• Transform magazine
  • May 26, 2024

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Brand transformation. Everyone’s talking about it, but are they really doing it?

Brand Potential Headhot

Josh Hunt, managing director at global brand agency Brand Potential, believes the word ‘transformation’ is overused in the context of rebranding. He explains what a real brand transformation is all about.

Transformation. It’s everywhere. But in the world of brands, ‘transformation’ is all too often a loose blanket term applied to a shift in business model, a brand redesign, or a new campaign. It’s not really transformation, is it? Maybe more like window dressing. It’s not delivering a fundamental shift in the way that people think and feel about a brand. 

Transformation needs to be well, transformative. It’s making brand go way beyond the marketing department: influencing how people in the real world – be they consumers, employees or investors – experience the brand on an everyday basis.

At Brand Potential, we think of brands in the round, as a collection of experiences but also as a balance sheet asset to be invested in. Through our work with brand owners like UnileverMarsHaleon and Kenvue and with private equity brand investors, we know what it takes to truly transform brands. And it’s more than research, more than smart strategy, more than eye-catching design, more than a good story. 

So what is it? It’s about understanding, reflecting and enabling the journey that a business is going on and the role of a brand in bringing that to life for everyone inside, outside and alongside the brand. It’s about getting under the bonnet of how a business operates commercially and operationally, how this might need to evolve to reflect the future vision of business and the commercial value that a transformed brand can deliver. Oh, and let’s not be naive, we need to be empathetic to the commercial costs and risks involved. Obvious spoiler alert: you need a business case, not just a great bit of creative.

Over the last few years, at Brand Potential, we’re proud to have helped with the transformation of many brands. We helped transform BWML (British Waterways and Marinas Ltd) into Aquavista – putting customer experience and the essence of waterside life at the heart of the brand. We’ve been working for years with leading Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn to transform the way their own brands operate, placing them at the heart of the commercial drive to maintain and build margins in an inflationary market. And we’ve worked with Sneak Energy to help them stretch the brand to new audiences and develop new opportunities for growth, giving a new management team and their backers the confidence to invest in the brand.

How? It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need depth. We help brands to know their audience, position their brand accordingly, innovate into new areas, inspire people and tell their story. 

So what makes a real transformation? We believe it takes commercial understanding coupled with creative flair. It’s about being a critical friend and partner. It’s about identifying and delivering a commercially valid, yet creatively inspiring growth path for a brand. To do all this, but also to make sure it reflects the business reality. True transformation, that drives real value, comes from where commercial and creative meet.

So maybe, to paraphrase the wise words of Elvis, brands need a little less conversation, a little more transformation.