4 elements of a successful brand refresh

To successfully reinvent your brand, you need to rethink your approach to the product, history, culture, and customer. Brand bounces often seem straightforward, logical, and inevitable when taught in business school classes and cited in the media. But few revival attempts are successful, and in the rare event that they are successful, it usually takes years or decades to show significant results.

Notable brands, such as Apple, Gucci and McDonald’s, have renewed their marketing strategy and successfully renewed customer interest. Each of these companies has succeeded by focusing on a new approach to the product, history, culture and customer. Fueled by organizational and operational changes, these four elements have become the pillars of a sustained recovery of brands.

Start with the product

Throughout Gucci’s 101-year history, the fashion retailer’s popularity has risen and fallen, and its business results have weakened and rebounded. Today, Gucci is the second largest luxury brand in the world. Its most recent revival began in 2015 with the appointments of CEO Marco Bizzarri and Creative Director Alessandro Michele. The changes they made in this first year – including a new creative vision, store renovations and enhanced digital offerings – resulted in an annual increase in revenue of 7.8%, an annual increase in operating profit of 21 , 7% and an increase of 86% from the first quarter online. sales compared to the same periods in 2015.

When Michele took charge of Gucci’s creation, he created the Gucci Look: an androgynous, hippie, rebirth of flowers and sequins, glamor and sequins, surprise and whimsy, subversion and expression. creative, accessories and prints reminiscent of equestrian motifs. Today, this maximalist neo-romantic look is instantly recognizable as the epitome of Gucci on the streets and on the catwalks. “I feel Gucci!” and “It’s so Gucci! Are part of our cultural lexicon.

Apple has undergone a similar product transformation. Shortly after returning to Apple in 1997, Steve Jobs called a meeting and lambasted his employees. “Do you know what’s wrong with this business?” ” he request. “The products suck. There is no more sex in them. This meeting would have inspired the invention of the iMac. In the first five months of the iMac’s existence, Apple sold 800,000 units, making a profit of $ 309 million in 1998 and $ 601 million in 1999. The iMac made its mark on the market. return to profitability.

Apple and Gucci have understood that a signature brand aesthetic is crucial for a brand revival. The more defined the aesthetic, the more curatorial it offers for design, merchandising and styling, and the more it allows these functions to align to deliver a new, shared brand experience. The aesthetic of an iconic brand translates into commodities, which are the purest distillation of what a brand is. For Gucci, those products are the GG Marmont and Soho bags, the Princetown slippers and loafers, the GG belt, the GG canvas print, and the 1970s-inspired suits and dresses. For Apple, those building blocks are the Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods.

These brand building blocks help focus updates. Every brand, no matter what products they sell, should develop building blocks like these as they attempt to rebuild their brand. Even fast food outlets offer signature products. McDonald’s offers the Big Mac, McNuggets, and fries, but struggled in the early 2010s as it tried to expand its menu to attract a larger audience. In 2015, McDonald’s reduces its menu offering and focuses on price and quality. The “less but better” decision helped McDonald’s sales to surpass $ 100 billion in 2019 and its operating margin to increase 43% year-over-year. Since focusing on commodities, McDonald’s market value has nearly doubled to $ 160 billion.

Refine your brand story

A clear and compelling brand story gives products context and storytelling, which can help increase their desirability. When a brand sells products, it sells a story. When consumers buy products, they buy into this story. History unifies the organization internally and streamlines decision making. He connects the brand’s editorial to its product collections, leads the design to incorporate narrative anchors (like a recognizable pattern, clasp, color or stitching) into products, and streamlines merchandising, style and design. marketing. Besides being a valuable brand motto, brand storytelling is also essential for customer acquisition and retention. Once consumers buy into a brand story, they are less likely to leave or change than when they simply buy a product.

When Michele took charge of Gucci’s creation, he immediately began to revolutionize the brand’s narrative. He changed the Gucci brand’s narrative from an overt focus on sexuality to a clearly defined, dreamlike and aesthetically excessive maximalist universe. Its story takes place in a world of secret gardens and mythical creatures. Crystals, frills, bright colors and baby dragons are all aspects of the Gucci brand. Its extremely creative, eclectic and inclusive world is systematically featured in stores such as the Gucci Garden, a museum-like experience inside the Palazzo della Mercanzia, which sells only unique items; Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, a series of upscale contemporary restaurants; and its 483 other global stores. In 2016, following Michele’s appointment, sales in directly-operated stores increased 28.2% in the fourth quarter, with all regions performing well. The rapid growth in sales, Gucci’s fastest in the past 20 years, is directly linked to the new history of the Gucci brand.

Connect with pop culture

Cultural hooks reflect a brand’s role in the world and ensure its credibility with its target audiences. McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc has often said, “We’re not in the burger business. We are in show business. McDonalds recently collaborated with celebrities J Baldwin, Travis Scott and BTS on the “Famous Orders” collaboration, which named Value Meals after celebrities.

While the new and trendy ties to pop culture help revitalize struggling brands, the fastest way to get back to cultural relevance is for them to deconstruct what made the brand successful in the first place. The brand archives are a gold mine of beloved and often abandoned brand classics. As a brand grows and matures, it often overlooks the spark that started it all. Old favorites that are part of the brand’s tradition have the power to quickly re-engage both old and new fans by tapping into their real or invented nostalgia.

The Gucci 100 centenary campaign paid tribute to the brand’s history and its impact on pop culture. It featured an exclusive collection of items reminiscent of the brand’s fashion century. Gucci launched 100 pop-up stores and Spotify and Apple playlists featuring music that paid homage to the company’s enduring aesthetic. By evoking the brand’s themes through music, while mixing them with new and archival Gucci products, Gucci has built on its heritage and extended the life cycles of its products.

This strategy can help transport a brand’s story to the present and remind people of the product innovations that made the brand strong in the first place. But it’s not enough to just remix old products. Brands must pass this heritage on to new customers and modern values. Gucci recently launched Vault, a site where the brand mixes old favorites with new designers who emphasize Gucci brand values, such as diversity, gender neutrality and sustainability.

Know your customer

Apple, Gucci, and McDonald’s all had one thing in common when they began revitalizing their brand: They fully understood what their respective customers wanted. It is not always an easy undertaking. Companies have a lot of customer data, but they often lack customer knowledge. Customer data is found in different organizational functions that do not speak to each other, and when presented, it is usually difficult to digest and take action. To bridge this gap, brands need to create a customer framework that is directional, actionable, and speaks to multiple internal stakeholders at once. This framework translates quantitative data into qualitative information that is just as understandable to product designers as it is to media buyers, creatives, and merchandisers.

The first step in the process of creating an actionable customer framework is to focus on the key target customers and deepen their motivations and interests, their media habits and key influences, key points of purchase and barriers to lending. ‘purchase. Identify the top features they value, including attributes like fashion, functionality, comfort, and status signaling. It will be different for each brand, which is why it is essential that any brand attempting a return does this research before making any critical planning decisions.

Successful brand revival doesn’t happen in an instant. There is no shortcut. There is only one continuum of strategic, creative, and operational decisions that, if executed consistently, set a brand on the path to cultural relevance, consumer love, and business success. This story is much less exciting to tell, but much more effective in the long run.

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