The fight against aging has spawned an industry. Companies selling vitamins, lotions, cosmetics and exercise equipment have long thrived on humans’ fear of growing older. But what happens when it’s the companies themselves that are aging? How do they fight the stigma of being "old" in a society that values youth so highly? This is the question Jean-Marc Lehu seeks to answer in his book Brand Rejuvenation: How to Protect, Strengthen and Add Value to Your Brand to Prevent It From Aging.
Lehu, a consultant and Associate Marketing Professor at Pantheon Sorbonne University, clearly possesses a firm grasp of the subject matter. But this book is more than just a meditation on the maturation cycle of consumer products and services. The author has constructed a practical, example-filled guide which examines the causes of aging, how to prevent it, how to rejuvenate a brand in decline and how to know when a brand is beyond redemption. Lehu has even included worksheets to help readers apply the ideas put forth in his book.
A Practical Approach
Chapter one is titled "Auditing an ‘Old’ Brand," and Lehu has devised a multi-page scorecard to help the reader do just that. Users are asked to evaluate different symptoms and signs of aging such as "non-conformity to technological standards" and "declining press coverage about brand events or product launches" according to how dangerous the symptom is, how easy it would be to solve and the cost and time involved in doing so. This data is then used to determine whether each symptom should be ignored, monitored or corrected. This provides an excellent, practical introduction to the principles the author introduces in the rest of the book, giving them a real-world context.
Lehu goes on to examine the different types of age (chronological, biological, etc.) and the importance of accurately measuring a brand’s "perceived age." If it is perceived by consumers as old, then a concerted effort to rejuvenate it is necessary. Some aspects of the process include:
- Evaluating the environment — Even a high quality, well-accepted brand can wilt if efforts are not taken to keep it dynamic.
- Modifying the brand identity — Sometimes change is necessary, but Lehu cautions against drastic alterations that may alienate consumers.
- Advertising — The author identifies this as "one of the essential factors in the rejuvenation of a brand" and offers advice on using it effectively.
- Renewing the target market — The goal, according to Lehu, is not "changing it completely, but instead regenerating it and ideally, expanding it."
- Growing the product portfolio — A brand is only as good as the products it offers.
There’s no reason to wait until a brand has begun to decline to start implementing Lehu’s advice, however. He also devotes a section of the book to prevention, including a grid designed to assist readers in determining which areas need immediate action. Ultimately, a brand may choose to undergo the rejuvenation process when signs of aging have set in, take preventative action as necessary or institute an anti-aging plan. Each of these approaches comes with their own costs and Lehu advises readers to choose the strategy best suited to their company’s needs and means.
Making the Right Choices
The book makes excellent use of tables and figures, but its most effective illustrations are the examples Lehu cites of how actual companies have dealt with the problem of brand aging. Lego, for example, despite being a "classic," found itself faltering in a market dominated by video games and other high-tech playthings. The introduction of robotic Lego sets, corporate restructuring and increased efforts to thwart imitators all helped to bolster the brand. He illustrates the problems Xerox suffered when its name became a generic term for "copy." He addresses the problems unique to upscale brands through the story of Prada’s introduction of the Miu Miu line.
Anecdotes about Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, Kmart, Toyota and others are carefully chosen to support the principles put forth in the book, proving that Brand Rejuvenation is as well-researched as it is well-crafted.
Why We Like This Book
Brand Rejuvenation goes beyond simply discussing the problem of brand aging, it provides practical, real-world advice for brand managers, makes excellent use of case studies and gives readers valuable tools to assist in keeping their brands vital. There is also a scorecard provided to evaluate the symptoms of a potential branding issue. Copyright © 2006 Soundview Executive Book Summaries