Lessons from Mentor Brands Success and Failures

Every brand can learn from the success stories of other brands in the marketplace. And there are lessons from brand failures. Both are important marketplace insights to help steer strategies. As mentioned in “A Checklist for Winning the Product Line Review,” mentor brands help you learn how to reinvent consumer perceptions and sales trajectories. Mentors help identify new boundaries for approaching marketing and remind you of the power of branding done right.

A common fallacy is that mentor brands need to be in your category. We’d encourage you to seek brands outside your market. There are universal truths across all brands that may be applied. For example, many brands reach a point in their lifecycle where they realize diminishing returns. It’s a frightening place and instinct may lead you to pull the plug and develop a new offering. First, look for a brand who faced and overcame a similar challenge. One brand SFW admires for changing the conversation is Old Spice.

Old Spice’s Glacial Falls sub-brand was the oldest in its 70-plus year portfolio. It was also the worst-performing in the entire deodorant category. But rather than pull it off the shelf, exposing space to competition and pressing R&D to develop a product that would do better, Old Spice turned to a marketing fix. Armed with deep category and customer insights, the brand changed the conversation, rebranding the scent as Swagger. The surrounding marketing campaign aligned to their target audience, answering their desired benefit hierarchy. Old Spice positioned the product beyond scent and portrayed it as the consummate confidence-builder. The result? The Glacial Falls product went from worst performing to top-three in short order. The halo effect helped bring new life and overall growth into the Old Spice brand as a whole.

The Lesson

The problem with dated brands and product lines may not be the product itself. It can simply be the way it’s marketed. Consumer insights can motivate successful rebranding and repositioning.

Whether facing a product line review for a new brand, a category leader or a worn-out brand, all brands should look to brands who faced analogous situations. Learn from those who did it right and apply those learnings with your marketing partners to optimize your success and save yourself the mistake of pulling a product that still has a lot of life left in it off the shelf.

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