BrandTalk: The brand lifecycle

temporary

I love this shirt. Makes me want to take chalk to a black t-shirt right now and see if this could be re-enacted ……I love this shirt because of the effect- but mostly the message.

You are temporary.

Take note brands. You have a life cycle. You have a beginning, a middle and yes and END.  Of course,  this timeline can be manipulated and extended. And many have mastered the art and found the fountain of youth for brand love.

There is a very real reason brands reinvent themselves with the frequency of a teenager changing her clothes for a first date. They are trying to be ‘re-born’, and to push the clock back on their finite time of existence. Let’s take a look at the known life cycle:

Brand Birth: they are new, scrappy and FRESH as a spring rose. Hipsters are attracted to The Brand because they represent something outside the establishment. They embrace social media because as marketing costs go- its practically free.

Brand Pupa: While attempting to still maintain that fresh-outsider thing, they have now amassed popularity that makes the other well-established brands take notice. Brand Pupa’s carry on, in their naivety believing they can stay in this phase forever. Their online community grows and seems to reach critical mass success.

Brand Money: The money is pouring in. Large ad campaigns are developed. Exposure goes from word of mouth and ground roots to ego boosting traditional avenues like expensive print ads, billboards and commercials. The founders are largely more involved with promotion and growth plans than the product offerings. The world is their wallet- only what they fail to notice, is that those hipsters that started it all for them are moving on to the next brand giving birth. Brand Money is now too established and well known to retain the cool factor of discovery. Lawyers and legal start to question and filter and stifle digital communications and social platforms. Agencies are hired to manage social media- and the ever lasting struggle to create excitement while playing it safe begins.

Brand Mature: The original fans have completely moved on and Brand Mature’s growth opportunities are often focused on beating the competition in price and availability and not on innovation. This is a grey-haired-suit-wearing brand now. If they have managed to retain their social media channels, they use them to promote their products and offer coupons/discounts. They still insist on spending a years marketing budget on a commercial for the Super Bowl because it marks a level of success for them, rather it being an effective broadcast medium. Ultimately Brands Mature become sick with ego.

And here the life cycle splits. Brands either goes into the Brand Decay phase (think licensing Ed Hardy artwork to car air fresheners) with a slow and painful death or the preferred Brand RENEW….

Brand ReNew: Let’s try a new logo (Gap) , a new slogan or a new way of doing business (JC Penny). We can hire new and fire old. We can change headquarters. Change affiliations and endorsers. We will have our new CEO/COO/Janitor say things like ‘We actually see ourselves as a start up. We are completely rebuilding and rebranding’ on morning talk shows.

Amazingly, a good Brand ReNew can actually work. It’s a bit like passing a monarchy down from one leadership to the next, the public is given the impression of fresh thinking. Of course without innovative new products or offerings, trying to appeal to the ‘younger’ and hipper market is futile and often appears pathetic to the average consumer.

The ReNew phase only works when brands authentically are wiping the old clean and starting clean; with fresh thinking and with a constant stream of new new NEW. Digital media is essential in this phase, allowing instant publishing and connecting with consumers in spaces where they are already flourishing.  Sadly many brands fail to really understand what it means to ReNew, and they only do surface changes unwilling to take risks made in the early days of the life cycle. Changing  your logo or graphics is a start- but changing your story and connection channels to consumers is how to win. Because all brands, at any phase in the lifecycle can ‘stay young’ with valuable, sincere and authentic engagement. The brands who fail to accept the marketing transition to digital and social will never be able to enact a brand revival. What happens to those who fake a Brand ReNew? Well, see the sad tale of  Brand Decay above.

So, tell me- where is your brand in the lifecycle?

Are you making out a Brand Will or working on ideas to elongate your life span?


Do you have a questions for Marcy,
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