Nobody actually wants to do brand repositioning for their business. In a perfect world, the brand wouldn’t need to be changed at all, and sales would keep on rising. Yet, reality has a way of challenging this ideal scenario.

Truth is, repositioning your brand is not the end of the world. Yes, it takes some work, but eventually the work that you do can have a meaningful impact on your bottom line. Plenty of businesses go through a brand repositioning process and come out even better than before!

If you are thinking about repositioning your brand’s place in the market, then join me as we discuss what it is, how to do it, and go through a couple of successful examples. By the end, you should be intimidated and have confidence that everything will be okay in the end!

What exactly does “brand repositioning” mean, and why should you do it?

A simple Google search will yield plenty of results for a brand repositioning definition, but here is a simple one: repositioning a brand is changing the approach to marketing a product or service to make it more appealing to your target audience.

In today’s rapidly moving business landscape, the ability to quickly reposition is important to a company’s survival. There is always going to be more competition, new products, and an ever present scrutiny from consumers. As a result, brands need to spend the appropriate amount of time and resources into measuring and (possibly) changing their approach to the market to stay relevant.

If sales are starting to become stale, then repositioning is an opportunity to create a more appealing marketing strategy. It’s a fresh start, to some degree. You can see your offering from an entirely different perspective, exploring new ideas that help to evolve what your business is all about in the long run.

Brand repositioning is actually part of your brand’s overall strategy. Shifting slightly to meet market needs is always a good thing.

Some positive outcomes include:

  • Finding new potential buyers
  • Using new marketing methods
  • Creating deeper connections with your core audience
  • Keeping your brand “top of mind” in your market

The benefits of brand repositioning sound great, but how do you do it?

Before you consider repositioning your brand, you first need to determine the current state of the brand. Specifically, how is the brand doing with the existing value proposition? You should measure this over time, and the data has to be quantitative. For example, the following could be compared on a year-over-year basis:

  • Sales
  • Website visitors
  • Customer engagements (social shares, contacts, etc.)
  • Brand mentions in media

If important figures like these are trending down or becoming stagnant, then it could be time to reposition your brand.

The process is the same as always, you need to understand who your target audiences are, and what motivate them. You can then use this to modify your unique value proposition. Just make sure that the value proposition you create has considered the approach your major competitors are taking into the market as well.

I have discussed creating a brand positioning statement and unique value proposition in greater detail before, so I will refrain from going too far into that topic here. Let’s jump into some brand repositioning examples instead!

Starbucks reinvents their brand and sales skyrocket.

Since its inception in 1971, Starbucks has grown to more than 28,000 locations across the globe. Despite this success, they struggled to find a resonating identity in the early 2000s. This resulted in their coffee being passed over by millennial coffee drinkers who were more interested in small, independent coffee shops.

Recognizing this issue, Starbucks started the process of repositioning itself to appeal to this younger audience. In 2008, the company introduced a new marketing strategy. The approach? They wanted to be known as “not the usual”.

This new approach to the coffee market was intended to appeal to a younger audience by emphasizing the importance of virtues like community, personal development, and sustainability. It was a drastic change from Starbucks’ original marketing strategy, which was more focused on promoting the brand as the ultimate drink destination.

The company shifted the focus away from profit and towards the brand experience temporarily, and then used this new focus to reposition the company as a “third place” work and home.

Adidas shifts focus to culture.

Despite its long history, Adidas found itself struggling in the mid-2000s, with sales trending down and the company facing increased competition from one of its major rivals, Nike. In an effort to combat these issues, Adidas began repositioning its brand in an attempt to improve sales and reestablish itself as a cultural leader in the sports industry.

To reposition its brand, Adidas changed its marketing strategy to focus on culture and community instead of just their products, but they didn’t forget about that their products were the most important part of the business.

They began partnering with popular sports icons and events in an attempt to gain visibility of its products to a much larger audience – something that Adidas refrained from doing in the past.

As a result of this shift in the Adidas marketing model, they were able to make a cultural impact in ways that it hadn’t been able to in years, and in turn, they enjoyed healthy revenue figures worldwide.

Gap adapts to stay relevant.

In the early 2010s, Gap started to experience challenges due to increased competition from other retailers. Specifically, Amazon. In addition, consumer tastes were shifting, in particular towards high-end brands. Gap was losing out, so naturally, something had to be done.

To remain relevant, Gap began to reposition its brand by changing its product offerings and diversifying the marketing strategy. They gradually shifted its focus from denim towards other products such as athletic-leisure clothing, while at the same time increasing its investment in their online store.

In addition to repositioning its core product offerings, Gap also changed its marketing model. They began marketing as a full-service retailer with a wide range of products and services, rather than just a denim retailer.

Brand repositioning does not mean your brand is failing, it means you are actively competing!

To some, there is a stigma about taking time to reposition a brand. They see it as their brand being a failure and a desperate attempt to win more business. This just isn’t the case. As you can see from the previous examples, the world’s biggest brands take time to reposition, and they do it so that they can continue to compete in their respective markets.

Here’s the key takeaway: markets are not stagnant. Consumer demands change, and the landscape of the industry changes as a result of new entrants and technology. A brand position from 20 years ago is based on market data of the time. Humans change, and data changes.

Problems arise if you don’t stay on top of your industry through active market research. If you are too slow to adapt, then your business will struggle to stay relevant in the eyes of your potential customers. Remain vigilant, and you will never be slow to innovate.

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