New Year, New Brand?

road ahead 2019

What Will Your Brand Stand for in 2019?

If you are detecting a disconnect between your brand ethos and your target customers, New Year is the perfect time to get everything into alignment.

Today’s businesses operate in markets that are in a constant state of change and evolution. What customers wanted and expected last year is apt to be subtly different next, and businesses need to be constantly alert and mindful to these shifts, or risk finding that their message is no longer resonating with customers in the way that it used to.

New Year is a time of change, and of making new commitments. It provides the perfect opportunity for a company to come out and tell its customers what it stands for. Staying relevant might mean anything from a tweak to the logo design, right through to a whole new campaign aimed at a previously untapped demographic.

Making changes like this might sound frightening, but as the following examples show, even the most established brands can sometimes benefit from a small rethink.

Heinz salad cream in sandwiches

When Heinz announced that it was planning to stop making its famous salad cream, there was nationwide dismay and plenty of media attention. Heinz found that the product, which had been wildly popular back in the 1940s, was simply not attracting new fans.

Ultimately, the company decided that instead of withdrawing it completely, the product simply needed a rebrand. This came from the discovery that only 14 percent of buyers were using it as a salad dressing, and that most treated it as a spread to use in sandwiches. Thus, salad cream became sandwich cream – it is a perfect example of addressing a disconnect between a product and its users.

Consumer reports for a new generation

In the years since its launch in 1936, Consumer Reports (CR) has become one of the most trusted brands in America. In 2015, however, the organisation identified a potential problem, in that with every passing year, the average age of its subscribers was getting older. CR Vice President Leonora Wiener could see that the business needed to start engaging better with a new generation.

CR has always been most famous for its product reviews, a little like Which? in the UK. However, its nonprofit mission statement has always been the promotion of “fairness, safety, and health in the marketplace.” Clearly, there is something of a disconnect there, and the decision was made to tighten up and focus its mission. CR introduced an updated brand, with the new tagline Smarter Choices for a Better World. A subsequent survey showed that 87 percent of respondents liked what they had done.

New brand, more funding?

Rebranding is not always about meeting customer expectations. Take Harvard University as an example. Five years ago, it launched a hugely ambitious campaign to raise $450 million for public health projects. The school quickly understood that it needed to attract funding from beyond its traditional sources, and that this would require a rethink on the branding.

Harvard focused on the aspirations behind the project, with the tagline Powerful Ideas for a Healthier World. This humanised the campaign, and steered clear of academia. Was it successful? Well, suffice it to say that within a year of launching the campaign, the school received a $350 million donation, the largest in Harvard’s entire history.