Why Reposition a Brand?
Repositioning a brand is a challenging task and one that should not be undertaken lightly. For a product to be successively repositioned, the brand perceptions – held by the consumers – need to be changed.
It is not simply a matter of changing the marketing mix or the marketing communications, but the positioning change needs to be executed in the perceptions (understanding) of the target market.
The more established a brand is already, the harder it is to be successful with a repositioning strategy.
So why would a brand want to reposition? There are several reasons including:
- the brand has reached its potential and has limited growth potential
- the brand has a poor market positioning
- to better meet changing customer needs
- the brand image has been damaged
- the brand has been impacted by new competition
- aggression competition has weakened the brand’s strengths
- the firm wants to enter new markets or segments
- in order to command a higher (premium) price and margin
- the brand’s products are in the decline stage of the product life cycle
Successful Repositioning Examples
Let’s now look at some good repositioning examples, which include:
- Old Spice
- Plus a video summary of good and bad examples of repositioning at the end of this post
Old Spice Goes from Old to New
Old Spice is a men’s cologne or aftershave, and you can tell by the name “Old,” it was a fairly traditional type product and it attracted an older target market – and was usually bought by the female (as the main grocery buyer)in the house for her male partner.
Their marketing approach was heavily promotional-based repositioning, and as part of their repositioning strategy, Old Spice undertook a series of fun, modern videos that went viral. This enabled them to refresh the brand with a youthful, athletic, humorous type image.
This campaign kicked off in 2010 and was build around “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” – as they were targeting the female buyer, not the male consumer/user. This means that their target audience differed from their target market.
The videos featured a sexy, charming and confident actor who was selected to embody the modern and attractive brand personality that Old Spice was attempting to create as part of their repositioning program.
Their repositioning campaign was quite successful, as they managed to change its image from an old-fashioned brand to a modern, youthful, and dynamic one.
But of course, we know that marketing is all about financial results – which were achieved – as the brand grew its sales, market share, and profits.
Key Repositioning Tip: IMC-based repositioning efforts can be quite effective – you don’t always need to change your entire marketing mix
Check out the following Old Spice case study video – it provides a great overview and includes key marketing metrics:
Apple Was Not Always the Apple That You Know Today
We all know Apple – one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. But if we go back in time, they were just another computer company.
Around the early 2000s, when Steve Jobs came back to Apple, they were struggling. They were not doing particularly well, they had a limited market share, and they were relying on computers only.
But they were able to reposition by bringing out new products and their Apple stores. Initially they kicked off with the iPod (along with iTunes), then the iPhone in 2007, a couple of years later the iPad, and obviously their Apple Stores came out in that era as well.
So through a combination of product and place marketing mix elements, they dramatically changed repositioned from a niche computer company to the Apple of today.
Key Repositioning Tip: Repositioning can be done at company level and has the potential to substantially improve business performance – far more than many other business tactics
This video provides a great (and quick) summary of Apple’s transformation and repositioning journey…
Netflix from Mail-Order to Mainstream
And we know Netflix too – another major company and one of the leading streaming platforms and now a movie production company as well.
But they started out as a mail-order company, where you would hire DVDs (the old way of watching movies), and they would mail them to you. You would play them and mail them back.
This sounds like a lot of word, but their competitive advantage (at the time) was you didn’t have to go to a store. In the old days, you had to turn up to a physical store, pick up a tape or a disc, and take it home and plug it in and watch the movie, and then take it back the next day. That was a lot of work!
Netflix initially had the convenience of mail, but then they repositioned as online streaming platform, by changing their product mix and their process mix.
Key Repositioning Tip: Repositioning is often a MUST-DO as technology and customer needs and lifestyles change
The following NBC News video discusses the history of Netflix and the finalization of DVDs in 2023…
Domino’s Not Longer Tastes Like Cardboard
If we go back to around 2010-ish, Domino’s Pizza were getting a lot of bad press because their pizzas were considered low quality. One of the famous sayings was “their pizza tastes like cardboard” and that people were better off eating the box, perhaps?
So Domino’s had to reposition by changing their product. They reinvented their pizzas completely, they walked away from the pizza design that they used to offer, even though they still had a strong brand and a solid market share.
