When you see the new Pepsi brands – from different tastes to the amazing cans that change artwork with every 12-pack you buy – do you wonder why they would tinker with something that always appeared to be working? What prompts a successful brand to change its image?
Today’s brands face a number of challenges. First, everything is accessible. If you have the money, luxury is everywhere. If you can’t afford it, discounts are everywhere. Can’t find it? Check the Internet – or simply ask your local grocer. Second, you can run but you can’t hide. There is an emotionally-charged catalog of blogs and forums about your brand on the Internet right now. Just Google it. Right or wrong, people are talking about you and their experience with your company (with or without your permission). Third, the context for brand experiences is getting wider. One category of product causes consumers to expect that same level of delight in other categories. Apple has raised the level of expectations in user-experience to automobiles, websites, mobile phones, on and on… Lastly, great art is all around us. From fashion, to movie theatres, to signs, to the way your on-demand TV looks and feels – great design is mandatory to get a sniff of the action.
How do you keep up with it all? How can you continue to be in the running, be well-liked, up to par and make an impression? Re-invention. Give your brand a chemical peel. Get rid of the worn out façade. Strip it back to the core essence and re-face it. Create a new symbol that makes a connection with a demanding and increasingly discerning audience, yet retains and amplifies the equity that got you there. Create a new line of products that invigorate the entire spectrum. Put an edge on something. Take a risk. Scare the heck out of yourself. Dive in, cannonball style.
Same old, same old doesn’t cut it anymore. Because a brand isn’t a color or a logo or a tagline or an ad campaign. It’s a feeling – a powerful, emotional link to your audience. Start there. Answer the question, “Does my brand mean anything to our customer? Does it attract and motivate new customers?” If your answer is “no,” now is the time to find a way. Give them something they want, something they need. Present it in a new way. Be brave. Make them feel your passion.
When I think of Coke – I think yesterday. They even call it, “classic.” But when I think Pepsi – I think tomorrow. It’s for “the next generation.” Pepsi knows this, and knows it must continue to evolve its symbols around the idea of “tomorrow/next/innovation/bold.” If Pepsi starts to look like “today,” or even worse, “yesterday,” they know it’s time to pull up camp, be brave – and set the stakes further out.