If a Brand has Died, It’s Because it Deserved To… It’s as Simple as That

10 Feb 2014|Added Value

In November 2013, we held a roundtable debate to kick off Added Value’s 25 years in business. During the event we looked back at the marketing challenges and exciting brands of 1988, how brand and marketing strategies have changed over the last 25 years and what the years ahead will bring.

Taking part in the roundtable were Karen Paterson, Kantar, Elen Lewis, Editor, Patrick Jubb, Jaguar Land Rover, Paul Cowper, Added Value, Cate Hunt, Added Value and Martin Glenn, the United Biscuits CEO and also the new Marketing Society president (announced last month).

One of the main themes that emerged from the panel was the assertion that brands that have perished over the last 25 years deserved to go. It’s encouraging to see that the topic first discussed at our event is still making strong headway as Martin Glen further delved into brand longevity in his speech at The Marketing Society dinner this week, reported by Marketing Week.

“There’s always been a Darwinian evolution in brands” said Martin Glenn at the Added Value roundtable. “It was a very different top 100 [brands] than you see today… if you’re not evolving and making your offer fresh, it’s irrelevant.”

The panel agreed that the art to building brands fundamentally hasn’t changed over the last 25 years. Brands need to demonstrate a functional benefit – their product or service must solve a problem or fulfil a need. Historically, simplicity of concept has transpired into a significant competitive advantage. Brands that have lasted the test of time are brands that have stood for something and had a real cultural impact.

Cultural relevance now plays an important part in brand evolution. Brands that listen to culture have been able to transfer their iconic status into something much bigger than what they stand for or the product they represent. Red Bull is a good example of a brand with a unique positioning that has naturally evolved. Over the years it has expanded its offering whilst still staying true to its identify. Now, Red Bull is associated as much with excitement, thrill and extremity as it is its products.

Brands that have not succeeded have often failed to create or stand by their brand identity. We’ve seen some high-profile brands fail over the last 25 years. Take Blackberry for example, it had a fantastic proposition and for years it was the phone of choice for businesses and teenagers alike. However, Blackberry didn’t adapt to the changing landscape. It didn’t protect its brand. As Patrick Jubb, Director of Global Marketing at Jaguar Land Rover said during the Added Value event: “Blackberry failed… because they weren’t listening, they weren’t responding.” Even more vital to its demise is that the company didn’t have a clear identity – at times it seemed not even people in the business knew what the brand stood for or what it was.

“All business failures are marketing failures at their heart… the businesses that don’t exist today that did 20 or 30 years ago got their marketing wrong,” concluded Martin Glenn at the Marketing Society dinner in London. It’s as simple as that.


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