What Is the Marketing Strategy of Brand Repositioning?

Jeremy Cook, Ashley Johns, Steven Scalia
  • Author
    Jeremy Cook

    Jeremy taught elementary school for 18 years in in the United States and in Switzerland. He has a Masters in Education from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He's taught grades 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8. His strength is in educational content writing and technology in the classroom

  • Instructor
    Ashley Johns

    Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

  • Expert Contributor
    Steven Scalia

    Steven completed a Graduate Degree is Chartered Accountancy at Concordia University. He has performed as Teacher's Assistant and Assistant Lecturer in University.

Learn about brand repositioning in marketing and understand its use and importance. See brand repositioning examples and how a brand repositioning strategy is used. Updated: 12/18/2021

What Is Brand Repositioning?

Most people can recall a brand or product that made a drastic change in the way the brand was presented, marketed, or promoted. The brand might have also changed the customer base or the socio-economic status of its product. When this happens, it's due to the company repositioning its brand in the market.

Brand repositioning is when a company changes the status of its brand in the marketplace. This generally occurs because the brand has lost customers or is no longer financially sound. It can also happen if the company feels like it can reposition its brand to attract a higher socio-economic consumer base.

Once a company makes the decision to reposition its brand, it needs to understand the parts of the marketing mix that will be essential to the reposition. Those parts are:

  • Price - Changing the price can change the view of the product. Most cases involve a downward change in pricing, but an upward change can happen in certain cases.
  • Place - Changing where the product is sold and promoted can bring in new customers and revenue. If a brand is only sold and marketed in a certain region, it could expand into new regions.
  • Product - A change in the product itself might be required. This is especially true for products that aren't keeping up with current technology trends.
  • Promotion - A company might need to change the way they promote their products. This is a very common strategy and is seen when the tone and content of advertising change dramatically. It can also include a logo or slogan change.

Importance of Brand Repositioning in Marketing

There are many reasons why a brand might need to be repositioned, and in a fast-paced world of trends, it's more important than ever. The following are some examples of reasons that impact repositioning decisions:

  • Product Sales - The sales of the product are going down and the company must take a hard look at the reasons for the decline.
  • Losing Consumers - The consumer base is shrinking due to age. This is a massive issue in the modern economy because companies are still concerned about older consumers, but the gap in what older people want and younger people want gets wider every year. But in this case, the older generation generally spends less and will shrink due to death.
  • Mixed Messaging - When the messaging of a product sends mixed signals, it can be confusing and turn consumers off. This can happen due to the changing of culture, but can also be a result of poor repositioning in the past.
  • Values - Outdated core values can lead to a product's poor performance. This also ties back to the age of the consumer base. Older generations tend to favor traditional values while younger consumers have progressive values. Today, not embracing LGBTQ, minority, and multi-cultural values can lead to poor sales.
  • Losing Younger Consumers - Alienation of the younger generations is a big problem for brands that have been around a long time. Younger generations desire very different product types, styles, messages, and value systems than older consumers; a company not repositioning its brand to suit younger consumers is bad for its business.
  • Negative Associations - Whether it's an environmental disaster, a greedy CEO, a sexual scandal, or the embracing of political extremism, when a brand alienates a large percentage of consumers it will most likely need to undergo a repositioning.

What is Brand Repositioning?

When a company sees a decrease in sales over time and/or major changes coming down the line, they know it is time to implement changes within the company. Brand repositioning is when a company changes a brand's status in the marketplace. This typically includes changes to the marketing mix, such as product, place, price and promotion. Repositioning is done to keep up with consumer wants and needs.

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Brand Repositioning Strategy

There are three general strategies for repositioning a brand that will help a company determine how it is going to change how the brand is viewed. Once a company decides on a strategy to reposition a brand, it needs to make a commitment of resources and time to ensure it's done right and is successful.

Consumer Engagement

Consumer engagement is all about making sure the reposition is something that the consumers want and will embrace. This strategy involves heavy use of consumer focus groups and surveys. When a consumer fills out a survey about a brand, they are contributing data that could be used to reposition the brand. It also involves understanding the brand's consumer base and anticipating what they want.

An example of a brand that repositioned itself using consumer engagement was Spotify. Spotify originally got most of its revenue from advertising, but consumers wanted a more curated and personal experience and got tired of dealing with ads. So Spotify moved to a subscription service that removed adds and added customizable features to its music curation based on customer feedback.

