Saturday, December 15, 2012

Game of Rebranding

One of the significant marketing changes in the past decade involves the dramatic increase in various ways in which consumers can express their identities. A key driver of this change has been the growth of one-to-one marketing and mass customization, which has not only expanded accessibility to traditional means of self-expression(e.g., hobbies, cheering for favourite sport teams and music groups, wearing iconic brands) but also introduced a variety of innovative self-expressive formats. This trend has led many organizations to rebrand and reposition their products or services focusing on functional attributes to focusing on how they fit into a consumer’s lifestyle. This rebranding exercise is welcomed by managers who believe that by positioning their brands as means for self-expression, they are less likely to go head-to-head with their direct competitors. Rebranding refers to repositioning or revitalizing a brand. It is also changing or reaffirming the existing marketing niche. It is different than the initial launch because the marketers usually don’t want to lose their existing brand equity with their current customers and clients. It is one of those terms that cropped up in the last two decades or so. There are many different interpretations of re-branding, and ideas on when it's needed and exactly how it should be undertaken. There are two divergent opinions about re-branding. The first is that re-branding is essential for business success; one needs to re-brand in order to evolve its brand so that it keeps up with the time and meets consumers' ever-changing needs. The other, that re-branding should be avoided at all costs; after all, if brands like Kellogg's, Kodak, Coca Cola and Gillette can still be market leaders in their categories as they were in 1925, then is re-branding really necessary? Rebranding can have a dual purpose; one, to assign a new name to a product or service and two, it can mean to reposition an existing brand. It can be applied to either new products, mature products, or even unfinished products. The process can occur intentionally through a deliberate change in strategy or occur unintentionally from unplanned, emergent situations. Rebranding is thus a process of giving a product or an organization a new image. Too often companies perceive Rebranding as just another cosmetic exercise. Adding a new color here, tweak of the logo there and putting up some nice TV commercials, but rebranding can only be successful when it is more than this. It signifies the second birth of a brand, so along with the outer look there also goes certain changes in the inner aspects of the brand, like changes in offering methods, changes in the product, changes in policy, etc. Rebranding is often necessary after M&A or if the brand has outgrown its identity / marketplace. When organizations have failed to establish a brand, or have been through any kind of scandal, total Rebranding may also be in order. In these cases, the intent is to erase any previous brand identity and replace it with completely new imagery and messaging. In the recent years, we have seen a growing trend of rebranding in our country starting with Vodafone, Airtel, to media channels, and many others. But the pertinent question that blogger seeks to find out from her readers, if any, is – “what is the end result of such massive and expensive exercise on the consumer? Was the change cosmetic only? Was the image of the brand affected in the consumer’s mind? What makes this affect positive or negative? What changes does it bring in the consumer buying pattern? How does the rebranding affect the bottom line (if any)?"

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