Tag : relevance

110: Rebranding Strategies from Super Bowl Commercials

Two of my favorite commercial’s from the 2014 Super Bowl had something in common.

One commercial used self-deprecating humor with 1980’s icons.
The other hired a movie director to shoot an abbreviated action movie scene.

Radio Shack made an established one-liner come to life. “The 80’s called. They wanted their [insert item] back.”

Jaguar leveraged a subtle movie trope and used a white car in a dark ad.

What one point were both the Radio Shack and Jaguar commercials—two very different brands with very different ads—trying to make?

“We’re not who you think we are.”

Both had the same goal: change their respective brand’s engrained perceptions. Radio Shack had been wearing a pocket protector long before Best Buy took its lunch money, broke its soldering gun, and stuffed it in a locker. Jaguar had been showing people it’s yearbooks from the 1960’s, while yelling at Audi to get off its lawn.

Both now wanted you to know that they aren’t old, that they aren’t has beens. Both brands needed to tell you that they aren’t just evolving; they are going in a new direction.

Together, these two strategies encompass the most common ways that brands reinvent themselves. Radios Shack courageously showed you their past in order to contrast and give context to their future. In contrast, Jaguar grabbed a dramatic car from its garage and hoped its raspy exhaust note and some movie villains would wipe your memory of Jaguar’s recent AARP street cred.

Entrepreneurs ask me about how to “phase in our new look,” usually after a logo change, merger, or other important mile marker event. My answer to that question is twofold:

  1. Make the transition period no longer than six months—hopefully shorter.”
  2. Develop as many of the new media templates as you can before launching the new look, so that as many matching media pieces as possible can launch simultaneously. (This requires patience and self-control. If you’re like me, the secret proves a tough one to keep.)

For an auction company, it might be easier to transition a brand than it is for most other businesses, because—in addition to company promotion—auction marketers generate a lot of media to promote their sale merchandise. So, it’s relatively easy to distribute a large quantity of quick impressions for a new company image in a compressed period of time. Also, every once in a while, an auction company will get a premium asset to sell that will make a high-visibility campaign on which to start a new brand look—for that clean break.

Consumers who buy at auction are primarily shopping for specific items. Their search for that item draws them to photos and online mentions of that asset category, specific items, or distinctive attributes. As long as those assets remain the primary emphasis in auction campaign advertising, the brand image should be happening in the periphery, anyway. So, a style makeover—while seemingly abrupt to the advertiser—will not be jarring for the consumer.

Whether you’re showing a new era for an established company or just wowing people with new capabilities to replace old perceptions, don’t linger in the limbo between brands. Go boldly toward your new image.

When my pastor and his wife told their country church that they were changing the brand, 75% of people (including family members) left the congregation. Becoming a church that made unchurched folks feel welcomed meant making some church attenders feel uncomfortable. Candidly, every once in a while, I still get uncomfortable when my spiritual mentors challenge me to extend grace like God does—even when there are lots of positive peer pressure at what is now a megachurch.

Changing the dress code or the music style or the Bible translation from those of a traditional church can make you a contemporary church. Moving away from programs and dogmas and denominational jingoism can make you a culturally-relevant church. But I’m thankful that my spiritual mentors didn’t stop there—where form can still trump function.

Successful church happens when Christians don’t hold ownership of their local assembly—when it’s bigger than a brand, when we’re evangelists instead of multi-level marketers. When outsiders feel at home while still challenged by Scripture, growth can’t help but happen. Where there’s growth, there’s life. Often, life requires the death of an old thing for a new thing to sprout. Old things like the way church used to be.

11: Paying for Perception That Pays

Red CarWhy does the iPod account for over 70% of American MP3 player sales—despite arguably the most expensive line of players on the market? † Why do Americans shell thousands of dollars more on Audi cars than they do on the Volkswagens that share the same chassis? How do the eight Sunglass Hut stores on Manhattan stay in business in a town notorious for knock offs on the street?

Part of it is the status symbol—brand perception. Americans attempt to buy acceptance and respect through excessiveness—a chase to have the right logo on your jeans or car or golf clubs. Part of it is brand recognition, as we are more comfortable using the most trusted brand. Part of it is product/service design that suits us better than our favorite’s competitor does.

In October, the British entity Design Council, published findings that showed:

  • “Two thirds of companies who ignore design have to compete mainly on price. In companies where design is integral, just one third do so.”
  • “Design is integral to 39% of rapidly growing companies but to only 7% of static ones.”
  • “80 percent of design-led businesses have opened up new markets in the last three years. Only 42% of UK businesses overall have done so.”
  • “A business that increases its investment in design is more than twice as likely to see its turnover [British for “profit”] grow as a business that does not do so.” ††

Peer Insight, an American research group, found that “companies focused on customer-experience design outperformed the S&P 500 by a 10-to-1 margin from 2000 to 2005.” ††† So, this isn’t just a United Kingdom phenomenon.

From marketing to retail design, from product to service packaging—companies that design around the buyer stand a better chance to gain market share, make profits, and brand themselves as high-value companies. Paying attention to reading order, cultural relevance, and the buyer perspective will make your advertising stand out from your competitor’s—which in turn will make your brand stand apart from your competitor’s.

Buyer-centric design will cost you more up front than will company centricity or haphazardness. It can seem too difficult in the early stages of a company or unnecessary during the routine of a mature firm. But you can guide public perception with intentionality and perseverance. If you’re willing to spend the time and budget to brand yourself as your market’s specialist and/or leader, you will find a buying public that believes the same. When that happens, your clients will be willing to pay you more for your services and/or products.


[footer]† Cruz, Phillip. “U.S. Top Selling Computer Hardware for February 2007.” www.bloomberg.com
†† “Value of Design Factfinder.” www.designcouncil.org.uk
††† Tischler, Linda. “All About Yves.” Fast Company. October, 2007: page 94.[/footer]

I’ve heard all kinds of statistics on the stagnant average American church. I’ve heard solutions from changing music motifs to holding services in drive-in theaters, updating traditions to dropping ecclesiastical emphases. Church conferences sell out stadiums, as leaders and laity try to figure out how to make their church, their faith, and their God more attractive to the secular culture.

While creativity and flexibility are to be commended, they usually don’t change the systemic concept of ministry. Most churches exist to take care of our intrinsic guilt and doubt—maybe to engage the spiritual side of your existence. So, they compete on both intangible and physical amenities, like location or friendliness, music style or Bible version, emotional environment or childcare.

The true church, as expressed in the New Testament book of Acts, was built around Christ’s premise that he came “to bring life and that more abundant.” If a congregation of believers spends their lives with the intentionality as the first century church—living the full life that Jesus offers—growth happens spontaneously, organically. My church has found this to be true over and over again, with roughly 90 faith conversions (and ensuing life changes—many dramatic) already this year.

Get these articles delivered to you.

Don't set a reminder to check the site for new content. Have new content sent to you when it posts.
* = required field