Big brands come and go but few stand the test of time; even the longest lasting often succumb to setbacks. There are those, though, that seem to combust and fade into the economic ether only to re-emerge bigger and better than before. In today’s Simply CSOFT, we’ll look at a few big brands bouncing back against all odds.
The Mini automobile was first released in 1959 and created a craze for small cars in Britain, but by 1994, the public’s passion for the diminutive vehicle had died down and sales were sagging. That’s when BMW bought the brand and retooled it, giving it a slightly more modern feel and sleeker look while maintaining its signature charm. In 2013, the brand hit an all-time high in sales and it’s now one of the most loved and imitated cars on the road.
The Lesson: Sometimes all that’s needed to turn a brand around is a change in management.
It may be hard to imagine that Netflix could do any wrong, but it wasn’t too long ago that a plan to split the company’s business in two nearly cost them their loyal subscribers. In 2011, Netflix tried to create an entirely different company to handle their DVDs-by-mail service. The move would have required 12 million of its customers to set up an additional account with an additional credit card bill and an additional set of preferences; they were understandably nonplussed at the prospect. Despite dropping the idea before ever launching the service, Netflix still managed to alienate a large portion of their fan base. So, they kept the DVDs-by-mail service going, but instead focused most of their resources on their streaming services, upgrading their library and crafting original content that’s attracting subscribers by the couch-load today.
The Lesson: Listen to your customers – what they think of your brand eventually determines its direction.
The story of the Converse brand is a true rollercoaster: they started selling their signature shoe, the All-Star, in 1910 but it wasn’t until Chuck Taylor started marketing them as basketball sneakers that they really took off. Since then they’ve seen ups and downs nearly every decade. They waned in popularity in the 60’s and 70’s and were eventually replaced in the basketball market, but in the 80’s Converse hit back with a variety of colors that complemented the fashions of the time. The late 90’s saw another slowdown in sales but the company has come back once again with high-end endorsements from celebrities from all walks of life, from fashion to sports.
The Lesson: Hang in there – sometimes the success of a brand depends simply on its survival…and patience.
It’s often hard for us to imagine but brands are not immortal; they are at the mercy of the market. Though we may think otherwise, none are too big to fail, and they’re certainly never too big to falter. If and when they do, they can look to the pasts of some of the world’s largest companies. The big brothers of branding – those who have been around the longest – have a lot to teach, not only with their successes, but also with how they reacted when faced with failure.
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