In favour of brand euthanasia. Is it time to make way for the next generation?

22/03/19

Some brands should know when it's time to switch off the life support and make room for the next generation doing things a better way.

Corporate FMCG giants have been sitting on their hands for the past decade, waiting for the start-up bubble to burst so they can rule the shelves again. They've been dozing and are only now realising that these plucky challengers aren't going away.

The number of brands out there is immense. They won't all survive, but the ones that will understand a simple truth: you need a quality product that's actually relevant to the consumer. Unfortunately, some big corporates are too far out of touch to know the difference and think a lick of paint will cut it. But now is the time to be brave – nostalgia is no reason to keep a brand around.

A new generation of brands are harnessing knowledge to make things in a better way. As well as creating better products, they are maximising the opportunities offered by science and technology to grow within the boundaries of our planet’s reserves. These are the businesses we need to make way for.

Should the brand even be created today?

It’s widely recognised that consumers would be happy if 75% of all brands disappeared tomorrow. There's too much stuff. We need to champion quality over unnecessary quantity. Big corporates need to get back into that entrepreneurial mindset and think, honestly: 'Should this brand be created today?'

There is a raft of brands born in the ‘60s, ‘70s, or ‘80s that should just no longer exist. We have learnt, moved on, and people are coming out with options that are simply better. Those are the brands we should be excited about. Do kids really need health-destroying sugar-laden cereals? We need to transfer the energy being spent on these brands to others that might actually positively progress the health and wellness of people and the planet.

Of course, nostalgia creates a strong emotional connection with the consumer; marketers have engaged it for years as a mechanism for creating consumer desire. However, the brands that harness nostalgia well also offer a fresh and relevant perspective on the future. They have an understanding of modern culture and how it is changing and they ask, ‘what is my role as we move into the future’.

Take Marmite. It’s not necessarily a product that would thrive if launched today but over the past 116 years the brand has become a household staple. Brave campaigns such as ‘End Marmite Neglect’ have drawn on the brand’s heritage status whilst engaging a modern audience, winning an influx of new consumers and helping those that may have drifted to rediscover the brand.

Lazy brands won’t survive

In recent years, the high street has been a hotbed of brands that have outstayed their welcome in the modern world. Look at Woolworths, or Blockbuster: they were simply too slow to tap into consumer demand and see what was coming from the likes of Amazon and Netflix. Maybe we need to start seeing more of this extinction in the FMCG world so businesses’ intellect and energy can be spent on behaving in more challenging and progressive ways?

Of course, being a challenger is more than a mindset. We've had conversations with big brands where they've said: 'We're going to be nimble. We're going to work fast.' Being a great entrepreneur is not just about being quick to market, it's about having a great idea, and knowing that no one else is doing it. You have to take a risk and be brave. If your notion of innovation is seeing what the challengers are doing and copying it, then you have no notion of what innovation can be.

There are no more excuses. If your product’s not relevant or is not answering a specific need in a smart way, let it go. Brand euthanasia.

Article by Lisa Desforges, Strategy Director at B&B studio. Originally published in City AM

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