Growing older but not ageing

Louis Vuitton is 150 years old! It is also the most fashionable luxury brand in Asia. One way of understanding revitalisation is to consider brands that have not ‘aged’. How have they done it? Typically, the brands that have defied the passage of time have adopted a dual logic, as illustrated by Nivea and Lacoste. To follow their example and stay young, a brand must implement three types of initiatives towards the product. These can also be used as a model for relaunching a brand.

Facelifting, reinventing and innovating

The management of a brand involves maintaining the present (what the brand is now) while at the same time working for the future. It is the present that constitutes the source of income and therefore allows the development of the growth products of the future. As shown in Figure below, in order to stay young, a brand must implement three types of initiatives at the same time:

Sustaining brand equity long term: dual management in practice

  • It must continually modernise the ‘prototype’ in the same way that Nivea introduced Nivea Soft to modernise its basic in the famous metallic blue jar. Nivea Soft is lighter and less greasy, and is marketed in a white jar. Lacoste regularly improves its famous 12 × 12 polo shirt in terms of the quality of the wool, the colours, the sleeves and so on.
  • It must also reinvent the ‘prototype’, just as Lacoste produced a tight-fitting shirt with Lycra since this is how the woman of 2005 liked to dress. It was an immediate hit. For example, imagine a brand of haircare products whose basic product is a lotion. It would certainly have to modernise it in terms of the packaging, and update the formulation. But it should above all consider how today’s customers would want to apply the product. It is quite possible that rubbing a lotion into the scalp is something that is no longer done, even though the product itself is extremely relevant. In this case, another method of application would certainly be the best form of innovation. You only have to think of Nivea, which invented the first spray-on sun lotion.
  • Finally, it must innovate by actively seeking out the trends and behaviour that currently dominate the younger consumer segments, since these are the segments that will generate customer loyalty in the future. To return to the example of the haircare brand, it simply cannot afford not to create new products – which are of course in line with its brand contract. Young people are mad about hair gels, styling products and hair colour. These markets certainly exist already, but the brand can create new segments within these markets that work in its favour.

Actively seeking out new types of behavior means opening up to the idea of exploring new distribution channels, since new behaviour is often linked to new places and situations.

These innovations also provide an opportunity to launch new and truly groundbreaking publicity campaigns, both in terms of their basic structure and especially their style. In this way, the brand sends out clear signals that it is reinventing itself. At the same time, these campaigns aim to launch the business of these innovations, just as they would for any new product.

Detecting the symptoms of ageing brands

Brands are built by the sum of all their behaviours creating value at contact points with customers. This is why brands should regularly monitor their behaviour. There are many sure symptoms of a brand dropping off, and they can be grouped into seven main types.

Insufficient preparation for the future

  • Insufficient rate of new products in the yearly sales.
  • Low rate of patent registration.
  • Low rate of trademark registration (a sign of little need to name new products and services).
  • Insufficient investment in R&D, in market sensing, in trend spotting.
  • Insufficient knowledge about new uses and new emerging situations of use.
  • Date of the last executive committee meeting to address these issues.

Insufficient dual management

  • Insufficient knowledge about nonconsumers, modern consumers, tomorrow’s consumers.
  • More and more sales to a reduced number of clients.
  • Following the demands of existing clients, not foreseeing the changes in the market.
  • Slow but regular increase of the average age of clients.

Insufficient capacity to capture growth pockets as they emerge

  • Thinking the brand only through its historical product, without being ready to capture emerging new materials and demands.
  • Excessive vision of what is called brand coherence, thus limiting the types of extensions to be made by the brand.

Insufficient relevance

  • Weakening of the present positioning and values.
  • Weakening of the way values are materialised.
  • Date of the last customer satisfaction questionnaire.
  • Date of the last interview with lost customers.
  • Increase in proportion of customers declaring they are ‘moderately satisfied’.
  • Date of the last blind test.
  • Lowering rate of repeat purchase.
  • Decrease in spontaneous awareness (saliency).
  • Decrease in number of spontaneous press quotes.

Insufficient vitality at contact

  • Lack of regular updating of the quality of the logo and visual symbol of the brand.
  • Date of last change or facelift for the packaging (design, ergonomics).
  • Lack of regular facelifts for stores or concessions.
  • Lack of organised merchandising, lack of plans to regularly rethink it.
  • Lack of service (call centres, websites and so on).
  • Lack of brand proximity marketing.
  • Lack of advertising.

