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5 Obstacles to a Successful Rebrand that Nobody Talks About

How many times has your company rebranded? Even if you answer, “Just once,” we’re guessing that felt like one time too many. And what was it all for? Were you able to achieve your goals? This may be hard to believe even now, but most people still mean redecorating when they say rebranding. They are talking about iterative packaging changes, new logos, and advertising campaigns. No wonder rebrands fall short.

We have identified the most common but usually unspoken circumstances that stand in the way of effectively and predictably changing your company’s market position via rebranding.

This white paper discusses strategies to manage leadership and team expectations, sacred cows, and data. These insights, along with our practical how-to response for each obstacle, will enable you to perform some organizational jujitsu, the real reason to embark on rebranding.

Most people think of creative translation issues when they think of rebranding failure. The reality is that the most common obstacles to a successful rebranding are further up funnel, during brand strategy development. And frankly they are further up the management ladder. That is, unless your definition for rebranding is really just redecorating. A true rebranding gets into the why, the how, and the what behind your brand. It’s not just skin deep and definitely not for the faint of heart.

Here are the obstacles no one seems to be talking about. Identifying and planning for these unspoken hurdles will increase the likelihood of succeeding.

Leadership Dynamics

When leadership sees branding as a marketing objective rather than a business objective, their lack of engagement is a hurdle to the rest of their team. When this occurs, it is typically due to an old-school mentality with an inaccurate understand of what branding means.

Another surprisingly common problem happens when not everyone participates in the brand development meetings. These invisible influencers from adjacent functional silos in your company probably don’t intentionally set out to throw off your attempts to use branding as a driver to create meaningful change within the business. Regardless of why they’re not there — whether you skipped them on the meeting invites or they’ve skipped thinking that all you’re going to do is sit around and talk about the artwork and back of pack copywriting  — your brand has an enrollment challenge.

When leadership at any level within your organization rejects new ideas without consideration or dialogue, your likelihood of success is greatly diminished.

The Retail Voodoo Way to align leadership during the rebrand:
We require the key leadership of your brand to participate in every strategy session, complete the exercises, and voice their opinion within the context of the group assignment. We understand business (not just design) and have a bedside manner that will connect with your team at all levels.

Team Dysfunction

When companies are siloed and view each other as obstacles rather than allies, there is a persistent level of infighting and disagreement. Before you can manage the changes necessary to create meaningful change, it is important to get everyone on the same page. People inside an organization that is a prime candidate for rebranding often have conflicting agendas born out of frustration, team performance issues, and frankly a fear of losing their job. Before you know it, people translate this to mean that they need to fear compromise because the internal culture has silently declared it a sign of weakness. The root of this internal bias, whether real or implied, is the false belief that collaboration is the same as compromise.

The Retail Voodoo Way to enroll your team in the rebrand:
We use blind surveys for all key stakeholders in order to get everyone in the organization literally on the same page. This builds bridges and overcomes personal agendas quickly.

Misaligned Expectations

Clarity is tough. All companies are impacted by relationship dynamics. Just like in life, when people don’t talk about it they create unrealistic expectations around timing and costs. And these become the barriers to rejuvenation that the organization was likely seeking through the process of rebranding.

Once the company decides that rebranding makes the most sense, it’s natural for those involved in ensuring the rebrand “sticks” to want everything to happen all at once. Then it becomes even more natural to skip a holistic plan because it needs to involve everyone in leadership – and leaders can be impatient, high concept thinkers who don’t want the minutia (except for when they do).

Lack of alignment around the time and cost implications of rebranding stems from the C-suite spreads throughout the organization. If your leadership sees rebranding as a new logo and maybe a packaging refresh, then they are likely to ask the marketing team to make critical changes without addressing the financial implications beyond the short-term marketing tactics required. Plan for 2 years of marketing and operational implications based upon a rebrand. And then add 50% of the budget and timeline for implementation.

The Retail Voodoo Way to align expectations:
Prior to embarking on the rebranding journey, work with your team to establish how you will program and finance any operational changes needed to deliver on innovation, positioning pivots, and product portfolio alignment. Our philosophy is talk it out early and often. It’s your job to budget dollars and time, but we can help plan.

