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From Fool to Cool: The Art of a Brand Refresh

It can be easy to get comfortable with the strategies, branding, and promotions that have always worked just fine. The phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may come to mind every time someone suggests putting time into a brand refresh or design makeover.  

But after a while, you may pop your head up and realize that your audience has changed, and you didn’t evolve with them. Your brand may seem outdated or obsolete, and it can be difficult to play catch-up. This need for a revamp may be internal or external – a company brand can need refreshing, or the industry can use refreshing. With a new branding or branding revamp gone right, it can affect the reputation of the entire industry, and shoot it into trendiness.  

Companies that stay on their toes and react to the changes of their audience can identify market holes and tap into them. This keeps your company agile, refreshed, and ready to jump on new trends and opportunities.  

Here are some companies that are working to stay ahead of the curve on their industries, branding, or offerings – and their work is paying off.  

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Photo Credit: Athletic Brewing

The brand that is making non-alcoholic beer cool: Athletic Brewing  

What the industry used to be:  

The non-alcoholic beer industry has never been the life of the party. A less popular alternative to standard alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic beer is what’s left in the fridge when everything else is sold out. The old slogan could have been “like beer, but worse”.  

On top of that, non-alcoholic beer has always been marketed as an alternative to alcoholic beer for people who struggle with addiction. That made the option less appealing for people who aren’t addicts. The product has been associated with alcoholism, which naturally has a negative connotation. Because of the product positioning as an option for those who can’t drink beer, that message overshadows any benefits of taste or coolness factors.  

How Athletic Brewing flipped it:  

Athletic Brewing shed the negative connotation of drinking NA beer by doing 3 things:  

REPOSITIONING THE PRODUCT AND IDENTIFYING A NEW MARKET THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM A NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER  

Athletic brewing isn’t saying ‘here’s the beer when you can’t drink beer anymore’. They are instead focusing on the health aspects of NA beer for athletes and the growing trend of alcohol moderation. They hone in on the idea that you can enjoy a few beers without it affecting your performance tomorrow, and that it’s ok to drink beer AND NA beer.   

By taking this angle, drinking NA beer now is associated with caring about your athletic performance and the trendy mindset of alcohol moderation, not addiction. By adding this positive connotation, people are more open to drink NA beer in public without any shame. 

CREATING A BRIGHT AND LOUD BRAND THAT REFLECTED THE CRAFT BEER MENTALITY  

The branding and can design stands out among other NA beers by looking young, colorful, and outdoorsy. When you drink Athletic, you look good doing it. The craft brew style can design will make people ask what you’re drinking and expect you to respond that it’s a local brewery in town.  

This design also reinforces that this beer is for young people, it’s for athletes, it’s for nature-lovers, it’s for people who love aesthetics. It puts the of the Non-Alcoholic aspect of the beer as second to a great-tasting and cute product. This opens up who would feel comfortable and ‘at home’ drinking Athletic Brewing beer.  

ATHLETE AMBASSADORS PROMOTE THE BEER  

Athletic brewing taps into the outdoor community with athlete ambassadors who put their support behind a guilt-free, post-workout beer. Young, fun influencers in the sports and outdoor industry that drink socially but also drink Athletic brewing when they don’t want to damage their training progress.  

They partner with the running app Strava for Athletic Brewing running groups and have famous runners that promote their products. Their other influencers are skiers, rock climbers, Spartans, and more.   

Athletic Brewing saw a boring industry and flipped it on its head to create an exciting, colorful brew that attracts a larger, more diverse audience.  

Gap expands its audience through Yeezy  

WHAT GAP IS:  

Gap has always been considered a safe, comfortable, simple clothing brand that doesn’t make many waves. Gap tends to cater to those who don’t want to make too much of a statement and want timeless pieces that are always at least partly in style. They are known for staples, simplistic pieces, and a ‘stay in the lines’ design.  

This is and will likely be a safe business decision as it comes to inventory that stays relevant. But Gap realized that if they want to reach a larger, younger, and more diverse audience, they’d want to call in reinforcements for a brand refresh. 

HOW GAP IS FLIPPING IT:  

Gap recently announced that they are partnering with Yeezy, a clothing line owned by Kanye West. The Yeezybrand that caters to a different audience of people that don’t need to feel safe with their style. Yeezy is known for stylish, risky, and slightly out-there lines that create new trends instead of reacting to them  

Through this partnership, they will reach a new audience, extend their offerings to include more fashion risks, and potentially update their reputation as a company that creates timeless designs as well as takes part in creating new trends.  

They are creating a mashup of the two brands with a line that connects the two ends of the spectrum – safe and risky, timeless and trendy. You can easily see that fusion with the branding of this line. YZY is placed over the Gap logo with a key difference: the logo is slightly lopsided, just enough to make you question it. The design is pretty on par with how we expect the line to look. Classic from afar, with surprising details that make you focus in and  think.   

This line will be available for children and adults in 2021, and future promotion will uncover more about what this partnership will look like.   

How can you refresh your brand?  

ANALYZE YOUR CURRENT STANDING  

Understand your current audience personas, long-term branding, brand values, reputation, product benefits, and core competency before you try to grow.   

By knowing what you’re not willing to sacrifice or walk away from off the bat with a brand refresh, you minimize the number of dead ends you could hit when brainstorming a new direction.  

IDENTIFY POTENTIAL AREAS FOR REPOSITIONING AND GROWTH  

Sometimes, as we’ve seen with the non-alcoholic beer industry, new markets develop over time. The fastest way to find those is to understand your current audience base, keep your head up, and react to possible opportunities.   

It’s crucial to keep your finger on the pulse of how people are reacting to your product. This involves social listening, paying attention to reviews of customers, and paying attention to PR or media attention, because while sometimes you identify a potential market, other times the new market uncovers you. Be reticent to when new audience personas involve themselves in your brand.  

CONSIDER PARTNERSHIPS  

If there is an audience you want to reach but you just don’t have a direct line to reaching them independently, try partnering with someone already immersed in that audience. This isn’t a strategy just for household names like Gap and Yeezy, this can be beneficial on the local level and small business level as well.   

CONSIDER A BRANDING REFRESH  

You can add a breath of fresh air into your brand without doing an entire branding overhaul. Similar to how Instagram, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft all regularly update their look, you can too. If your look feels a little rusty, a simple upgrade of your logo, copy, website, or visual assets can boost you back into relevancy. Yes, this is easier said than done, but sometimes updating your look is just what the doctor ordered to re-engage your original audience and intrigue a new one.   

No matter what the age of your brand is, it deserves to be shown in the best-possible light. Do you want to follow in the footsteps of companies that invigorated their reputation? If you need help creating a strong promotion strategy, reach out to our team! 

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