Insufficient self-stimulation

  • Lack of curiosity.
  • Lack of desire to surprise.
  • Lack of PR events.
  • Lack of contacts with new opinion leaders, with the press.

Insufficient staffing

  • Lack of young managers.
  • Sex imbalance among executives (100 per cent male or 100 per cent female).

Back to the future

Often a brand’s decline is tied to forgetting the brand’s mission. Little by little small adjustments have been added to the strategy, and cumulatively they have led the brand astray. This is how heavy discounters become less heavy discounters, luxury brands become less luxurious, feminine brands become less feminine and so on.

‘Back to the core’ is a classic revitalising strategy. It does not mean being obsessed with the past, but if the early vision and mission are still valid, trying to come back to it while acknowledging that the product itself may need to be updated.

Many groups act preventively by regularly checking the relevance of their identity and the fact that the operations are actually in line with this strategy. For instance, at Decathlon, as soon as operating margins get higher, the alarm bell rings.

Decathlon’s deep culture focuses on making people happy through sport and physical activities. This is achieved through a remarkable policy of providing own brands with the best performance/price ratio on the market. Higher margins seem to indicate that this ratio is becoming less exceptional than it should be.

Strategic Brand Management Related Practice Tests

Strategic Management Practice Tests
Brand Equity In Question What Is A Brand? Differentiating Between Brandassets, Strength And Value Tracking Brand Equity Goodwill: The Convergence Of Finance And Marketing How Brands Create Value For The Customer How Brands Create Value For The Company Corporate Reputation And The Corporate Brand Strategic Implications Of Branding What Does Branding Really Mean? Permanently Nurturing The Difference Brands Act As A Genetic Programme Respect The Brand ‘contract’ The Product And The Brand Each Brand Needs A Flagship Product Advertising Products Through The Brand Prism Brands And Other Signs Of Quality Obstacles To The Implications Of Branding Brand And Business Building Are Brands For All Companies? Building A Market Leader Without Advertising Brand Building: From Product To Values, And Vice Versa Are Leading Brands The Best Products Or The Best Value? Understanding The Value Curve Of The Target Breaking The Rule And Acting Fast Comparing Brand And Business Models: Cola Drinks From Private Labels To Store Brands Evolution Of The Distributor’s Brand Are They Brands Like The Others? Why Have Distributor's Brands? The Financial Equation Of The Distributor’s Brand The Three Stages Of The Distributor’s Brand The Case Of Decathlon Factors In The Success Of Distributor's Brands Optimising The Dob Marketing Mix The Real Brand Issue For Distributors Competing Against Distributor's Brands Facing The Low-cost Revolution Should Manufacturers Produce Goods For Dob's? Brand Diversity: The Types Of Brands Luxury, Brand And Griffe Service Brands Brand And Nature: Fresh Produce Pharmaceutical Brands The Business-to-business Brand The Internet Brand Country Brands Thinking Of Towns As Brands Universities And Business Schools Are Brands Thinking Of Celebrities As Brands The New Rules Of Brand Management The Limits Of A Certain Type Of Marketing About Brand Equity The New Brand Realities We Have Entered The B To B To C Phase Brand Or Business Model Power? Building The Brand In Reverse? The Power Of Passions Beginning With The Strong 360° Experience Beginning With The Shop The Company Must Be More Human, More Open Experimenting For More Efficiency The Enlarged Scope Of Brand Management Licensing: A Strategic Lever How Co-branding Grows The Business Brand Identity And Positioning Brand Identity: A Necessary Concept Identity And Positioning Why Brands Need Identity And Positioning The Six Facets Of Brand Identity Sources Of Identity: Brand Dna Brand Essence Launching The Brand Launching A Brand And Launching A Product Are Not The Same Defining The Brand’s Platform The Process Of Brand Positioning Determining The Flagship Product Brand Campaign Or Product Campaign? Brand Language And Territory Of Communication Choosing A Name For A Strong Brand Making Creative 360° Communications Work For The Brand Building Brand Foundations Through Opinion Leaders And Communities The Challenge