It being Olympic season and all, I’ve been watching a lot of sports on television, and one of the most interesting ones is gymnastics, particularly women’s. I have the sense that all the prancing, posing and dance in a floor routine is only there to disguise truly terrifying brute strength. I’m also fascinated by the whole “degree of difficulty” concept. In marketing, I think the routine with the highest degree of difficulty is a rebranding.
When you rebrand, you’re basically deciding to either eliminate or alter perceptions that you’ve spent years and a LOT of money constructing. It’s the equivalent of stopping an aircraft carrier, or deciding to paint a horse so it looks like a zebra. It’s easy to mess up, it usually doesn’t work (New Coke, anyone?) and it often requires immense amounts of money and time to get to stick. The key to avoiding this is a deft, finessed rebranding that leverages the previous brand’s attributes, but uses them in a new, meaningful way. Post-It, the people who make sticky notes, are rebranding their product as a memory/productivity/success aid, and the ad I saw was both beautifully done and a perfect example of how to artfully rebrand. Take a look.
The best rebranding ties a product or a service to what the customer (or client) really cares about. In this case, it’s about six things — the desire to achieve, to look good in front of peers, to triumph over the endless anxiety of being a young girl, and to teach young women to excel and compete. All this was connected to a product that’s literally a little piece of sticky paper. Ultimately, the commercial credibly makes the point that if you write something down on a Post-it note, it’s going to happen, which is kind of amazing, but the ad successfully sells the concept.
Now, here’s the ugly part. If 3M can do this with such a prosaic object, then there’s kind of no excuse for being unable to do it with a professional services firm, is there?