Branding Survival Guide: How to Revive a Dying Brand

Starting a business is a huge challenge in itself but trying to keep it running on a day-to-day basis can be even harder. In order for your business to thrive, it takes more than just your blood, sweat and tears. For branding survival, you’ll also need a marketing strategy that’s bold, distinguished and strong, enabling you to not only reach out to new customers but to retain existing ones too.

However, even with the best marketing techniques and bags of determination, some businesses still face tough times, especially when external factors arise that are out of their control. And if this is the situation you find yourself in today, you gotta have faith (thanks, George Michael) because there are a number of ways you can take control back, helping your business to thrive again.

If you’re not convinced that it’s possible, you need only look at Apple and how they went from being close to bankruptcy to being one of the biggest brands we know today. So, in order to revive a dying brand, here’s what you need to do:

The First Step to Branding Survival is to Find Out What’s Wrong

To be successful when you’re reviving a dying brand, you need to find out exactly what’s gone wrong in the first place. Think of it like when you get ill – you don’t just stay at home popping pills in the hope that you’ll get better because you could make things a whole lot worse. Instead, you’ll go to the doctors for an accurate diagnosis and this is exactly what your brand needs too.

You need to spend quality time trying to find out what’s caused this problem so you can develop an effective business plan that will help you to revive your business.

It’s also worth looking at your businesses strengths and weakness as a whole, honestly evaluating where your business does things right and where it could make dramatic improvements. We know this is like asking you what you like or dislike about your child but if you can find out what makes your business different from your competitors, you can use this to your advantage as you go through your rebranding efforts.

Reevaluate Your Products and the Market

Things are constantly changing and evolving, so it’s incredibly important that your company is on top of all of the latest innovations so it can provide the best possible services / products to its customers. Take a step back and evaluate your products, looking at them from a customer’s perspective. Would you buy them? Do they stand out from the crowd? Do they offer something unique?

Get into undercover mode too and look at what your competitors, taking inspiration from their products so you can find a niche (a better one, of course) for your own. And don’t forget to look at the industry as a whole, working out whether you’re targeting the right customer base and whether the requirements of your target market have changed.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to find out how customers are going to benefit from shopping with you. Being able to identify where you sit in the market and what your product capabilities are won’t be enough to revive your brand.

You need to understand how your customers are going to use the service or product you’re offering. What experience are they looking for? How are they going to learn about your products and how are they going to use it? This is critical when trying to get customers to re-engage with your brand.

Revisit Your Marketing Strategy

Now that you’ve evaluated where things have gone wrong (a painful process, we know) and you’ve developed your new product offerings, you need to market them to the masses. But don’t just fall into the same marketing strategy you were using before, even if it was effective when you first started out.

Brands that have successfully revived themselves have done so with the launch of a new marketing campaign that’s engaged and compelled customers, and this is exactly what you need to do. Get the team together and throw some ideas around, working out how you can attract customers and regain the trust of the ones you’ve lost.

Having a new clear strategy will help you create the consistency that you’ll need for your brand to succeed, so make sure all of your employees are on the same page too. As the business owner, you’ll probably be more comfortable talking about the background of the company but it’s important that your staff can do this too (plus you don’t want a motormouth employee divulging your deepest, darkest secrets either!). So, draft up some slogans and talk them through some pitches so the entire company is passing the same message across to customers.

And finally, don’t forget to create lots of content about your business so your customers feel informed at every stage of their purchasing journey. Be meaningful in your content and showcase your expertise, sharing it across a multitude of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Reaching out to influencers and creating conversations around your brand will help to make sure you’re seen as a trusted leader in the industry because customers don’t just want to hear about your products all the time (if you just do this, you’re the business equivalent of a baby bore).

In summary; if you can identify the root of your problems, you’ll be able to create a strategy that helps you to focus on the products you are selling and the market you’re targeting. With this in place, you can then put together a marketing strategy that helps to put your brand back in front of your customers, with a consistent message and a trustworthy image.

And don’t forget one of the most important things you need as you go through this process – belief. If you look downhearted and as though you’ve given up, your employees won’t be inspired and the messages you send out will be lackluster. Embrace your company’s vision and commit yourself to its success and your employees and customers will develop the same belief in your brand.

Branding Resurrection: How 5 Companies Brought Their Brand Back to Life

When a brand falls out of favor with customers, companies have two choices. They accept defeat, move on and try again with another brand; or they take it on the chin and adopt an exceptional comeback plan. Branding resurrection isn’t a walk in the park but there are some brands out there that’ve made a success of their rebranding – and some of them have become even bigger and better than they were before.

