drink with iceThe much-talked-about TV series “Mad Men” is no more. Its last episode aired Sunday, May 17, 2015. Fan or not, if you’re in marketing or communications, you’ve heard about it. The show depicted life in the 1960s in a New York ad agency that handled consumer brands — fast food, airlines, cars, cigarettes.

Given that premise, what could be the take-away for a Midwest B2B marketing communications professional in 2015?

Consider it this way. When you look at the show from start to finish, it’s really about the journey each character takes and how he or she evolves given their changing environment. Peggy asserts herself and gets the accounts she wants. Joan turns her back on a “safe” relationship and starts her own business. Don finds inner peace at a consciousness-raising retreat and goes on to create one of Coke’s most iconic campaigns. (OK. The show was ambiguous on this point.)

Brand evolution
Betty Crocker graphic
We all are challenged to adapt, evolve and grow. That’s also what brands need to do to remain relevant. There’s a difference, though. Personal evolution is often unintentional, brought on by changes in our community, family or environment. An illness, a move, a new boss. These changes push us to change, but the process can be so subtle it’s not even noticed.

Brand evolution, often called re-branding, is a much more intentional process. You or your agency notices your look and/or messages are no longer hitting the right hot buttons with your target audience. What do you do? Look at how these well known brands have handled the challenge:

  • General Mills’ Betty Crocker, a trusted brand for many years, has changed the look of their namesake over time to match their consumer target’s expectations. These changes haven’t been made on a whim but were done carefully and backed by market research.
  • International brand, 3M, has carefully studied its markets and products to evolve its look
    and messages over time.

Research before re-branding
The marketing moral? Research your market before you re-brand. You know your market, of course, but there’s a lot at stake when you’re evolving your brand. It makes sense to back up your knowledge with research.

Time and again CCC has seen the value of market research in discovering what target audiences are looking for. Here are examples from our experience:

  • Focus groups helped a mobile phone service provider select a name that resonated with prospective buyers. The name chosen by the focus groups wasn’t the company’s front-runner.
  • Telephone research revealed the product message buyers saw as most important so a valve manufacturer could successfully launch a strategic new product and company direction. Without this research the company would have taken a different direction.
  • Customer interviews guided an electrical enclosure manufacturer’s re-branding by providing feedback on messages and taglines. The re-branding was well received in the market.

When it’s time for a new stage for your brand, be intentional and use research to help you chart your course.

Looking for help with re-branding? Contact your CCC account manager or email smcpherson@cccinc.com.