Identity

There are many facets to a brand's identity. Whether its associations are based on money, consumer base, or the health of the environment, a shift might be required if one of the facets isn't working anymore. This strategy often comes with an altering or changing of the brand slogan and/or logo.

Taco Bell is a great example of a brand that used this strategy to reposition itself. Taco Bell was once associated with cheap Mexican food that was edible and wouldn't cost a lot to eat. Their slogan was Yo Quiero Taco Bell, which means I want Taco Bell. When the brand started losing consumers they repositioned to a new identity by appealing to a young and progressive consumer base by making Taco Bell appear like more than just a fast food place. They even changed their slogan to Live Mas, which means live more.

Spirit of Giving

Some brands like Toms (shoes) and Bombas (socks) began as brands that gave a free product to the needy when a customer bought a pair of shoes or socks. Other brands don't have that kind of a reputation. The spirit of giving becomes a form of repositioning when a company shifts from being a brand that is either neutral or negatively associated with the community to one that is giving and involved. This strategy can work well if it is done in a sincere way.

Exxon-Mobile is an example of a company whose repositioning hasn't worked out as intended. It attempted to appeal to progressive and environmentally- friendly consumers by promoting the work it was doing to reduce fossil fuel use. But since the main product it sells is fossil fuels, the shift doesn't seem sincere.

What Makes Brand Repositioning Successful?

The way to assess the success of a brand reposition is to determine how much the customer flow has increased. If the main repositioning involves a price hike, the company might see a revenue increase. But if the customer flow isn't also increased, the reposition isn't necessarily successful. The following are things to consider when a brand repositioning is needed:

Complete Overhaul

For most people, the two words complete and overhaul is never a good thing to hear. A complete overhaul means starting from scratch. It means the same thing with regards to repositioning a brand and it can be just as scary. When a brand gets a complete overhaul it changes everything to the point that the brand looks almost nothing like the original brand. So why would a company want a complete overhaul of a brand? The reasons can range from a new company acquiring a brand to the product lines no longer being needed.

Strategies

To implement brand repositioning the company must choose a strategy. Each strategy determines where the main focus of the new campaign will be. The new campaign may focus on the consumer, other businesses or the general public. Let's review some available strategies.

  • Consumer engagement - People want to be involved with the brand. They want to feel like they belong. To make this happen, businesses have to work to customize the products to fit consumer needs. How can this be done? You have to get creative and figure out what people want. For example, ZinePak is a company that saw the decrease in music sales and took the opportunity to work with artists to change the way they communicate with super fans. The company does this through the creation of physical merchandise to pair with the artists' CDs. The company helps build brands through engaging consumers. It is a win-win.
  • Identity - The most important aspect of building a brand is to give the company an identity. The brand is tied together through the logo, slogan, color scheme, marketing materials, employees, etc. Everything about the company should tie together and provide a unified identity that the consumer can understand.
  • Spirit of giving - The world is starting to expect businesses to be socially responsible and embrace the spirit of giving. Social responsibility is an organization's obligation to better the welfare of society. To utilize this strategy the company can include its partnership with charities in its advertising.

What Makes Repositioning Successful?

Once a strategy is chosen, it is time to implement it. The brand repositioning is successful when the business sees steady or increased customer flow. This means the customer base has accepted the changes. Below are some factors that could be included to make a strategy successful.

  • Complete overhaul - To be successful a brand must confirm all the pieces work together. This includes changes made and any pieces that have remained the same, though there are typically very few pieces of the brand that remain the same. You are providing customers with a new vision and taking them along for the ride.
  • Investment - A company has to be willing to invest in the change. This involves preparation and an investment in the future of the company. If the planning is not in place, the change will not be effective.
  • Marketing changes - In addition to changing the look and feel of the company, you must change the strategy. The goal is to reconnect with the current audience and/or reach out to a new audience. Part of the complete overhaul is to adjust the way you reach the new audience. For example, you may need to reposition your marketing strategy from radio and television to social media if you want to reach a younger generation.

Examples

Let's take a look at a few companies who have practiced brand repositioning with differing results.

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Video Transcript

What is Brand Repositioning?

