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How to Fix a Broken Brand

In early 2002, Scott Bedbury offered nine ways to fix a broken brand. Yesterday, Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge published a piece on second acts for old brands. They're an interesting comparative read. First, Bedbury's nine points of exploration:

  • I know that my brand is broken — I just don't know why.
  • My brand changes direction with each new product and marketing campaign. Everything is disconnected and off on different tangents. How do I keep it cohesive?
  • My brand is boring. It doesn't create excitement in my customers or in my employees. (And it's been a long time since it excited anyone on Wall Street.)
  • My brand is dead.
  • My brand is stuck in the past.
  • My brand is too narrow.
  • My brand is immature.
  • My brand isn't cool.

As a corollary, Jeff Himmel, chairman of the Himmel Group, which has helped turn around brands such as Ovaltine (yum) and Lavoris (huh?), offers the following 12 "musts":

  • Point of difference. Will consumers buy this product instead of another brand?
  • Unique selling proposition. Does the product tell a unique story?
  • Make the brand stand out.
  • Dominant share of advertising.
  • Frequency of advertising. Make sure the message about your product is repeated over and over to the public.
  • Listen to the consumer, and then listen again more carefully.
  • Produce creative advertising that strikes a chord with the consumer.
  • Control commercial production costs. (He tends to only spend about $2,000 producing a commercial.)
  • Use your money to place ads, not make ads, and get a dominant share of advertising.
  • Live in a state of perpetual paranoia and always know what your competitors are doing.
  • Consider the X factors about your product. For example, does it have an existing distribution, or will it have to be created from scratch?
  • Have discipline to follow all the points on this list.

While Himmel's list seems more tactical than strategic in nature — and seems to address other traditional sales and marketing concerns as well — the two approaches work well together. While Bedbury may be more descriptive — in terms of identifying why a brand isn't working — Himmel's prescriptive advice may go far to help fix a broken brand.

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  • Jennifer Rice

    My take on the list is that it's geared almost exclusively to consumer packaged goods and focused heavily on the advertising component of branding. Often CPGs don't have clear-cut points of difference, and there's no real 'brand experience' as found in most B2B, service, technology, retail or hospitality businesses. The latter need to look more deeply to revive their brands.

  • Brand Guy

    Ahem - $2,000 to produce a commercial

    Is this an article from the Fast Company archive circa 1911?