Brand revitalisation requires more than a facelift

A brand marketer’s dream has to be the successful revitalisation of a once famous brand that has lost its gloss or perhaps has become simply irrelevant.

Yes, brand creators also have a strong claim for fame and marketing brilliance. Yet one cannot help to admire those who have turned around successfully, brands that appeared to be heading for oblivion.

Among my favourite case studies are Puma and Mercedes Benz, brands with a long and proud history as icons in their respective categories. They also have in common the inspiration and vision shown in revitalisation programs that led to impressive market share recovery.

In the case of Puma, the brand lost its way in the sport shoe market against formidable competitors like Nike and Adidas. There was a time when one started to doubt the survival of Puma. That was until Puma reinvented itself with a clever move beyond sport performance into a new category which they claimed as SportLifestyle. The new generation products delivered against the lifestyle proposition and today one can only admire the positive and creative spirit of the Puma brand. Not to mention reward for the shareholder.

Mercedes Benz never faced a challenge as serious as Puma. Yet as the once leading luxury car brand, it was made to look old-fashioned and for older drivers by challengers BMW and Audi. The Mercedes Benz response was more than a new advertising or PR campaign to counter this formidable challenge from the direct competitors.

First of all there was a new generation of models and designs that forced luxury buyers to reconsider the world’s oldest automotive brand. No longer ‘tank like, boxy cars’ from a conservative German company but models that turned heads and attracted consumers who wanted to be seen in sleek cars with strong emotional appeal.

On the back of this revitalisation of the Mercedes Benz product came cleverly crafted sponsorships like “Fashion Week” in cool cities around the world and a return to success in Formula 1 racing. Gone is the conservative German engineered image and Mercedes Benz has reclaimed its leadership position in the luxury car market.

What these two case studies have in common is that they required a complete rethink on product positioning and consumer relevance before recapturing the emotional appeal of the brands through inspiring brand marketing.

And both brands have a German heritage, with Puma two years older than Mercedes Benz.



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