When a company sees a decrease in sales over time and/or major changes coming down the line, they know it is time to implement changes within the company. Brand repositioning is when a company changes a brand's status in the marketplace. This typically includes changes to the marketing mix, such as product, place, price and promotion. Repositioning is done to keep up with consumer wants and needs.

Strategies

To implement brand repositioning the company must choose a strategy. Each strategy determines where the main focus of the new campaign will be. The new campaign may focus on the consumer, other businesses or the general public. Let's review some available strategies.

  • Consumer engagement - People want to be involved with the brand. They want to feel like they belong. To make this happen, businesses have to work to customize the products to fit consumer needs. How can this be done? You have to get creative and figure out what people want. For example, ZinePak is a company that saw the decrease in music sales and took the opportunity to work with artists to change the way they communicate with super fans. The company does this through the creation of physical merchandise to pair with the artists' CDs. The company helps build brands through engaging consumers. It is a win-win.
  • Identity - The most important aspect of building a brand is to give the company an identity. The brand is tied together through the logo, slogan, color scheme, marketing materials, employees, etc. Everything about the company should tie together and provide a unified identity that the consumer can understand.
  • Spirit of giving - The world is starting to expect businesses to be socially responsible and embrace the spirit of giving. Social responsibility is an organization's obligation to better the welfare of society. To utilize this strategy the company can include its partnership with charities in its advertising.

What Makes Repositioning Successful?

Once a strategy is chosen, it is time to implement it. The brand repositioning is successful when the business sees steady or increased customer flow. This means the customer base has accepted the changes. Below are some factors that could be included to make a strategy successful.

  • Complete overhaul - To be successful a brand must confirm all the pieces work together. This includes changes made and any pieces that have remained the same, though there are typically very few pieces of the brand that remain the same. You are providing customers with a new vision and taking them along for the ride.
  • Investment - A company has to be willing to invest in the change. This involves preparation and an investment in the future of the company. If the planning is not in place, the change will not be effective.
  • Marketing changes - In addition to changing the look and feel of the company, you must change the strategy. The goal is to reconnect with the current audience and/or reach out to a new audience. Part of the complete overhaul is to adjust the way you reach the new audience. For example, you may need to reposition your marketing strategy from radio and television to social media if you want to reach a younger generation.

Examples

Let's take a look at a few companies who have practiced brand repositioning with differing results.

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Applying Brand Repositioning Techniques - An Essay Prompt:

The following Essay Prompt is designed to help you apply your knowledge of (1) Brand Repositioning Strategies and (2) their successful implementation.

Context:

You are the Chief Brand Officer (CBO) of Big Fossil Fuels Co., a company that specializes in the extraction of crude oil and natural gas. The rise in environmental activism regarding the extraction of fossil fuels has been increasingly impacting Big Fossil Fuels' operations. Last quarter, thousands of activists protested in front of the head office because Big Fossil Fuels refused to clean up an oil spill that, according to the President, was "not our problem but rather our machinery supplier's." The company faced further black lash last week when the federal government cited that "Big Fossil Fuels has a track record of one of the least environmentally responsible companies in the world." Since then, the stock price has plummeted since pension funds refused to hold their stock.

You are called into an emergency meeting by the President. "I need you to develop a strategy for Brand Repositioning. We cannot afford this scandal to damage our brand any longer, so I am counting on you. Please also give me some suggestions on how we can maximize our chances of making the Brand Repositioning strategy successful."

Required:

Write a minimum 150-word essay explaining (1) the Brand Repositioning strategy that you think would be best suited to the company and (2) at least 2 tips that will help the company maximize the success of its Brand Repositioning.

What is brand repositioning with examples?

Brand repositioning is when a company changes the status of a brand in the marketplace. An example of a brand reposition is when Gucci changed its clothing image and designs to gear its styles to younger generations and Instagrammers.

Why is brand repositioning needed?

Brand repositioning is when a company changes the status of its brand because of certain reasons that are affecting its success. Some of the reasons could be a loss of profits, a diminishing consumer base, not connecting with younger consumers, or overcoming a bad image.

What is brand repositioning strategy?

A brand repositioning strategy is when a company uses a certain strategy to try to reposition a brand. These strategies include performing a complete brand overhaul, making a significant investment, or devising a new marketing strategy.

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