It’s no accident that certain brands continue to command a leadership position in their industries, in passionate consumer sales and in the stock market. Such companies have solid product offerings, a strong investment in R&D to maintain their innovative edge, and exceptional investment in marketing that positions their brand most ideally to their target audiences.
While prior blog posts have discussed merely the logo redesign, the truth is that branding extends far beyond the simplistic mark. Some companies will refresh their ad campaigns, while others will recreate physical spaces to ensure that the brand experience continues across all touch-points. Nowhere is this more evident than in the hospitality industry, where brands are constantly evolving to meet the changing demographic of guests. Howard Johnson is one such example. Most notably recalled for its iconic orange roof, this family brand has transitioned into a Wydham Worldwide brand where little remains as an historical reference.
Another great example from the consumer space is Proctor and Gamble’s Old Spice, where the brand has expanded its product lines and brought in Terry Crews in wild commercials.
They changed their space from ‘your father’s aftershave’ to a ‘guiding you through manhood’ youthful brand in direct competition with the Unilever Axe line of body products. Old Spice was able to salvage their original jingle, adapting it to use a keyword, “Pa- pa- pa- pa- pa- pa- Power”.
Old Spice vs Axe market share information is difficult to locate because of the wide product ranges, but the Old Spice Facebook page has 2.5M fans, while the Axe Facebook page has 4.2M fans – which I’m certain correlates somewhat to their market shares.
Another brand that had image problems and was on the verge of bankruptcy was Harley Davidson. In 1982, Harley was $90M in debt. For 2013, due to focus on efficiency and quality, Harley Davidson boasts a Net income of $270M from $3.37B in revenue. This change in focus, started by Richard F. Teerlink, the former CFO turned CEO, is continued today by current CEO Keith Wandell. While the focus internally was on quality, however, externally the brand has experienced a significant audience change. No longer the exclusive ride of The Hells Angels, Pagans, Outlaws and Bandidos, the Harley Davidson has become the preferred ride for middle-class, white collar workers who can afford the $10K-35K+ sticker for a recreational vehicle. Furthermore, Harley has expanded its recreational appeal through customer focused apparel and events that support this fan-base community and rebel lifestyle and operational excellence. In fact, General Merchandise revenue, which contains branded apparel, was up 19.2% over the course of one year. Where bike customization used to be an aftermarket self-expression of artistry, that power has been extended to anyone, with Factory Customization and personalization right on the website.
In every instance, the key to growth and re-invigorating a sleepy brand relies on the vision and mission of leaders, and their ability to communicate that plan to employees, the media and target audiences and execute the brand promise in the eyes of its customer. Define the brand with key words that resonate with your target audience. Create an integrated marketing strategy that brings those key words to life in the mind of the audience and have an effective call to action. Brand attributes are essential components of driving relevance and ultimately revenue. Operational Execution against customer expectations built on brand expectations is the recipe for success.