How to revive a brand

Cadbury, Lloyds and Jessops have all done it. Here's a crash course in reviving a brand.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 25 Jan 2016

Cadbury famously brought Wispa back off the shelf; Lloyds Banking Group has dusted off the two-centuries-old TSB name; and barely had the shutters dropped at camera retailer Jessops before it was being revived, Lazarus-like, from the dead. So if there are brands in your cupboard that could make a comeback, here's how to set about engineering their return.

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Why bother? 'It takes time and a lot of effort to build a new brand from scratch,' says Marie Ridgley, managing director of market insight consultancy Added Value in New York. 'If you have a dormant brand with positive associations, that's a good springboard to start from.'

Look for demand. Research if there's a latent demand for your brand. Social media can be a useful barometer. 'Before it brought back Monster Munch, Walkers could see there was talk and noise about it. The internet connects millions of people who might be loyal to a brand,' says Giles Lury, chairman of strategic brand consultants the Value Engineers and author of The Prisoner and the Penguin.

Check ownership. You revive somebody else's brand at your peril, point out lawyers Taylor Wessing - it could be deemed copyright infringement or passing off. Also, if somebody else owns the same brand in another country, it's a recipe for confusing the consumer.

What went wrong? It's worth analysing why the brand disappeared in the first place, as that will help you judge whether it has a future, says Mark Artus, CEO of brand agency 1HQ. 'Your starting point has to be whether there is a customer need for this brand. Some brands disappear because they have lost sight of their purpose, while others didn't get supported.'

Don't dwell on the past. 'Nostalgia can be a strategy that allows you to bring a brand back, but unless it resonates, it will prove short-lived,' says Lury. A brand that is revived purely on the back of nostalgia may prove no more than a novelty and without new consumers, it will die.

Consider a reboot. The Mini and the VW Beetle are both examples of brands that enjoyed revival - but in a sharply updated form. The same is true of food, says Ridgley. 'Since Heinz brought back Salad Cream, it has innovated with new formats and flavours. Otherwise, it's just a trip down memory lane.'

Tell the world. Your brand may have had a famous old ad campaign, but you need to communicate it in a way that's relevant today. PR, social media, and word of mouth could all be inexpensive ways to extract the most from the comeback story. Beyond that, you need to commit a level of support. 'Make sure you focus on new news,' says Lury.

Do say: 'The values that once made this brand so indispensable are being re-interpreted to make it relevant for today's consumers'

Don't say: 'Bring back the good old days!'

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