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Reboot a Sluggish Brand

Once market shares dwindles and revenue targets are missed year after year (despite category growth), it may be time to reboot a once-beloved brand.

First off, you need to decide if you genuinely want to reboot a brand.  Some people get so tethered to old ideas about the brand that there is resistance to rethink its meaning and potential. If you are serious about growth and see rebooting as the only path of salvation, read on.

Don’t burn too much time analyzing the predicament for the umpteenth time. Do not dwell on what drove the brand value down to ruin and the irrevocable equity damage. Remember, it’s time to transform, not inform.

Let’s just start with simply accepting a few facts. Can you agree with a few of the following suppositions?

Sales are down. Sales have been declining each year. New brands are dominating the leadership position in the category. Yet, your brand despite having a good name and decent recall in the market isn’t living up to its potential. Perhaps it is a problem with the product itself, maybe it’s a channel issue, perhaps it’s a sales issue. Maybe private label has usurped the category? Whatever the factors, do you accept the brand could be worth more than it is?

Did you identify with three or more of these factors in the above paragraph? If so, ask yourself if you (assuming you are in a position that owns the brand) are willing to grow new value for the brand by trying some radically different ways of being in the market and a few new possible business models, a huge shift from the losing situation to a potentially high-growth situation?

Yes, there may be some investment required. Yes, your resource and capabilities mix may need to altered. The good and bad news is the same: you might have to change everything.

Indeed, everything is subject to change, which also means you’ll have to phase out how you are currently in the market and take a risk to potentially grow the value of the brand exponentially.

Everything up to this point has been a psychological journey to free you and your team from the historical bias that the brand you plan to reboot needs to represent anything like it has in the past. From this point forward, you will enter the frontier of the future and create a new path.

Now you want to start by examining the stories and strategies of other brands that have utterly transformed across categories. How can an outfitter of serious outdoorsmen become a leading fashion brand for teens (Ambercrombie & Fitch), for example? Look at 10 or more brands that have made the leap. These stories will inspire your team throughout the process.

Michael Graber is the managing partner of the Southern Growth Studio, an innovation and strategic growth firm based in Memphis, TN and the author of Going Electric. Visit to learn more.

A proven record of success

We have led more than 250 successful engagements in transformation, innovation, insights, and strategies. We’ve worked with Fortune 100 corporations to small businesses, nonprofits of all sizes, military service branches, municipalities, and private equity groups. We’ve touched many sectors in 15+ years of running. Check out highlights from our portfolio and industries served here.