When to Kill the Brand and When to Reinvent

When to Kill the Brand and When to Reinvent

You created a new category and you are the leading brand.

But that unique category of yours that grabbed so much attention is not so unique anymore. Sales have been steadily declining. Every new promotional campaign seems to fall on deaf ears.

It is time to realistically assess your brand’s value in the marketplace, diagnose its weaknesses, and decide whether to euthanize it or reinvent it. When a brand goes awry, it goes awry for a specific and consistent set of reasons that are identifiable, quantifiable and comprehensible. Sometimes what’s called for is examining your brand under a microscope, rather than scanning the horizon with binoculars.

How do you know if it is time to put your brand out of its misery? These litmus tests will help you decide:

1. If the category is dead, pull the plug.

2. If the brand and the ideas it stands for is obsolete, pull the plug, even if the brand is “well-known.” Well-known does not necessarily translate to continued profits and long-term equity.

3. If the brand has generated lackluster sales for years, is wellknown, but has never really owned an idea in the public’s mind, pull the plug. No brand lives forever. Instead of investing time and money in resuscitating an obsolete brand—an effort which will almost certainly fail—invest your resources in your next brand, your next category. Invest in the future.

That said, it is absolutely possible to save a brand that passes these litmus tests. There is a difference between an ailing brand and an obsolete brand. Losing the leadership position doesn’t destroy a brand. In most markets, there is a lot of money to be made in the #2 and #3 slots. And the truth is, most customers have no idea who the #1 brand is. If they are loyal to your brand, they figure it is you. Do Pepsi-lovers know that Coke is the cola category leader? Do they care? If they knew, would they stop drinking Pepsi?

If you own an idea in the marketplace, and that idea isn’t obsolete, reinvent and reinvigorate the brand. But if your decision is to reinvent, get on with it. Don’t lose any more time. And do it with gusto, or don’t bother. Minute tinkerings will not save an ailing brand.

Clever reinventions become brand advancements that continue to contribute to market dominance, year after year. The key to reinvention is capitalizing on your brand equity before it deteriorates in the marketplace. Do not wait until the brand is in trouble. Reinvent cyclically, like clockwork. It is one of the best strategies going for maintaining brand leadership.

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