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Brand Repositioning, restage, rebranding, and the quest to stay relevant

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Brand Repositioning, restage, rebranding, and the quest to stay relevant

What is brand repositioning?

A brand repositioning is a strategic marketing initiative that seeks to alter a company’s image, positioning, and message. This can involve changing how a company markets itself, adjusting its product line, or even revamping its entire corporate structure.

Repositioning a brand is often done to improve its standing in the market. For example, a business may wish to position itself as a leading player in a new market or attract a new audience of consumers. It might even want to shift away from its negative reputation.

Brand repositioning is a strategy that involves rethinking a company’s core values and positioning itself in a way that makes sense for its current situation. Companies don’t always stick to their original focus or vision. Instead, they focus on creating a new strategy that aligns with their emerging goals and objectives. Changes are typically made to the overall marketing strategy, including product, price, place, or promotion, but repositioning signals a shift in direction. It could be focusing beyond the core channel (e.g., premium brands in beverages moving beyond their initial on-premise focus to hit the retail shelves.)

Brand repositioning is a hot potato: many companies are constantly looking for ways to reinvent themselves and create new ways of growing. But they approach the challenge tactically, not strategically. So most companies reposition their brands after actually having moved their businesses.

In this sense, most cases of repositioning are reactive, not proactive. When a company realizes that its sales are decreasing, it will often reposition itself by implementing new ideas and developing new products. To keep its brand alive, it must remain on top of consumer wants, needs, and demands.

It would help to rebuild the positioning to reposition a brand, starting from a snapshot of your current approach. In a nutshell, you should:

1) select your preferred positioning model – we recommend brand key, brand pyramid, or brand wheel – and then

2) identify the components of your strategy which want/ need to change (e.g., new channels, new customers, new products, new benefits, new RTBs)

3) reflect those changes through the framework

4) assess the derivative impact (e.g., a new product technology in the RTBs, a unique benefit probably requires RTBs,  new formats for new channels)

5) update the affected components of your positioning based on the derivative impact.

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The difference between brand repositioning and rebranding

Brand repositioning is not the same thing as rebranding. One does not necessarily imply the other. In some cases, a rebranding can be based on a repositioning, and repositioning can be a by-product of a rebranding.

We talk about rebranding either when your brand gets a full-fledged new identity or redefined vital component of the visual identity. A packaging, the logo, the brand system. So what many nowadays refer to as a make-ver (see the Coca-cola examples) is rebranding, which does not entail a change of positioning.

Coca-Cola European Packaging

The new look for Coke ... more of the same | CTV News

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar is getting a makeover - CNN

The new packaging and look and feel are expected to better deliver against the exact brand positioning.

What is a brand restage?

A Brand Restage is an overhauling of the brand and its portfolio, usually based on a compelling repositioning and includes a vital rebranding component. The Diet Coke change of strategy in 2018 was a complete restage: 1) new positioning to increment relevance with recent trends and emerging consumer needs. In the Atlanta manufacturer’s own words, “we wanted to stay true to the essence of Diet Coke while recasting the brand for a new generation”; 2) new portfolio to tap into the changing taste of new consumers; 3) a new visual identity which would deliver on the new approach: “The same unapologetic confidence still comes through, and the same great Diet Coke taste people love is here to stay, but we are making the brand more relatable and more authentic”


When should You consider brand repositioning?

There could be either external or internal factors driving a need to reposition the brand:

External Drivers

  • Technology shift (e.g., from cathodic tubes to LCD screens)
  • New Entrants (e.g., NOLO brands disrupting both beer, wines, spirits, and soft drinks categories)
  • Emerging New Business Models (e.g., subscription vs. rent)

Internal Drivers

  • Aging customer base
  • Lack of relevance with emerging consumer segments in the category
  • Lack of portfolio relevance (beware, the positioning does not solve your innovation pipeline but can help in focusing the NPD priorities)


Repositioning leading to a Rebranding Example: Gucci in 2015

In 2014, Gucci struggled with its operating profit and HR issues. In December 2014, the company experienced three consecutive quarters of decreasing profits. In addition to the financial difficulties faced by the company, its president and CEO and its creative director had suddenly quit the company. On January 15, 2014, a new CEO took office and faced several decisions. He needed to decide if he wanted to reposition the brand or if he wanted to hire an external creative director.

Gucci was a hugely successful brand in the mid-2010s, but its audience had aged. The controversial, provocative and bold aesthetic that made the brand famous was not appealing to millennials because it did not speak to their cultural moment. They were looking for something more modern.

Marco Bizarre took charge as the new CEO in 2015 (alongside a new creative director). He introduced an ambitious brand repositioning strategy. Gucci would retain some of its Italian roots and extravagances and become more modern. But what would make it particularly attractive to younger generations?

Gucci took steps towards emphasizing a progressive mindset, such by:

  • A new emphasis on Instagram-style communication.
  • A polished-up logo was used on all products.
  • A welcoming and empowering approach to gender fluidity

These changes resulted in Gucci entering a highly profitable period over the next five years. Financially and socially, the above examples of rebranding strategy bore fruit. Influencers have been enthrall­ed by Gucci’s transformation from glossy and seducti­ve to quirky and activist (as well as bold).

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Cases compilated and reviewed by Clutch