Skip to main content

Repositioning a brand.

Last week BD’M presented a deep dive into brand repositioning case studies to identify the strategies that drive success, as well as the mistakes marketers must avoid.

Dave Daily, Christine Dennis and Amber Greenwalt worked with me on researching these cases. We examined repositioning efforts over the last several years across a range of CPG, B2B and corporate brands.
As a starting point we isolated the most common strategies that marketers employ, levers that are often used in tandem for maximum effect:
  • New visual identity
  • New meaning and context.
  • New behaviors (distribution, media, promotion, product, etc).
  • New target audience.
  • New pricing.
After examining each of these brands we identified seven success factors shared by many of these marketers, and some cautionary notes:
  1. Clearly define the problem. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. (Walmart did this particularly well.)
  2. Find a new positioning from within the truth of the brand. Be credible. No skin grafts. (Cisco is a good example of extending a core brand truth.)
  3. Create tight alignment throughout the value chain. The experience must line up with the advertising. (Few have done this better than Target. Sun Chips is another interesting example.)
  4. Change behavior, not just words and symbols. Provide tangible evidence of change. (Hyundai nailed this several times over. As did Old Spice.)
  5. Seek inspiration from your best customers. (Holiday Inn conducted extensive research among customers. )
  6. Execute a seamless re-launch, no patchwork roll-out. (Holiday Inn seems to be doing this well, with real penalties for franchisees that do not meet spec.)
  7. Pre-plan Phase 2 of the re-launch. Demonstrate continuous improvement. (Hyundai has successfully sequenced image-shifting initiatives over time.)
This is just a executive summary of the presentation. If you are a marketer contemplating a repositioning in 2010, please drop me a note ( or tweet (@wikimurph). We'll be happy to share our full findings and implications, as well as examples of repositioning work we've executed for brands such as United Airlines and Applied Materials.


Matt Stengel said…

Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog and really enjoyed reading this latest post about repositioning since I recently wrote a post for my own blog about Liberty Mutual's current "Responsibility" campaign and the great job they've done of creating an authentic brand message to reposition themselves. What are your thoughts on this brand/campaign? Just curious. Look forward to reading future posts.

Matt Stengel

Popular posts from this blog

What makes a premium brand premium?

I was thinking the other day about the DNA of premium brands . One thing is certain -- it's a relative idea. For example, Hyatt is not a premium brand if you're used to staying at a W or a Ritz Carlton. But if your vacations to date have been holed up in a Holiday Inn, then by all means a stay in a Hyatt is a premium experience. Another thing is certain -- a brand is considered premium only when we believe it is worth the price. And that's where we can dig deeper. Why are we willing to pay more for a product when there are others that provide the same service or function at a lesser price? I have spent a good part of my marketing career developing strategies and ideas for a wide range of  premium brands, including American Express, Sony, Callaway Golf, Hilton, Jaguar, Land Rover – even the Toyota Prius.  Through these experiences I have come to believe that a premium brand is built upon specific tangible and intangible attributes that give it a sense wort

Super game. Dull ads

As a passionate Giants fan it is safe to say that I had a good time yesterday. But as an advertising professional I felt a bit underwhelmed by the caliber of the advertising . Many were entertaining. But few possessed that intangible Super Bowl-ness...big, pop-cultural, fun. Even fewer seemed to have anything relevant to say about the brand, such as the Planters "uni-brow" spot. I loved the Bridgestone "screaming animals" spot, but it would have been a much better spot for the Saab featured in the spot than the tires the car rode upon. As for Bud, good spots, but I've seen the dog and horse thing before. Tide's talking stain was funny, but did it have Super Bowl-ness? My fav? The Coke "balloon float" spot. It was classic Coke (for Coke Classic). Big. Entertaining. Unexpected twist. Utterly charming. And Charlie Brown finally won something. Coke is about smiles. And that spot was just that. The Audi spot that I wrote about last week liv

Marketing as a service.

What if we re-imagined marketing as a way to serve customers?  What if we designed it as a way to provide real-time value and utility to customers? Our SXSW panel at explored these issues and more.  Marketing as a service harnesses Big Data to provide more meaningful and helpful experiences for customers.  It is a principle born of the belief that the dynamics of customer loyalty have fundamentally changed.  Loyalty can no longer be solely defined by customers staying loyal to a brand.  Because the internet provides us with unlimited choice, the tables have turned – brands must now demonstrate their loyalty to customers by serving them.