And they did a series of videos where they just said, “Hey, yeah, this is what people are saying: that our pizza is bad, it’s low quality, nobody wants to eat it.” They showed shots from focus groups, so they were very open and authentic, and then they showed the redesign process and then the relaunch.
This was a key part of their repositioning success – that they openly accepted the consumer criticism and faced it head on.
Key Repositioning Tip: Repositioning will often be more effective if the brand is honest and authentic and gives reasons for why they are changing
Here is the Domino’s repositioning case study video…
Dove’s Real Beauty is Beautiful Repositioning
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign began in 2004 and aimed to redefine the concept of beauty, as well as repositioning their brand.
A key goal of the brand’s repositioning was to differentiate itself from other brands by promoting a more inclusive and positive message that would resonate with more consumers.
In the old days, they used very attractive models only, but now they show real, everyday people – so they’re emphasizing the importance of being authentic, being real, and that everybody’s beautiful.
Outside of straight IMC tactics, Dove set up the Dove Self-Esteem Project – an initiative designed to educate inspire young people to build a positive relationship with their bodies and improve their self-esteem.
From a marketing perceptive, the Real Beauty campaign has delivered Dove a strong increase in sales, and has repositioned the brand as a socially responsible and inclusive one – leading to a stronger and more emotional connection with its customer base.
Key Repositioning Tip: Repositioning often means that the brand needs to rethink its traditional view of what its customers want – and to think differently than in the past
Check out marketing expert Mark Ritson’s analysis of the Dove’s award-winning repositioning efforts…
McDonald’s: Now Much More than Burgers and Fries
If we go back in time, McDonald’s was just burgers and fries (pretty much anyway). Now, we know them for a whole range of menu items, including coffee, snacks – and even salads!
They made a progressive, but dramatic change, to their product range over time. Plus they have improved their stores, the comforts, and the seating inside and some of them even have special coffee areas.
In marketing, this is a mix pf place and physical evidence – sometimes called servicescape – which provides a much better in-store atmosphere as compared to their traditional fast-food look and feel.
Their ongoing and gradual repositioning strategy has been driven by aligning to changing consumer needs and to maintain McDonald’s position as the market leader in the fast-food market.
Key Repositioning Tip: Repositioning does not need to be a one-off – it can be continuous and gradual – constantly evolving to fit the changing marketing environment
Here is a fantastic video on the full history of McDonalds – but be warded, this documentary runs 90 minutes…
Vinegar Repositions into a New Product Category
Vinegar is a product category rather than a company or a brand – but it’s great example of successful repositioning.
As you know vinegar is a liquid you put on your food as a flavoring. But in today’s world it’s been redesigned as a cleaning product.
As a result, sales of vinegar have increased enormously because, in the old days you used to sprinkle a little bit on, and now you’re using big bottles of it to clean around the house.
One of the reasons vinegar works so well as a cleaner is due to its acidity – which gives it a tangy taste, but can also break down dirt and grease.
And as consumers became more environmentally conscious, vinegar started to gain popularity as a safe and affordable cleaning product. And this product category switch was supported by the launch of “cleaning vinegar,” a product with a higher acid level.
Key Repositioning Tip: Tapping into an emerging consumer trend is a great repositioning option for a product in its decline stage of the product life cycle
Video Covering Both Good and Poor Repositioning Examples
Summary of Key Successful Repositioning Tips
- IMC-based repositioning efforts can be quite effective – you don’t always need to change your entire marketing mix
- Repositioning can be done at company level and has the potential to substantially improve business performance – far more than many other business tactics
- Repositioning is often a MUST-DO as technology and customer needs and lifestyles change
- Repositioning will often be more effective if the brand is honest and authentic and gives reasons for why they are changing
- Repositioning often means that the brand needs to rethink its traditional view of what its customers want – and to think differently than in the past
- Repositioning does not need to be a one-off – it can be continuous and gradual – constantly evolving to fit the changing marketing environment
- Tapping into an emerging consumer trend is a great repositioning option for a product in its decline stage of the product life cycle
- Unsuccessful Repositioning Examples
- Five Ways to Reposition a Brand
- Repositioning on a Perceptual Map
- Free Download of the Perceptual Map Template
- New Coke: Designed to Win Back Positioning
- Positioning Strategy