Branding is how a company presents itself to the consumer. Through its ads, logo and communications style, the company hopes to build a long-lasting relationship with its target audience. However, there is a fine line between success and failure. As the "new Coke" fiasco proves, tampering with old favourites is an invitation to trouble. On the other hand, Apple's simplified logo is frequently held up as a successful example of branding done correctly.
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Companies must constantly re-examine strategy, which sometimes requires a complete overhaul of the brand. Faced with declining business during the 1990s, Apple abandoned its old rainbow-hued logo for a starker, monochromatic update -- and simplified its advertising, "Wired" reported in a December 2002 commentary. According to "Wired," the move convinced consumers that Apple had not lost its creative touch and is credited as a key factor in restoring its commercial fortunes.
In April 1985, Coca-Cola introduced a sweeter version of its classic soft drink. The company based its decision on four years of tests, in which 55 per cent of the 190,000 participants chose the new formula, the "New York Times" reported in January 2009. Before long, more than 1,500 complaints per day lit up company hotlines. Ten weeks later, the old formula returned to shelves as "Coca-Cola Classic" -- a title that remained in effect through the summer of 2009.
Tough situations can offer chances to successfully rebrand a product. When Coca-Cola's Australian division ran into resistance to its Mother energy drink, the company rolled out a reformulated version that became one of the year's biggest marketing successes, "Datamonitor" reported in February 2010. In America, Old El Paso did equally well by capitalising on recession-pinched families re-creating the ritual of "taco night." Sales jumped 9 per cent during the last quarter of 2009 as a result.
Using celebrities to sell products has limits, too. The implosion of Tiger Woods' personal life and picture-perfect image led to an 18 to 19 per cent drop off in his approval rating, BrandCamp University reported in November 2009. With endorsements accounting for 80 to 90 per cent of the golfer's income, the loss of his Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette sponsorships promised to be devastating. According to BrandCamp, the Woods scandals showed the difficulty of building personal brands around an overly idealised image.
Ethical branding has emerged as an important marketing tool in driving purchasing decisions. Facing a flat market for household care products, Clorox responded by tapping public interest in environmentally friendly "green" products, according to Datamonitor. As a result, Green Works now accounts for about 40 per cent of the green marketplace. Apple has made similar inroads by offering products like the iPod, which are meant to make computing a more intimate, personalised experience.
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