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.