• Transform magazine
  • July 18, 2019

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Opinion: Rebranding for a new generation

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Some brands rely on what has worked in the past, instead of looking to the future. Vince Kerrigan discusses the importance of rebranding for a new generation.

Recent expansive rebrands from the likes of Admiral and Bird’s Eye have seen the return of old characters, The Admiral and Captain Bird’s Eye, for a new generation of consumers. Is this clever marketing, playing to our nation’s love of nostalgia? Or are these rebrands missing a trick with a new and somewhat savvier target audience?

You could question whether some brands are beginning to rely too much on the previous generation’s love of old favourites to persuade a new customer base. So should brands be concentrating so much on what has worked in the past instead of reviewing what is attracting new audiences here and now? But then again, if it still works and the brand is still successful, why try and change it?

Eighties brand Vitalite, recently rebranded as a dairy free alternative to butter, in order to target the growing dairy free population in the UK. This is a good example of brands moving with the times, appealing to the customer’s changing wants and needs. Another great example of this is Lego. Once on the brink of bankruptcy, with a new generation of children disinterested and after new and more exciting toys, the brand cleverly repositioned itself as, not just a toy brand, but essentially a retail brand. It started diversifying its product portfolio to appeal to a generation interested in rich media, making the jump into movies and video games. It even began to partner with other brands to elevate its product further, a risky decision maybe, but one that has seen it catapulted back to the top of the list of toy chest staples.

Because audiences are constantly changing, brands need to recognise that what may have worked 10 or 20 years ago isn’t necessarily going to work now. Constantly assessing your brand strategy is a vital part of good, and clever, brand management. The new millennial audience is not only savvier than previous generations but also sceptical and more aware of marketing ploys.

Often referenced as one of the best rebrands in the last 10 years is Old Spice which, until recently, was associated with a much older generation with quite a staid reputation. Then, through one clever viral ad in 2010, featuring former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa riding a white stallion, the brand reached out to a younger audience which led to an 11% increase in sales within the first year, and it has continued to gain momentum ever since.

In short, although some great brands are still using iconic characters effectively (who doesn’t love Tony the Tiger!), brands need to assess their brand strategies on a regular basis. What works for one generation isn’t necessarily going to work for another, and brands must keep up with the ever-growing sophistication of new audiences.

Vince Kerrigan, strategic solutions manager at brand communications agency, Vital Communications.