[This is the first in a five-part series from Jump Associates.—Ed.] Large companies looking to jump-start growth tend to be more successful when reinventing an existing brand than creating one from whole cloth. However, not all brands have the same potential for growth through revitalization. All too often, at the sight of declining sales, the knee-jerk reaction is to try to reinvent a brand without asking if it’s worth the investment in the first place. Asking these five questions will help companies determine which businesses are worth investing in—and which ones to leave behind.
A clear value proposition can make a brand refresh harder.
1. Can its value proposition be redefined?Increasing a brand’s relevance to a greater number of people is one way to grow the business. But some propositions are more easily redefined than others. In fact, sometimes a clear proposition can actually make it harder for a brand to refresh its image. One approach is to take a brand focused on a functional benefit, and redefine it around an emotional benefit. For example, prior to Dove’s 2006 “Campaign for Real Beauty,” Dove’s point of differentiation was a functional one: with moisturizing cream, its products were uniquely suited to cleanse skin without drying it out. With the brand refresh, Dove’s new proposition of supporting authentic beauty appealed to a broader swath of women at an emotional level. The new positioning increased sales of Dove products in the U.S. and abroad by 700%.
2. Is the category growing, or does it demonstrate growth potential?Often, businesses undergo a reinvention in order to make strides into a growing category. Any new category won’t do, however. The brand must already demonstrate a right to play based on existing competencies or equities. K-Y Jelly began as a surgical lubricant preferred by doctors because of its water- soluble base. Although Johnson & Johnson began marketing a consumer (nonsterile) version of the product in the 1980s, it took another two decades for the company to realize how lucrative a brand K-Y could become if they would just embrace K-Y’s role as a sexual lubricant. In order to do so, the company completely shut down its medical business, rebranded its identity in 2004, and added climax-enhancing gels and massage oils to its product line.
3. Is it on trend?Brands on the wrong side of history, like Hummer in an age of environmental consciousness, are difficult to align with growing trends. The investment that’s potentially required to change perceptions of a strong brand may not be worth it. Companies are often better off acquiring or creating a new brand to tap into the trend. In the case of Sierra Mist, however, parent company PepsiCo saw the writing on the wall in the political and social clamor around healthy eating. Sierra Mist—a lemon-lime-flavored carbonated soft drink—was an obvious brand to kick off PepsiCo’s new commitment to health. PepsiCo re-launched it in 2010 as Sierra Mist Natural, a caffeine-free and all-natural formulation sweetened with real cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. In its first six months on the market, sales of Sierra Mist Natural experienced double-digit growth and made up for previous years’ decline in sales.
4. Is its revenue sizable?Although past performance does not guarantee future success, sizable sales figures may suggest underutilized consumer love. A brand that demonstrates the ability to generate strong sales should be built into a more robust business.
pull wrote:P&G did this after having initial success with the launch of Febreze Fabric Refresher in 1998. Market research confirmed that Febreze fulfilled an unmet consumer need. More surprising, though, was the discovery that consumers were using the product not just in the laundry room but in every other room in their homes. P&G followed up with several new products, such as odor-eliminating air fresheners and candles, and line extensions, including a variety of fragrances to accommodate different tolerance levels for scent. Today, Febreze is one of P&G’s billion-dollar brands.
Its hard to grow any brand, like Hummer, that's on the wrong side of history.