Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: How a Repositioning Should Be Done

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: How a Repositioning Should Be Done

Article excerpt

Two fearless marketers will this week attempt scary repositioning strategies for iconic brands in need of major overhauls. Both are staking their careers - and about pounds 10m - on the hope that they can pull it off.

Drambuie's international marketing manager, Miranda Rennie, has the challenge of revitalising the brand in major markets such as the UK, US, Greece and Spain. The liqueur has more than 260 years of heritage, which even includes a link to Bonnie Prince Charlie. But in recent years, Drambuie has experienced the results of brand neglect. Its image is stuffy and irrelevant, and its ageing customer base is gradually dying.

Meanwhile, Justin Basini, Capital One's head of brand for Europe, is spearheading its repositioning in the UK. The aim is to replace its tacky and unloved image with a more positive and enduring brand equity. Capital One needs to climb out of the increasingly commoditised customer-credit basement, which it helped create and where low interest rates and massive churn make for unpleasant long-term prospects.

Although the odds are against either brand pulling it off, the initial signs suggest that our two brave marketers may triumph where many before have perished.

Both brands have understood and taken on board their heritage. Basini spent months studying Capital One's emergence in the US, while Rennie, who works alongside a director of brand heritage, is using Drambuie's original 'spirit of rebellion' as the basis for its focus on people with an 'adventurous spirit'.

Capital One and Drambuie enjoy a rare and beautiful thing: a chief executive who understands branding and appreciates its corporate importance.

The brands have been realistic in the time frames they have given themselves, with both quoting a turnaround of three years.

They have also both excelled in parsimonious target marketing. Drambuie has opted for a tight demographic of active males between the ages of 25 and 35. Capital One has gone a step further, and used data to create an accurate behavioural profile of apathetic customers who want to switch but can't be bothered.

In terms of positioning, both brands have eschewed the dreaded circles, keyholes and triangles that spell indolence and ineffectiveness, and reverted to the old-school approach of simple positioning statements. …

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