LEGO and Its Branding Resurrection

New and innovative product designs were introduced by LEGO in the late 90’s, creating thousands of unique pieces that were entirely removed from the classic brick system that LEGO was renowned for. This strategy resulted in a $300 million loss in 2003, followed by a projected loss of $400 million the year after. All of these new pieces they’d designed didn’t appeal to their primary audience – kids.

So, to find out where they’d gone wrong they asked kids what they wanted from LEGO, and the answer was simple – they wanted to build. They didn’t want to play with LEGO action figures that had been pre-built (I mean, where’s the fun in that?) so LEGO reverted back to form and the “Imagine” campaign was created. This showed off LEGO’s classic bricks which were casting shadows of more complex objects, reflecting how a child’s imagination works when they play with LEGO.

The result? In 2015, LEGO became the second-biggest toy company in the world with $5.2 billion revenue.

Old Spice

Despite their popularity in the 80’s, Old Spice started to struggle towards the end of 2000, with new competitor’s Axe taking over a large proportion of their market share. Axe offered a modern and sleek brand whilst Old Spice was outdated and stale (a bit like the men who were wearing it), and the sales reflected this.

One particular problem they had was with their deodorant scent “Glacial Falls” which wasn’t performing well. And in order to change this, they enlisted the help of the agency, Wieden + Kennedy.

The campaign for Old Spice Swagger commenced in 2008 and included an interactive website, TV ads and print ads. The result? Old Spice quadrupled their sales on an underperforming product – but the resurrection of their brand didn’t just end there.

The “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign was launched in 2010 and their reputation as a modern brand was confirmed with Isaiah Mustafa (a former NFLer) appearing in their ads (this guy definitely wasn’t outdated and stale!). After just six months, Old Spice once again became a category leader with their body wash sales increasing by 27%.


The expansion of Starbucks was well under way at the start of the 2000’s both with the products on offer and the number of stores they’d opened. But even though coffee fans flocked to their stores, the quality of service on offer couldn’t keep up with this increased demand. Furthermore, because they’d started to invest in other non-coffee related things, e.g. music, the public started to feel like they were diluting their brand – they’d lost their consistency.

When the economic downturn came in 2008, Starbucks started to flounder with many believing that their days were over. But to try and keep their business alive, Starbucks closed over 900 stores, making a huge number of people redundant in the process.

With everyone now watching their dollars, turning to cheaper alternatives like McDonald’s, a new game plan was needed. Starbucks needed to convince customers that their coffee was worth paying that little bit extra for.

Teaming up with agency BBDO, they launched the campaign, “Coffee values and values”, which helped to propel them back towards success. Within this campaign, they used lines such as “If your coffee isn’t perfect, we’ll make it over. If it’s still not perfect, you must not be in a Starbucks”. Confident but sassy.

The result? Starbucks showcased their brand as one that’s focused on providing quality coffee, which resulted in $16 billion revenue in 2014.


As the world’s biggest player in comic books, Marvel is home to a number of iconic characters, including Captain America and Spider-Man. But when the comics market crashed in the mid-90’s, Marvel was left broke and could do nothing to save themselves from bankruptcy. But if a company that’s responsible for some of the most awe-inspiring superheroes gave up without a fight, what hope is there for the rest of us?

In 1999, Peter Cuneo became CEO of Marvel and introduced Isaac Perlmutter to the company. They adopted a licensing model for all of their different forms of media, including television shows and movies. This enabled them to cut back on their capital and conserve cash.

But in order to make the company grow they realized that they needed to make sure they didn’t just appeal to comic book fans (we don’t need to describe what these guys look like, do we?) but appealed to the general public as a whole. The result? They focused on movies, creating X-Men, Spider-Man, the Avengers and Iron Man, which are all being billion-dollar franchises today.

Apple Inc.

No article about brand resurrections would be complete without mentioning Apple Inc. as many hail this as the greatest comeback of them all. Apple enjoyed their early success during the late 70’s and early 80’s, creating the likes of the Apple II and Apple III computers. But when co-founder Steve Jobs was fired in 1985 due to creative differences, things started to fall apart for the brand with many believing there were no more bites left of this apple.

However, in 1997 Jobs was reintroduced to the company and he brought with him some revolutionary ideas that turned the company around. He cavorted (quite unashamedly, we might add) with their biggest rival, Microsoft, taking a cash infusion of $150 million in order to get the rights to ship Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office on the Macintosh. He also looked at other avenues that ventured away from the traditional Mac, focusing on iPhones and iPods and he started opening more Apple stores, making sure his products were in front of everyone.

The result? Apple is now worth $586 billion (as of May 2016) and enjoys a 40% share in the U.S. smartphone market. And who can imagine a world without iPhones and iPads?

