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Guest Column: Reinvent but retain legacy

05-July-2012
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Guest Column: Reinvent but retain legacy

The importance of re-branding has never been more relevant than in today’s fast paced and ever evolving marketplace. Re-branding throws up an opportunity for a brand that wishes to move away from out-dated values, stay relevant and contemporary and breathe afresh. The entire process requires a great understanding of and empathy with consumers, a perspective or point-of-view on the future, a terrific design and creative partner, followed by an orchestrated and flawless execution.

Baby steps: Starting right

The first step is to examine the legacy of the product. The secret to re-branding is to reinvent a brand without losing/weakening those attributes that have worked for it in the past. So, what part of the family silver needs to be retained and which parts to be junked is a dilemma to be grappled with.

A comprehensive understanding of current brand equity, personality and emotions generated by the brand is what every brand manager may be well-versed with. This would be the core set of values that is intrinsic and unique to a brand, building on which would be the key success factor in a re-branding exercise. It took generations for Bajaj Auto to build the ‘Hamara Bajaj’ property; abandoning it was a leap of faith, proving that courage and idiocy are two sides of the same coin.

Tell me why: Being brutally honest
Once clear on the legacy that needs to be held onto, the exact reason behind the re-branding should be defined and articulated. The task is very different for a product that has added a ‘wonder’ ingredient to a large, complex multi-product company which requires a cultural change. A brand needs to be careful and avoid the trap of attempting to re-brand if a small change in the core product or service proposition is all that is required to be communicated. The Board will not be kind to lazy managerial thinking especially when it involves investing company resources.

For today, for tomorrow: Building for the future
Once the new identity is created, consumer preferences in terms of signage/store design/packaging/caller ring tune and the rest are integrated to develop the new avatar, post comprehensive market research. The next stage is testing. It is very easy to fall in love with one’s own idea, but the danger lies in being unaligned with the capricious consumer. Therefore, it first needs to be run past the internal audience, your stakeholders. Investing money in a re-branding is a brave management decision and the key is to create a brand vision which will stand the test of time.

One and all: Beyond the brand department
The key to the success of re-branding is to develop cross functional partnerships across the company with opinion leaders and enthusiastic managers who will be aligned and champion the exercise. It’s a life truth that Brand Heads are the custodians, never the owners of a brand. Just like Mahindra Rise, a movement has the potential to cascade the message powerfully across the key stakeholders.

‘Just change the logo’ vs. A cultural change movement
The creative and media partners must ensure that objectivity should be at the core of all decision-making to drive consistent flow of key messages. Re-branding is not a mere logo-change execution exercise, but a comprehensive move that requires uniformity in message from all communication channels. For a company brand, it requires a cultural change within the organisation; primarily adopting and imbibing the new vision behind the new look. A phased stakeholder communication is what is ideally needed. Further, some elements of the phased communication require to be sustained across some key media for continuous comprehension. Ideally the new look should be a refreshing change that can go beyond the present and into the future

When the service is the product and vice versa
When BPL Mobile transitioned to Loop Mobile, it was critical to not unsettle its existing and loyal subscriber base. The ultimate challenge lay in protecting the brand image while reassuring the consumer that all positive brands attributes remained intact. Only negative associations that reflected poorly on the overall brand have been done away with.The brand must employ a consumer-centric approach with 24X7 CRM to tackle any dissonance that might occur. When your factory is producing something as ephemeral as a minute of time, it pays to have a robust strategy, sparkling design/creative and an inspiring team behind a great vision.

The author is Head – Corporate Affairs, Loop Mobile

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