Outdated Brand Equities

A product legacy has run its course and needs to be cancelled. But this is terrifying for everyone in the company if the product in question is all that the company has ever sold (or it’s the original or it’s the namesake). At Retail Voodoo, we call these outdated brand equites “sacred cows”.

Better-for-you food and beverage has become a new buzzword in the face of fast-paced evolution of consumer preferences (not to mention a playground for private equity), more single product brands, specialized ingredient-focused brands, and specialty processing brands have seen their once sustainable and market-leading position erode rapidly.

Moving away from a sacred cow is tough when you don’t see it. When your core product equity has a brand liability, and the organization responds to changing anything with phrases like, “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” you may be in for a steeper climb than you originally thought.

The Retail Voodoo Way to identify, remove, and retire your brand’s core liabilities:
Innovation and differentiation require new thinking. If it were easy, everyone would be a market-leading brand.

First, we assess your culture through research and key personnel interviews and look for your company’s appetite for change before making any recommendations. Then we will identify your brand’s core liabilities, and use data to illuminate future possibilities that cross reference your brand’s past and present.

Misinterpreted Data

When your brand believes that your employees are your best customers, your team may become prone to make strategic assumptions based off internal consensus and call it data. This confirmation bias allows your brand to make up its own rules and innovate products that only you and your employees would use. When your employees and key stakeholders insist that they are your brand’s best customers, watch out – you have three years to change this before your position in the marketplace erodes.

The Retail Voodoo Way to data interpretation:
Employee and management opinions matter, they just aren’t data. To start, you need external data. We will bring in experts who specialize in authoring the right kind of survey for your brand’s unique situation. And help you curate which the off the shelf, syndicated data (like PEW, Mintel, Neilson, and a host of others) makes the best investment for your brand. Next, we question and then synthesize data into actionable insights that map to a brand strategy before sharing it out with the entire team.

Leaders, teams, expectations, sacred cows, and data. Holy hand grenades! It’s enough to send any marketer over the edge. But don’t go there. Take heart and give yourself a moment. Rebranding requires a level head, a strong spirit, guts, and some organizational jujitsu. If you are considering a rebrand and have exhausted all other, lesser involved avenues to affect change, give us a call.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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Top 5 Marketing Regrets After Rebranding

In the hands of the right CEO, CMO, and marketing team a rebrand becomes a powerful tool. But rebrands are tough. Rebrands frequently fail to generate results. Rebranding sucks. So why do it? Well, fortune, fame, and glory all lie in the balance, right?

Rebranding has produced persistent frustrations … This white paper answers your most pressing question: “How do I make my efforts at rebranding not suck?” So if you’re sure you want to go through with it, we have the answers you’re looking for.

Learn not only when and why to rebrand (and when not to rebrand) but discover the common regrets marketers have after spending an entire year rebranding their whole company and not getting the results they need.

Rebranding is a powerful but tricky landscape to navigate. The goals of a rebrand should be organizational clarity, deeper audience engagement, upgraded channel strategy, employee engagement and retention, and, of course, sales.

Many of our clients come to us as a newer employee at an inspiring brand who has been tasked with “fixing” the brand — frequently on the coattails of a rebrand with their previous employer. (It’s partly why they got the job, right?) They have had various levels of success with that rebrand, but are generally frustrated and dissatisfied with the overall process and its outcomes. There is a shared set of common, post-rebrand regrets.

Top Marketing Regrets After Rebranding

1. Changing for the wrong reasons

Given the time and cost associated with the rebranding, you would think that most people would only undertake it when their brand is outdated, broken or has been disrupted. However, difficult as it may be to believe, boredom with the brand is an all too common reason many companies decide to make changes.

Common symptoms: A serial C-suite guru recently moved into the corner office and wants a rebrand on their resume. Not everyone across the business is aware that change is imminent because the case for change was not used to bring people along before implementing the rebrand. When the new brand appears, people are scratching their heads, thinking its just another new logo and the only impact it has for them is that they will likely get a new tee shirt.

How to avoid rebranding for the wrong reasons: Find out what the business problems are before you decide a brand change is the answer. If the brand isn’t broken and there appears to be no real opportunity to disrupt and therefore take the lead in the category, do something to affect the business besides rebranding.

