September '15

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rv-pro.com September 2015 • RV PRo • 73 Altering a Brand Carries Risk Independent brand marketing experts are mixed on the extent to which any company can take an established brand and alter it from its original format while maintaining the connection to the legacy name. Kerri Konik, CEO of Brandscape Atelier, a Philadelphia-based boutique agency special- izing in branding, says she would have reserva- tions about changing a product too much from its established brand because of the confusion it could cause for consumers. "That would not be a recommendation of mine," she says. "I think it is a stretch. … I think it's a strategy that has many pitfalls. If the brand was known before, you can take the brand forward, but you want to have a new product name. "You can't just call it the same thing. You can't just call it Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and turn it into frozen yogurt and think people won't mind. People mind. Yogurt is not ice cream. The risk is that (customers) will think you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes," she adds. If a brand has a strong value in the marketplace, but a company wants to take the new product in a different direction, Konik sug- gests a company consider modifying the brand name in some way, such as attaching "Plus" or "Lite" or "Pro" to the name. Mike Pile, creative director of San Francisco area-based Uppercase Branding, doesn't believe a new product necessarily needs to look like its legacy namesake or share the same character- istics, per se – but he does believe consumers need to be able to sense a strong connection between the two. "The brand is really the sum of all the consumer touch points. It's not just the name; it's not just the logo," he says. "So, if you're looking at what probably is an iconic brand and bringing that back and applying it to a different product category, you would want to make sure that the essence and the value and the equity of that brand aligns with the product category that you're going to apply it to." Pile says he would strongly encourage the owners of any business considering reviving a legacy brand to query past owners and pro- spective buyers to get their take on a brand's recognition, values and qualities, and then weigh the pros and cons before bringing it back. Matthew Sommer, chief operating officer of Brolik, a Philadelphia-based marketing firm focused on digital strategy and branding, says tweaking a brand is one thing, but taking it in a very different direction is another. "The real question is: Does this still fit with the brand positioning and promise of the original brand? If you're not cohesive with how people already think of the brand, you're probably better off just starting from scratch," he says. "If you're having to re-teach your target audience what your brand or product is, though, is it worth the extra confusion and effort to make them unlearn? "Taken from another angle," he says, "it doesn't surprise anyone too much when Porsche Design comes out with a high-end wrist- watch or luggage set. If Kia was to come out with a line of high-end wristwatches, though, it would be a real stretch. Why? Because Porsche doesn't actually sell cars; it sells a luxury aesthetic and lifestyle, of which a fun, fast car is a part." — Bradley Worrell Konik Pile Sommer

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