Business people, and marketers in particular, love to launch new brands. It is an exciting part of brand strategy, blending analysis and creativity, left & right brains, sheer hard work and inspiration Above all, it's is fun.
Yet unfortunately for us marketers, the last thing we usually need is more brands.
We've seen a couple of recent examples of this sound thinking from smart brand people:
This month NBCUniversal in the US rebrands G4 as Esquire Network. The significance of this is not that it’s a routine channel revamp with a new sexy name and/or identity. Instead, NBCUniversal have taken a brand that is already familiar to millions of us the world over. They are rebranding with an old brand, not a new one.
eanwhile, Rupert Murdoch announced last week that all News Corp entertainment interests will be brought under the umbrella of 21st Century Fox. It is a forward-facing move that uses branding to help add value to the business by simplifying the complex, and by focusing on the highest value part of the business - content.
Both these events are bold, strategic branding moves, but interestingly neither has resulted in a new brand. They are helping consumers and business partners choose them by employing familiar faces, attributes, personalities that most people already understand.
Compare this clear thinking and user-friendliness with the launch last year of Everything Everywhere (quickly changed to EE), the UK’s new and largest telecomms brand. Despite bringing together two of the most high profile telecoms properties – Orange and T-Mobile – they felt the need to launch a new brand, from scratch, because….? At this point it is worth reminding ourselves why we have brands at all. The quick answer is that they help companies to deliver their business strategies, and to make it easy for consumers to choose which product(s) are right for them.
It is also worth remembering that when you have multiple brands, they need to work clearly together. To the casual passer-by EE’s brand family has all the coherence and structure of a Sunday morning car boot sale. Spring is in the air. So in a twist to normal seasonal behaviour perhaps businesses should spend the traditional planting months working out what brands they can cull, and therefore enjoy the savings and growth potential which a smaller portfolio can provide.