This is what I hate most, checked online making sure flights are on schedule and only discovered when you get to the airport that it was cancelled. Wonder if the system allows them to send those update to passengers through cell phones. That way I can turn around and drive home. Anyway this has been a productive week. If I can keep my travelling to three days a week that’s pretty good, I do need to spend more time at the office.
I have not been written much on brands since our Advanced Branding Masterclass so I thought maybe I should start that dialogue.
“Zombie Brands”, “Dinosaurs Brands”, “Ghost Brands” or “Graveyard Brands”, these are names that people use to call brands that have either customers have completely abandoned or simply hanging in there (often on the bottom shelf or only showing up occasionally in 99cents stores or Costco in totally unrelated product category). Some of them gone through some revitalization efforts that were unsuccessfully and some ended up existing only in some emerging markets. Others have simply lost their relevance in their core market place (Xerox, Oldsmobile) and the brands are used casually on products that are totally outside their product categories (Teac, RCA, Polaroid etc.).
If you happen to own one a “Zombie Brand”, what can you do? You have the following options: 1/ Invest and attempt to revitalize it, 2/ Milk it, 3/ Position it for the emerging market 4) Sell it for whatever it’s worth, or 5/ Dump it. People who have special relationships often have sentimental reasons to give them a second chance. The cost and risk of bringing a brand back to live is enormous and what is needed to make sure the decision is based on sound logic. If you run a large portfolio, the question will be, “Which brands are worth the revitalization effort?” and “Why?”
Many b-school case studies have been written about of how brands were “brought back from the graveyard.” Unfortunately, however, the lessons are often so idiosyncratic. There 100X more cases where companies tried revitalizing old brands, hiring new advertising agencies and throwing endless amounts of money in advertising hoping to rebuild a great brand even when if there wasn't a relevant product or service or a sound business strategy behind the it. First question is ask is how bad your situation is and here are the three most common ones:
My Brand Is Sick. Market changes direction and the brand become irrelevant. Everyone used to understand what the brand means and they all stick to it -- advertising to product design to promotions -- and they believe it all connects to something larger and more enduring. Until one day they woke up and realize there was a big disconnect. Your brand is stuck in the past. In another word, your brand is IRREVELANT.
My Brand Is Dying. The brand is becoming boring. It doesn't create excitement for the customers or even employees anymore. Younger customers think of us as their Parents’ brand. This is quite common for brands that have made their successes and achieved market leadership. This is in fact the result of being too successful. Remember every business success laid the seeds for business failures. Don’t remember who said this. In another word, your brand lacks customer ENGAGEMENT.
My Brand Has No Vital Signs. Or it’s just a walking dead. You ignore your brand for way too long, or simply let it ride for too long, and at some point, it just expires. Every drop of goodwill has been squeezed out. It loses all of its mystic, energy, its power to capture your customers' or even your own imagination. In another word, you brand has been reduced to just a LOGO.
The interesting question is can social media save the "Zombie Brands"? The Social Media Generation has phenomenal impact over determining the fate of brands. These digital communities are vocal, active and mobile. They would share their joy, anger and frustration of their daily experiences with friends and anybody. These web 2.0 tools that allow continuous and immediate connectedness at all hours and regardless of location and geography. Brand Communities are formed as a result of the connectivity. What is a brand community? A brand community is a brand-centered, non‐geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand. These brand communities include four core markers of community:
- Shared hobbies and interests
- Shared consciousness
- Shared rituals and traditions
- Shared purposes and destinies
The commercial and mass‐mediated ethos in which these communities are situated affects their character and structure and gives rise to their particularities. This is the most disruptive trend from a brand and marketing perspective. I wrote about the service episodes regarding my Lenovo experience earlier this week, I received responses both from Lenovo and from national publications like the NY Times who is interested in my story. Just as Mark Hopkins (Social Media Specialist from Lenovo) wrote in his email to me “I think write ups like yours are actually very constructive to the long term decision making of global companies. Creating tangible evidence of marketplace damage, in a visible fashion helps to sharpen focus on the customer at all levels. Thanks to the web, visibility to customer experiences is no longer geographically limited.”
A customer community has now become the collective “sources of truth” for brands. It is also a possible cure for "Zombie Brands".
(Photo: Toronto Annual Zombie Walk- a group of some 200 Torontonians setting the Guinness World Record for the Largest Performance of "Thriller" - in full zombie ensemble.)