Guidelines for Revitalizing a Brand

History shows that ignoring or missing a major consumer trend or behavioral shift can have significant detrimental effects on brand survival. Some never recover, but others have learned how to reinvent themselves. Here are some suggestions for revitalizing a brand, from CEOs who have achieved it.

Here today, gone tomorrow. Your once-solid brand takes a hit to its reputation. It could happen to any brand, and for many, it has. But there are also many firms, such as IBM, Apple and McDonald’s, that have been successful at reinventing themselves and rising from the ashes as stronger companies.

A recent example is the turnaround of Italian fashion brand Valentino, for which revenues were up 25 percent in 2012 (to $689 million). CEO Stefano Sassi sat with Business of Fashion to discuss the strategies that drove the company’s growth. His most important decision, Sassi says, was investing in the right people. He brought in a tough management team that overcame the company’s stormy past and filled big shoes while remaining focused on the future.

In manufacturing, revitalization is driven in large part by a commitment to R&D and innovation. According to Booz & Company’s 2013 Global Innovation 1000 Study, R&D spending among companies listed was at its highest level since 2010.

Revitalization may also require internal transformation. John Veihmeyer, chairman and CEO of KPMG, told Chief Executive that the need for transformation to keep up with today’s challenges is simply “the new normal.”

Like Sassi, Veihmeyer says the human element is the most valuable component when revitalizing a brand. “You can get the technology right, you can get all the process design right, but if you fail to focus on the fact that you’re going to be asking your people to change the way they’ve been doing something for 10 years, then you will suboptimize the investment you’re making in everything else.”

Sassi’s conversation with BoF prompts the following suggestions for revitalizing a brand:

  1. Before embarking on a revitalization effort, request an audit of your brand message to ensure it is accurately portrayed worldwide and globally consistent. Have adjustments made as necessary.
  2. Plan to increase your budget over time for hiring experienced customer data analysts. As your database faces exponential growth, insight gleaned is increasingly becoming the primary driver of business decisions.
  3. Invest in the best people who can work in a consistent way on a cohesive vision.
  4. Stay ahead of the curve. Just 14 percent of Booz & Co.’s study respondents use customer immersion labs, but those few “already find them highly effective.” Similarly, automated product usage tools, or sensors, are only being used by 14 percent of respondents, but this also is highly beneficial for those using them.

As a CEO, you are constantly balancing the present with the future, while working through rapid daily change. These simple guidelines can help you with future planning priorities without taking your eye off the day-to-day ball.


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