Re-invention, just like assumption, can be the mother of all cock ups. One look at MySpace is enough to prove that.
But for all the huge risks involved in re-designing and re-branding, the benefits can be huge. Bing has just undergone a complete facelift, part of ongoing efforts for the platform to be seen as more than just a search engine few people bother using. This comes after YouTube and Yahoo unveiled alterations to their logos, with Google reportedly working on a similar idea. Inspired by this spirit of change, we decided to think about some other examples of re-thinks that have impressed us here at Smoking Gun PR. Without further ado then, here’s what we came up with…
Manchester City Centre
Although born out of necessity (and a huge bombing), rather than choice, this is still an impressive feat. Pre-1996 the self-professed Capital of the North was cutting very few edges aside from in music and fashion. Skip forward 17 years, its population is booming, the economy diverse (and bucking trends set by most regional centres for the right reasons), and Town Hall spokespeople even have the confidence to highlight Barcelona as their biggest European rival in terms of conference and event-pull and business potential. Thanks to a coherent and collaborative effort across urban planning, tourism, marketing, and public relations, this is a case study of how to re-establish a global city in just under two decades.
Now, don’t get us wrong- there’s very little argument in the notion that Clarks Shoes are well made, and very comfortable. The problem was, for a while they weren’t perceived as particularly cool. Not so today, though. In the 21st Century, the brand sits proudly on racks alongside competitors once considered more refined and daring, meanwhile cult anti-hero Walter White, of Breaking Bad notoriety, is best pictured sporting his own pair of Clarks Wallabies. Thanks to slow re-positioning, and decision to emphasise the quality and longevity of the company’s shoes, those in charge have ensured they won’t become relics of the last age.
Apple iMac (G3)
In 1995, one of today’s market leading tech-giants was losing money at an alarming rate, and two years later the odds were on for an outright bankruptcy. In one of the best examples of how a complete rethink can not only galvanise a new marketplace but also save the fortunes of a company, Apple unveiled the iMac circa 1998, and it remains amongst the most iconic computers ever created. Despite disappointing performance tests against high-end PCs of the time, the aesthetics, and promotion of reliability and usability, were the real selling points here. And boy did it sell, managing replenish the ailing bank balance of its parent firm and re-position Macintosh as the platform of choice for people who want a machine that ‘just works’, and looks great.
OK, OK, so this is perhaps the most questionable of our entries. For starters, Thomas’ threads have always represented timeless British heritage realised in clothing. And it’s safe to say that there are still plenty of negative connotations that exist when it comes to that world famous check. Nevertheless, considering that not so long ago pubs were banning Burberry in the hope it would deter football hooligans from paying a visit, to say the brand is now back near the top of the English-made desirability pile (with Emma Watson and Kate Moss amongst the advocates) says a lot about how successful efforts to change perceptions have been.
The trouble is, if a brand becomes so successful it dominates a generation or two, when the fall out finally hits it’s going to be one hell of a long way down. Take the male grooming giant Proctor and Gamble bought back in 1990. Having been on a mission to keep men smelling fresh, or rather musky, for over half a century, the household name was no longer the first word on everyone’s anti-BO list. But, thanks to re-packaging, a complete change in corporate voice, and arguably the funniest viral videos ever used in a perfume campaign, even though half the western world’s dad and granddad used the stuff, Old Spice is no longer considered Old Hack.