It might be almost blasphemous to talk about letting go of old brand equity and laying an old brand to rest, but there are times when change is needed. Reformulating and re-designing, or even overhauling an old brand can be a wise decision. If sales are flat and show no sign of growth, you’d better stop kidding yourself and hire a branding consultant.
Brands are an extremely vital element in your product and corporate value proposition. With communications so pervasive today, corporate branding and product branding are becoming fused as one. Corporate brands are increasingly powering product brands and product sales and that pose some substantial risk, as those sub brands can’t be as easily re-positioned when they falter.
As time passes, culture changes, new technologies and new competing brands appear and they change the perception of value that is available in a marketplace. Old sales propositions won’t fly in the face of 20 or more other competitors offering the same benefits and features. With cultural, economic, technology changes, and corporate changes, your aging brand image and brand equity may end up doing more harm than good. Your former branding successes could leave your brand and company stuck in the past.
A good example of age related branding problem is in the realm of computer products. I recently bought a new laptop computer because my old one just couldn’t keep up with my multitasking and other work needs. At the retail store, there were computers with Intel or AMD microprocessors to choose from. The key matter wasn’t really microprocessor speed or capability. In the past, the Intel logo would have compelled me to buy only computers with their processors regardless of what other features were available in the computer. The Intel brand was clearly in a class by itself. Not this time. This AMD powered computer was low priced and had the memory I required along with other features such as a 100 Gb hard drive, high-resolution screen, numerous ports and adapters and a long lasting battery. It only weighs a couple of pounds and the AMD logo seemed to look better too. It says: AMD Turion 64 Mobile Technology. 64 bits and mobile compatibility. Why doesn’t Intel mention that on the computer they have their products in?
Laptops are hot and prices are falling. My 15-year-old nephew just bought his first laptop on eBay, since they are cheaper and more accessible. So the whole “culture” of shopping and purchasing computers has changed.
Everyone is buying high-resolution screens and I was eager to ease my eyestrain from long hours of viewing everyday. The huge hard drive was great and the laptop looks good too. The old Intel brand just didn’t have the effect it once did, and their competitor, AMD, just sold one of their processors. The laptop is working great and now Intel processors don’t dictate which computer I’ll buy.
To me, the Intel logo and brand brings back memories of old Pentium computers. This is worsened by the fact that today’s processors have changed and they are running at lower speeds. This confuses the speed benefit that Intel had its brand positioned around. The technology change in viewing screens, memory, and processor use in the computer has moved the market away from where Intel was positioned. The Intel corporate brand powers sales of their new processors, but they can call those new products anything they want and it won’t effective my decision.
What Intel needs to do now, is to associate its processors with the features and benefits that consumers and B2B buyers make decisions upon. Computer branding is not all about the processors anymore and the old Intel brand image is deeply tied to old technology. Even the brand name Pentium is associated with the computer culture of the 90’s.
Here’s the issue: the old Intel brand was so successful in 90’s that it’s trapped Intel in a time warp. Intel needs new branding that ties it to the future, not the past. To get there, they are probably going to have to jettison the past.
Google is a good example of modern branding and a brand that is not tied solely to web search engines. The brand is now diversified strategically to associate it with everything people are doing on the web. Google is omnipresent, and its brand image is solely in its relevance to the current Internet culture. Google won’t let its common search engine role diminish its branding power.
Hanging onto to Old Branding Concepts
There’s a lot of reason why brand managers, CEO’s, and marketing managers resist rethinking their branding and redeveloping their brands. Most often, they don’t want to leave their comfort zone and risk a short-term blip in profit. Some don’t want to make an investment in hiring a branding consultant to look at the options. Branding experts examine a brand to discover its current problems, the culture of the marketplace, and to determine if a new brand identity or brand positioning would be fruitful. Some old brands are doomed, but most are just stale and not in tune with the target market. A branding consultant can provide crucial insight into market perception, brand value building, brand loyalty development, and to discover the brand value proposition that could breathe new life into your brands.