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Brands are working harder than ever to decide what course to take to engage with their audiences' world and sell more. Many say brands need to evolve, but more signs are showing that a complete rebirth is a better bet.

For over a hundred years, brands and the institutions that develop them have been under recent pressure to build 'hive-ready' identities. A name that can stick easily to the buzzing minds of the media overdosed masses and become a platform to build a business upon.

Now, developing a new brand may be light years easier than taking an old brand to a new place - let alone teach it tricks. Google, a relatively new brand, announced that it's going to compete in the high speed broadband business in the coming months and years across the US.

Faster internet, exciting.

Conversely Comcast is piloting a name change to Xfinity, in order to shed negative perceptions of the internet service provider and remake itself as an innovator.

Though similar in nature, Comcast has decades of negative baggage to unload. High-speed internet has been delivered by a host of brands they aquired over the past decade. Rather than becoming a corporate monolith, Google has been growing to a brand adulthood while living up to it's "Don't be Evil" creed.

Comcast will find it hard to evolve and Google stays consistent. The old mind attitude of corporations who hide behind rhetoric and doublespeak and new mind brands who keep a simple transcendent focus on service and philosophic commitments are playing the same game on two different courts.

In online retail we see the same thing, but the dynamic cycle is different.

Tried and true brands such as Burberry have been working to keep their products and their product story in line. The art of the trench was very much a narrative they could own and build upon. Though a lot of their user submissions look like they came from a fashion model training camp and look a bit fabricated, nevertheless the idea is strong.

The Pepsi relaunch, now infamous, cost millions. To many of the older generation, it felt flat. But to the younger generations it was new and that was good.  Same taste, different aesthetic was enough as the product interaction is not a large hurdle for most young people. And since Pepsi doesn't sell directly to the public via the internet they've spent millions in social network programs to extend their reach to the 'hives' on brand enthusiasm. Paying the children rather than the piper to influence purchase seems to be the strategy of such coveted ad agency client.

Looking at brands like Zappos we see a more "Google-like" picture. A shoe selling brand of many brands with a single-minded focus on customer service for everyone who buys from them. They are so dedicated that they have sent flowers to a customer who needed make return arrangements due to a death in the family.

Like Zappos and Google brands need to keep the content flowing in the right direction to ensure their brand stays on course. Again all things aren't equal. Brand simplification seems to be the easiest way to be relevant to todays overly media-taxed consumer. And for Pepsi and Comcast their idea of evolution may depend on how much they endlessly chase media trends over taking a long hard look at what their simplified brand essence needs to be.

And let's not forget the consumer. Due to the explosion of content and shorter attention spans, their world is endemically integrated around brands, whether the brand is integrated or not. Brands that aren't ready for this new relationship may want to get some therapy. Fast.

Dorian Sweet

Published 12 February, 2010 by Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet is VP/Executive Creative Director of TrueAction and a contributor for Econsultancy.

4 more posts from this author

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Jason

...brands such as Burberry have been working to keep their products and their product story in line.

Personally, I wonder how much the use of very young models (Emma Watson, her brother etc.) actually risks putting a fracture between the product and their story. It is so far removed from reality that it feels forced.

over 6 years ago

Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet, Managing Director at TrueAction Europe

A good point. Burberry does a lot of different things, maybe too many. Celebrity association can be a tightrope walk and sometimes it feels not only off brand but off market. Unless most young women in this world are independently wealthy and a burgeoning film career ahead of them. ;)

over 6 years ago

Guy Stephens

Guy Stephens, Social Customer Care Consultant at IBM Interactive Experience/GBS/MobileEnterprise

I think what is also interesting is how brands are being pushed further and further away from their established ecosystems to actually engage with customers on either third party sites (ie. ComplaintCommunity, Plebble) or within a customer's own 'network' (Twitter, Facebook etc). 

over 6 years ago

Dorian Sweet

Dorian Sweet, Managing Director at TrueAction Europe

Great thoughts! We have a world in a high state of distraction and brands that are trying to add to the madness while at the same time keeping their distance from the consumer. When you take the abstraction down to tactics it's not about hiring people to check blogs and opinion sites, it's about understanding how clearly you are connected to your promise and how it resonates with the new consumer...or not.

over 6 years ago

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Akash Sharma

Thanks for sharing your ideas Dorian, Brand Re-birth it sounds fantastic but its quite difficult for a brand to change its identity completely for getting into the new world,I think the point is to change the brand personality by being more generous and transparent.The change can be brought this way and it would obviously take some time but would be less in comparison to the past.

over 6 years ago

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Jeremy

Hmm, so many smart people are living in our country and very good that your are one of  them. ))

Thanks for sharing.

over 6 years ago

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farouk

yes that make a lot of sense, thanks for sharing

over 6 years ago

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David Cohen

Interesting thoughts. I agree that at times introducing a new brand may in fact be less expensive than trying to change public perception of an old one, but I think the danger is in companies thinking that a name change and some new slogans and graphics are going to somehow change the outcome if the product/service is lousy. Brand building begins with alignment and today's consumers are much less tolerant of rotten experiences wrapped in pretty packages.

over 6 years ago

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florist

Brands are working harder than ever to decide what course to take to engage with their audiences, true 2010 is gone, companies used all different ways to engage with their customers.

What will they do in 2011?

over 5 years ago

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