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in part through garnering user feedback from social media, only survived a week after a torrent of criticism. “We’ve learned a lot in this process,” the company said. “And we did not go about this the right way. It wasn’t the right project at the right time for crowdsourcing.”


Getting it right The issue of rebranding is a vexed one. David Cameron is often credited with making the Conservatives electable again by ‘detoxifying the brand’. But the party had just lost three elections in a row, and faced little choice – change or die. A similar crisis precipitated perhaps the most dramatic rebrand of all: that of Czech car maker Skoda. A popular joke in the 1980s was: ‘Why


does a Skoda have a heated rear windscreen? To keep your hands warm when you push it’. Becoming the first brand of car to have a whole joke book dedicated to its perceived shortcomings is an achievement of sorts. But when your brand is shorthand for a pile of junk, then a rebrand becomes a necessity. In 1991, Skoda sold just 172,000 cars


worldwide, but then it was bought out by


perhaps the most brand-conscious of car makers – Volkswagen. VW quickly set about reinventing the Skoda brand with a series of campaigns designed to shift perceptions. Central to the success of the rebrand


– at least in the UK – was the use of humour. “You won’t believe it’s a Skoda. Honest.” Acknowledging the brand’s heritage and slyly undercutting it proved enormously successful. It didn’t hurt to play up the VW angle either, convincing many that they weren’t actually buying a Skoda, but a bargain VW. It worked. Skoda enjoyed a significant


rise in sales following the campaign and have continued to perform well since then – in 2010 they sold more than 750,000 cars. They have also continued to reinvent themselves, most notably with the recent campaign for the Fabia vRS, which ran the strapline ‘Made of meaner stuff’. It was dark and almost ‘sexy’ – certainly not the image of yesteryear. Rebranding is one thing, but building


a brand and keeping its profile high takes constant care and attention. In today’s global market, and with the proliferation of the internet, the challenge is even harder – not


US retailer Gap demonstrated the perils of ‘updating’ a classic… Its new logo only survived a week after a torrent of criticism


February/March 2012 businesslife.co 41





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