Several times over the past few years a famous brand has mangled some of its most valuable equity, then rapidly cut bait before the fish could even bite.
Some well-known examples:
— Tropicana’s 2009 experiment with dropping the iconic straw-in-an-orange logo after only a few weeks on shelf – and after a 20% drop in sales and a serious $35 million investment.
— Gap flirted with a new logo for less than a week in 2010, tried to face down online crowd-rage, then reverted back to its also-iconic blue and white brand.
— The University of California (disclosure: my employer, but I had nothing to do with this) tried to replace its venerable logo with an odd “UC” graphic that has been unfavorably compared to everything but higher education. It lasted just long enough for bloggers to blare “Power to the people!”.
— Most recently, the makers of Maker’s Mark decided to dilute their product so they could make more. Now, that’s a great way to make a mark. They undecided shortly thereafter.
Why are all these mistakes happening? Most likely because marketers continue to believe that research is an expense. It is, in fact, a mandatory investment whose costs is miniscule compared to the financial and equity costs of launching, then pulling back, a bad idea.
Maybe we need a new course in biz school: “Strategic Marketing Withdrawals: meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, unless Thursdays are withdrawn from lack of interest.”