Fifty years ago, the concept of brand repositioning was introduced by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Nowadays, it’s difficult to imagine creating a brand strategy without considering rebranding and repositioning as a prioritizing thought. Branding focuses on the customer experience that takes place, including its visual identity. Brand positioning describes the way consumers perceive a brand to be unique and different relative to competitive offerings.
When the goal is to reposition a brand, it entails re-conditioning a consumer’s mind as to what associations should be made in regard to your brand, which, on average, tends to be more difficult than positioning a brand from the start. It encompasses the perceptions a consumer naturally has when interacting with your brand across multiple touchpoints. What conceptual place do you want to own in your consumers’ minds? And when and how do you effectively develop a brand positioning strategy that will continue to allow your brand to be relevant as well as distinct, resulting in increased brand value overall?
Brand name causes confusion
The same way people continue to evolve, so do brands. When brands move past their original name and image, or want to highlight their evolved value proposition and competitive advantage, rebranding and repositioning become a consideration. One of these successful examples was Kentucky Fried Chicken who wanted to be able to sell more than simply fried chicken. By changing its name to KFC, it was successful in expanding its menu offerings to grilled chicken and more while avoiding confusion about its name vs. offerings.
Value proposition and competitive advantage are being redefined
Another successful example is the retailer Target. In the late 90s, Target was indistinguishable from Wal-Mart or K-Mart by being another low-brow discount retailer. In order to differentiate itself from its competitors and keep the company current, the retailer began to offer versions of designer apparel and merchandise through exclusive partnerships and deals with high-profile designers such as Issac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli, and more. Target is now a relevant brand in the top 10 list of US retailers, including the ecommerce world.
Brands such as Kodak, known for its photo film business, and Nokia, a global phone brand, are classic examples that continue to be referenced in MBA programs as brands who didn’t innovate with changing technology and reposition in time. Their vulnerability to competitive forces leads to the brands’ failures.
Rebranding and repositioning strategies can help keep a brand relevant and profitable by improving the perceived value and competitive advantage of brands and products. Once developed and implemented effectively, the result is a renewed customer perception, which allows brands to compete and thus, have a market advantage in the long term.