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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.