The top 5 rebranding mistakes to avoid
Don’t fix what’s not broken
Coca-Cola learned not to tamper with a beloved brand in 1985 when it decided to re-stage its iconic brand with “New Coke.” The public was outraged and let Coca-Cola know they didn’t want a “new” Coke. They wanted their old Coke, literally a quintessential icon in American popular culture. Coke responded within a few months and brought back “Classic Coke.” Classic Coke sales rebounded.
Although New Coke remained on the shelves, it eventually faded from stores. Some commentators felt the move to New Coke was a marketing gimmick to regenerate interest and sales in the brand after sales erosion due to the “Pepsi Challenge” taste test campaign. Don Keough, company President, responded to the charge saying "We're not that dumb, and we're not that smart".
Expansion may require a bigger umbrella
International Harvester changed its name to Navistar International in 1986 when it sold its farm equipment business and entered the truck, diesel engine, and bus markets. Although the name is “made up”, it broadened the brand and has strong connotations of movement and direction. As a 2013 company report stated, “Navistar was selected as a name with a strong sound, a resonance to Harvester, and a connection to its root words "navigate" and "star". It does all of those things and has since become the name of the holding company over multiple Navistar divisions, International Trucks, and MaxxForce Diesel engines.
Respect your heritage but don’t let it get in the way of making your brand relevant and compelling
Miller Felpax had been family owned since its inception more than 60 years ago. The Miller heritage could not be lost, particularly because his founding products were innovative for their time. However, the full name didn’t have the same meaning as it once did, so we changed one word that encapsulates aspects of our culture, our operating philosophy, and our service to our customers: “Ingenuity.”
At the same time, this name placed the company smack in the middle of the position we wanted to occupy in its current and future customers’ minds, an ingenuous company. The new Miller Ingenuity logo strongly asserts that it is a company that invents solutions to customers’ problems, develops products with expert engineering, and knocks itself out to deliver to customer expectations. The classic locomotive is a symbol of the company’s heritage - the forward thrust of the image and the typeface figuratively leans into the future - it’s all about forward motion.
Names have to be understandable, accessible, or at least intuitive in meaning
In the beginning it was unclear why Jeff Bezos would name a bookseller website, “Amazon.” The story is told that he named it after the river, of course, because of its size. An early logo consisted of a large “A” shape with a river-like line running down the middle of it. And the tagline was:“Earth’s biggest bookstore.” Bezos’ ambitions were as large as the company name, and he eventually developed a business model that would include far more than books. Amazon continues to fit this ecommerce giant now, doesn’t it? No wonder there’s a smile on the box.
Other names can be just plain difficult to figure out. When Kraft split off its snack division in 2012, they named it Mondelez. The name has been criticized on two counts. It’s hard to pronounce - what is the correct pronunciation? And, what does it mean? If you are a linguist you might understand the root words for “world” and “delicious”. Maybe. Similarly, Philip Morris renamed itself Altria when it was trying to position the company more as a food marketer and less as a tobacco company. What’s an Altria? Not intuitively understandable. One thing is clear: customers or consumers will not work to understand your name.
Unless you are a big player with an enormous marketing budget (e.g., IBM, GE, SAP, etc.), avoid brand names that are merely initials. If your initials are well established in the market, still ensure your tagline delivers a branded proposition or benefit. Consider the case of SAP, which is dominant in the Enterprise market and compliments it’s small and midsized business targets with the lines: “The Best Run Companies Run SAP” and “Run Better.” Of course, GE has the marketing muscle and marketplace presence to make big claims. Neither of these brands have re-staged their names but have evolved their brands’ taglines multiple times to reflect marketing objective and market needs.
About the author
With more than three decades of management, executive, consulting and speaking experience in markets all over the world, Miller Ingenuity CEO Steve Blue (www.StevenLBlue.com) is a globally regarded business growth authority who has transformed companies into industry giants and enthralled audiences with his dynamic keynotes. In his upcoming book, “Outdo, Outsmart… Outlast: A Practical Guide to Managed, Measured and Meaningful Growth,” he reveals why seeking growth and surviving growth are equally perilous, and require different sets of plans to weather the storms. Follow Steve @MillerIngenuity.
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”