Of Growth In Mature Markets Growth Through Existing Customers Line Extensions: Necessity And Limits Growth Through Innovation Disrupting Markets Through Value Innovation Managing Fragmented Markets Growth Through Cross-selling Between Brands Growth Through Internationalisation Sustaining A Brand Long Term Is There A Brand Life Cycle? Nurturing A Perceived Difference Investing In Communication No One Is Free From Price Comparisons Branding Is An Art At Retail Creating Entry Barriers Defending Against Brand Counterfeiting Brand Equity Versus Customer Equity: One Needs The Other Sustaining Proximity With Influencers Should All Brands Follow Their Customers? Reinventing The Brand: Salomon Adapting To The Market: Identity And Change Bigger Or Better Brands? From Reassurance To Stimulation Consistency Is Not Mere Repetition Brand And Products: Integration And Differentiation Specialist Brands And Generalist Brands Building The Brand Through Coherence Defining The Core Identity Of The Brand Confirming The Presence Of Brand Core Facets In Each Product Identifying The Role Of Each Product Line In The Construction Of The Brand Graphically Representing The Overall System Of The Brand Checking The Coherence Worldwide The Three Layers Of A Brand: Kernel, Codes And Promises Respecting The Brand Dna Managing Two Levels Of Branding Growth Through Brand Extensions What Is New About Brand Extensions? Brand Or Line Extensions? The Limits Of The Classical Conception Of A Brand Why Are Brand Extensions Necessary? Building The Brand Through Systematic Extensions: Nivea Extending The Brand To Internationalize It Identifying Potential Extensions The Economics Of Brand Extension What Research Tells Us About Brand Extensions Avoiding The Risk Of Dilution Balancing Identity And Adaptation To The Extension Market Segments Assessing What Should Not Change: The Brand Kernel Preparing The Brand For Remote Extensions Keys To Successful Brand Extensions Is The Market Really Attractive? An Extension-based Business Model: Virgin How Execution Kills A Good Idea: Easycar Brand Architecture The Key Questions Of Brand Architecture Type And Role Of Brands The Main Types Of Brand Architecture The Flexible Umbrella Brand The Aligning Umbrella Brand (masterbrand) Choosing The Appropriate Branding Strategy New Trends In Branding Strategies Internationalising The Architecture Of The Brand Some Classic Dysfunctions What Name For New Products? Group And Corporate Brands Corporate Brands And Product Brands Multi-brand Portfolios Inherited Complex Portfolios From Single To Multiple Brands: Michelin The Benefits Of Multiple Entries Linking The Portfolio To Segmentation Global Portfolio Strategy The Case Of Industrial Brand Portfolios Linking The Brand Portfolio To The Corporate Strategy Key Rules To Manage A Multibrand Portfolio The Growing Role Of Design In Portfolio Management Does The Corporate Organization Match The Brand Portfolio? Auditing The Portfolio Strategically A Local And Global Portfolio – Nestlé Handling Name Changes And Brand Transfers Brand Transfers Are More Than A Name Change Reasons For Brand Transfers The Challenge Of Brand Transfers When One Should Not Switch Analysing Best Practices Transferring A Service Brand How Soon After An Acquisition Should Transfer Take Place? Managing Resistance To Change Factors Of Successful Brand Transfers Brand Turnaround And Rejuvenation The Decay Of Brand Equity The Factors Of Decline Distribution Factors When The Brand Becomes Generic Preventing The Brand From Ageing Rejuvenating A Brand Growing older but not ageing Managing Global Brands The Latest On Globalisation Patterns Of Brand Globalisation Why Globalise? The Benefits Of A Global Image Conditions Favouring Global Brands The Excess Of Globalisation Barriers To Globalisation Coping With Local Diversity Building The Brand In Emerging Countries Naming Problems Achieving The Delicate Local–global Balance Being Perceived As Local: The New Ideal Of Global Brands? Local Brands Can Strike Back The Process Of Brand Globalisation Globalising Communications: Processes And Problems Making Local Brands Converge Financial Valuation And Accounting For Brands Accounting For Brands: The Debate What Is Financial Brand Equity? Evaluating Brand Valuation Methods Brand Valuation In Practice The Evaluation Of Complex Cases What About The Brand Values Published Annually In The Press? Strategic Brand Management Interview Questions