So, what can you learn from the amazing comebacks that these brands have enjoyed? Firstly, if you see something’s not working, you need to change it. Then you need to make sure you’re differentiating yourself from your competitors so you can bring a new twist to your customers. And finally, don’t be afraid to break the mold. Many of these organizations have resisted the norm to enjoy their branding resurrection.

5 Big Lessons from the World’s Top Branding Experts

Are you trying to expand your brand? Looking to start exporting goods? Or do you just want to get your brand’s reputation off the ground? Whatever stage your brand’s at, it’s important that you find the right ways to propel it forward into your chosen industry. To help you along, we’ve collated some advice from the world’s top branding experts to bring you 5 important lessons that any brand can learn from.

Branding Experts Tell You to Discover the Story Behind Your Business

Customers don’t want to spend lots of time trying to find out what you can offer them, which is why many branding experts believe that you need to get to the point quickly. You need to find a way of telling your brand’s story, choosing the details that are going to be most engaging and informative for your customer. (Think about that person you always avoid at parties because they take an hour to tell a five-minute story and you’ll understand exactly what you’re trying to do for your customers!)

Iain Bluett, co-founder of Freshtex, found that when he launched his company he had a higher rate of engagement when using brief emails and short videos to showcase his brand. These got straight to the point unlike other longer forms of content, capturing people’s attention quickly without lots of unnecessary jargon.

James Cotton, the founder, and director of Onespacemedia (a digital creative agency), also feels that an effective way of engaging the audience is to use a humanistic approach. He cites the trend of telling a founder’s story for technology startups, which he believes is a great conversation starter and covers the often forgotten part of a business – the people behind it.

Build Relationships that Create Opportunities for Your Business

To get the biggest return on investment, Lewis Howes, former professional football player and host of The School of Greatness podcast, suggests that you make friends and develop relationships. He believes that many opportunities for businesses arise out of these initial connections, and these will only come about if you go out there and find them. He also comments that you shouldn’t just network with influencers but should also try to make friends with them.

And thanks to technology, making friends is much easier than it was on your first day at school! Make connections and build professional relationships by attending local events, discovering people who are willing to engage with you on social media and connecting with people through online forums.

Be Consistent with Your Brand and Its Message

Being consistent is something that seems straightforward but over time, it can be easy to deviate from the original brand messages that you put in place. However, a number of experts believe that one of the keys to establishing and maintaining a good reputation is to be consistent in how you portray your brand and follow its key commitments.

For example, Marlee Ward, founder of Radical Entrepreneur, believes that a brand isn’t just about a logo or name. Instead, it’s about the overall experience that’s provided to the customer and if you’re not consistent with this, customers are going to question why they should invest their time and money into you. There are plenty of other choices out there for them so be clear in what you’re going to offer them but then make sure you offer them this without fail.

Jessica Kupferman, founder, and host of Lady Business Radio, adds to this by saying that if you deviate from the look of your brand, even if it’s only slight, you’re going to confuse the customer. You should be married to your brand, making sure it reflects your personality and you. Then, by being yourself (warts and all), you’ll make sure your brand retains its strength and consistency.

Make Key Business Decisions, Using Your Brand as a Filter

Once you’ve developed your brand’s unique promise, this provides you with the perfect filter for all of those important decisions that you’ll need to make, suggests Julie Cottineau, founder, and CEO of BrandTwist. Some of these decisions will be what you’re going to charge customers, what new services / products you’re going to offer and how you can use social media to effectively drive your brand’s mission.

By developing a strong brand, it helps you to make these crucial decisions with more precision and within a shorter period of time. Good brands will drive forward their message at every touch point with the customer. Cottineau uses Starbucks as an example suggesting that they don’t just say that they’re about community and coffee – they prove it. When you walk into a Starbucks, you can feel their brand promise being realized and they do this by using everything from the comfy seats they provide to the baristas that are donned in green aprons.

Be Ethical. Be Transparent. Be Honest. And Change Negative Opinions.

Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc., believes that when you’re looking to improve your online reputation, you need to have a moral compass and be honest, transparent and ethical. She also suggests that when people say a company has a “PR problem” when negative comments about them go public, this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it’s just an elaborate excuse because the true problem lies in their customer service or business operations or executions. And until they’ve fixed these things internally, they’re never going to be able to improve their brand’s reputation.

If a company needs to clean up a previous process or executive team, Dietrich points them in the direction of online searches. They should search all of the social networks for “I hate [COMPANY NAME]” and take a look around all of the review sites, e.g. Yelp, to find out what people are saying (warning – you may need some Dutch courage to get you through this part!). Then, they need to reply to all of these people, offering to chat with them to prove how they’ve changed. They then need to create content that showcases how their brand has changed and how their processes are different. It won’t happen overnight but eventually the brand’s reputation will start to shift in the right direction.