Does your brand need reinvented or reignited?

by Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

Pepsi has an identity crisis. They don’t know who they really are. As a result, they’ve embarked on an extensive research and rebranding effort that was recently released in their first ads early May. Their main brand position, “Timely”. The tagline, “Live for now.” Whether if this will reverse the slide of their #3 position (behind Coke and Diet Coke as the top two global brands in soda) time will tell. This leads to the main question, when does a company need to reinvent their brand and when does it need to reignite it? What’s the difference? Here are my thoughts:

• Rebrand – This is the most radical approach. At it’s core, rebranding tells the world that your original purpose for being is no longer relevant and delivers no demonstrative value. In other words, you’re a commodity. This can happen for a variety of reasons, a brand wasn’t clearly defined to begin with, new ownership/leadership decides to take the company in a different direction, the current brand is so damaged it’s beyond repair or just pure neglect.

• Reignite – This strategy looks back to what made the company great in the first place. It looks to the founding purpose of the brand, why it was created and why customers loved it. The pilot light of a brand could go out for reasons such as arrogance – thinking they are great and don’t have to try anymore, where they are is good enough or just pure neglect (same as Rebrand).

The big question is, do you know the health of your brand? Do you know if you need to completely overhaul your brand and start over or look back and recapture the magic that made you loved by your customers in the first place? Here are a couple of examples:

Altria (Rebrand) – With the onslaught of the anit-tobacco movement, Philip-Morris was under siege along with their competitors. Just about any well known tobacco brand became toxic (pun intended) to media outlets (advertising) and the public. Knowing it was a lost cause to turn the Philip-Morris brand into something beyond “cancer”, the leadership decided to completely rebrand the company. Altria was born. It has been successful, for the most part, to portray a softer image and to keep out of the headlines. The company was now able to tell a story of responsible marketing, environmentally friendly growing and harvesting techniques and being open and transparent with consumers and the government. Before, Philip-Morris brand could not convincingly say they were responsible and transparent. A rebrand strategy was chosen to give the company a fresh start.

Apple (Reignite) – With the departure of Steve Jobs as CEO in the 90’s, Apple went into a tail spin and almost ceased to exist. Fortunately, Apple’s board brought Steve back to help save the company that he has started. The one thing that he did that most people overlooked was Steve didn’t start with radical innovations to bring back the company. It wasn’t the iPod, the iPhone or the App Store that drove Apple success when Steve took over the company. He went back to the magic what made Apple special to begin with, the Mac. Steve Jobs took Apple back to the future and reignited their heritage of simple innovation, “the computer for the rest of us”. He kept with the same formula that worked before, elegant design, simplicity and cool innovation and developed the iMac. Reigniting the magic of Apple is what created the range of i-products and has turned Apple into the most valuable brand on earth today.

When you take a look at your brand, are you getting the results you want? Do customers “love” you? Do you still fulfill a relevant purpose to the world? If you can’t say “yes” to these questions, it’s time to take a closer look at your brand and see what approach is best to achieve the success you envision. As for Pepsi, my opinion is they are still lost.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

2 Responses to “Does your brand need reinvented or reignited?”

  1. Tony,

    Excellent post. I do agree that it comes down to two options: rebrand or revitalize.

    Seems to me, though, that many companies have a difficult time discerning which path to take and choose shades of grey in between. The tell tale signs are a declining industry or eroding sales. But instead of looking to the horizon and making the hard decisions early on to reinvent themselves and stay relevant, the tendancy is to take the easy road and focus on defensive strategies to protect their market share by making incremental improvements to their core competencies. Unfortunately, like Kodak, it then becomes too late to do either.

    • Jay, thank you for your time and the reply. You make an excellent point about companies becoming defensive and digging in to the idea of “this is the way we’ve always done things”, instead of being honest with themselves, read the signs objectively and watch the marketplace to see where the winds are shifting. One thing for sure in today’s business climate and for the next couple of decades, the business environment will be in constant flux and change. No longer will there be the smooth calm that the 70’s-90’s brought.Thanks again for sharing your ideas.

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