The result is a quest for marketers to find ways to drive home differentiation and make their brand more memorable and unique. This is a mandatory in today’s competitive marketplaces. Sound is one key aspect of some brands that can make a significant difference, and it is often over-looked.

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October 25, 2012   Comments Off on Sound Can Be a Powerful Brand Cue… Think “Snap, Crackle, and Pop”

What Branding and PR Professionals Can Teach One Another

“Long-term brand equity and growth depends on our ability to successfully integrate and implement all elements of a comprehensive marketing program.” – Timm F Crull, Chairman & CEO of Nestle

Branding and public relations (PR) professionals have a great deal in common. Branding professionals develop and communicate a promise. PR professionals bring that promise to life through stories, case studies, videos, events and points-of-view. Despite the common ground, branding and PR professionals don’t always collaborate. In some cases, this is because accountabilities reside in different departments. In other cases, it’s because each discipline has its own way of doing things.

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May 1, 2012   Comments Off on What Branding and PR Professionals Can Teach One Another

“Less is More” is the New Paradigm in Building Brands

Who would have predicted that in the year 2012, a silent movie would win the Oscar for Best Picture? The fact that “The Artist” defied the odds is a manifestation of consumers’ demand for “less is more”. Consumers are rejecting the “bigger is better” culture that dominated the late nineties and 2000’s and came crashing down with the global economic crisis. Add to that the daily barrage of information, advertising, news, social media and politics and you have a consumer audience begging for simplicity, less clutter, honesty and integrity.

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February 28, 2012   Comments Off on “Less is More” is the New Paradigm in Building Brands

Why Crowds Now Build Brands

David Brooks insightful Op-Ed article about now living “in the middle of an amazing era of individualism” reveals many emerging truths. For branders, understanding that we live in an increasingly individualistic society puts the burden on brands to position themselves to fit onto someone’s life. Said another way, we can no longer rely to the same degree on the social structures of family, church, community, etc. to validate and help us form preference. Brands need to focus on this more on our own than ever before.

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February 22, 2012   1 Comment

Can Old Stodgy Brands with Negative Perceptions really Reinvent Themselves?

There is only one way for a brand plagued with a negative brand perception to survive – tackle it head on. Acknowledge shortcomings, address the issues externally and internally and take significant actions to fix things. There are many brands that should take this advice to heart. One example is the United States Postal Service.

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August 17, 2011   2 Comments

When Co-Branding Really Works. Bloomberg Businessweek is a powerful combination.

The acquisition of Businessweek by Bloomberg created a natural reason to put both brands together… and it is a good example of when a co-brand strategy can really work. It may seem obvious where it all ended up, but I am sure there was some serious consideration before the dual brand name was engraved in the masthead. Kudos to Bloomberg.

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August 16, 2010   7 Comments

Weathering the Storm. Goldman Sachs and Toyota.

There are many brands we love to hate. Today’s bad-boy brands de rigueur are Goldman Sachs and Toyota. Sure, we constantly complain about some of the mega-brands like Microsoft, Simon Cowell, ExxonMobil, and the New York Yankees, etc. But that reaction is a combination of jealousy of their sheer market power and resentment that we can’t live without them.

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April 21, 2010   38 Comments

Help me save California Pizza Kitchen (CPK)

One of my favorite “casual dining” restaurants announced today that they were looking at strategic alternatives for the company. They need an infusion of capital, but more importantly, they need a better handle on what their brand stands for. [Read more →]

April 12, 2010   9 Comments