The art of changing perceptions

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Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Pitch

Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, Pitch

“Brand value is very much like an onion. It has layers and a core. The core is the user who will stick with you until the very end.”      -Edwin Artzt

Perception and the consumers’ experience with the brand is the main driving point of any brand’s existence and the key to both creating and sustaining a loyal customer base, which is shaped by both functional and emotional experiences, as well as the brand promise.

Brand reinvention or rebranding is all about changing this perception and getting the consumer to see the brand in a new light. Companies rebrand their identity, goals, messages, and culture; primarily to reconsider and reorganise their core proposition. A change of a significant element of the brand can be with respect to the introduction of a new brand identity, a new logo, a brand name, or a more subtle change in its communication plan to deliver the intended message in a better, improved form. Sometimes, companies also reinvent brands by changing their value proposition, to encompass a new consumer group.

However, whatever the nature of the makeover, innovation remains the crucial underlying factor. A refreshingly new spin on things to capture new audiences in a technology-driven, constantly changing market scenario, while at the same time keeping the brand ethos intact.

Fast food chains perhaps, figure among the top few product categories which has seen aggressive rebranding. The recent announcement of popular global chain, Burger King undergoing an overhauling of its menu and getting a healthy makeover adds to the increasing number of international food chains like McDonald’s who are rebranding themselves as more health conscious, in an attempt to attract a wider consumer audience.

If one moves beyond the classical definition of rebranding to encompass a more loosely used term ‘change’, then film franchises and makeovers are a case in point. Intentional re-imagining of franchises or sequels to popular movies is based on the same premise of introducing a new element while retaining the core.

The ‘Spider-Man’ movie franchise is now on its way to being revamped years after the first film hit theatres. The ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, slated to release next month is a reboot of Sony Pictures’ lucrative film franchise, being directed by Marc Webb, featuring a new actor in the lead role, Andrew Garfield and based on the classic Marvel comics super-hero. To cite another example, the soon to be released ‘The Dark Night Rises’, is the last instalment in Christopher Nolan’s batman trilogy, a franchise that has grossed billions of dollars. There have been rumours doing the rounds of a reboot of this franchise after the third film comes out.

The examples are plenty, but in the end it all boils down to the kind of rebranding. Whether it is a well-researched attempt on a company’s part to reintroduce a product or concept, or is it a superfluous, intangible exercise, a mere window-dressing? What is the end desired result the rebranding exercise is seeking ?

In context of media brands, it’s an even more complex exercise and perceptions might not be easy to change. The content and people also play a big role in a media brand’s proposition and especially if it is a news media brand. In India, media brands are constantly re-evolving to deal with opportunities and challenges in the marketplace.

“Attention is the scarcest commodity in media. It is also the most strategically vital.” What Jimmy Maymann of Goviral said is so relevant to media brands wanting to rebrand. However, the most important part is whether the attention the media brand is getting is engineered towards attributes that the media owner wishes to accentuate through the rebranding exercise.

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