2. Lack of team alignment

Alignment requires ecosystems thinking. When you don‘t get enough of the right people in the room at the same time, buy-in may not be possible. It cannot be done if you opt to stay safe and snuggly inside the silo of marketing. Don’t get me wrong, working within the discipline of marketing is key, in fact, the marketing department should drive the project. But if you only involve the marketing team in the rebrand, you are setting yourself up for internal conflict. No matter how good you are, after the grand unveiling of all the hard work, your management and sales teams will come to you with details you did not consider — things that may not have crossed your mind to consider.

Common symptoms: It’s a new day, but you struggle with the same marketing problems. Sales team (and other internal teams) are not buying into the new brand because they either don’t understand it, don’t agree with it or the process of rebranding has alienated them along the way. As a result, your company’s executives are not only not promoting the rebrand but distancing themselves from it.

How to avoid lack of alignment: Rebranding requires that your company’s leadership participate both psychologically and strategically. Without their direct involvement, you cannot get deep enough into the realities facing the business to affect change. And you need their hammer. You need someone to bang the gavel and declare it so. Bring in key stakeholders from cross-functional disciplines within your organization and ask them to commit to taking the journey together.

3. Unactionable insights and strategies

Most marketers assume that creative implementation will be the biggest hurdle of a rebrand. They fail to identify and properly prepare for other hurdles along the way. A rebrand goes way beyond the marketing budget and an OOH (Out-of-home) campaign. When done well, a rebrand should provide actionable changes throughout the entire business that will improve your company’s ability to clearly make promises and then provide simple, actionable insight into how your brand should go about keeping them.

Common Symptoms: The rebrand requires a media spend and takeovers that your board will never approve, which makes the rebrand feel like just another advertising campaign to grab short-term attention for your brand. So that 500-page PDF which highlights the rebrand never gets opened by anyone but you and your agency. Other department heads and people within the organization who are familiar with the perils of rebranding don’t want to discuss your project because they working hard not to say, “I told you so”.

How to avoid unactionable insights and strategies: At the outset, establish a two-year timetable and budget for your rebrand to make sure you don’t get stuck with pie-in-the-sky thinking and no time or funds to implement it. No matter how savvy the team, there will always be that anniversary package that nobody is even thinking about yet, and updating all of your brand’s digital properties requires a matrix the size of Canada. Before you embark, manage everyone’s expectations by letting them know that it’s a long process.

4. Underestimating the pace of competition

Your rebrand is all about connecting with new audiences and finding sustainable growth opportunities. It sounds simple, but many feel the pressure to move quickly because the pace of change is exponential. It’s too easy to forget that while your team is mid-stream on a big rebranding project, your competitors are likely in the process of optimizing, refining or reinventing their brand. So you go black-ops and focus on the category leaders without considering challenger’s brands and product offerings in adjacent categories.

Common symptoms: Your brand sounds just like your competition. When you go shopping, you see 12 brands doing what your team thought would be unique. You begin to see that your brand‘s innovation pipeline is driven by feature and benefits and mostly knockoffs of other brands

How to avoid underestimating the pace of competition: You need to know the value proposition of your competitors and assess whether they successfully represent their company’s values and offerings. In order to compare your brand to competitors, you will need to conduct a comprehensive brand audit. Armed with the insights you gather here and a values-based approach, you will be far more attuned to what everyone is doing and therefore more likely to make your brand different.

5. Focusing only on visual change

Some people believe that rebranding is really just choosing a new name, new logo, or a new corporate identity. The problem with staying skin deep during a rebrand is that it’s just too easy to ignore changing consumer preferences, new competitors, and new human truths. These three drivers should be the impetus behind your decision to undergo a rebrand.

When a rebrand focuses purely on visual change it creates a risk that is often unintended. You may lose people who love your current brand because a visual approach is a beauty contest. And beauty, for all its juiciness, cannot fathom the depths of emotional attachment nor see the variety of ways that emotion, loyalty, and belonging play out in brand narratives and throughout your entire marketing ecosystem.

Common Symptoms: The new look tested really well but failed to create velocity. And your brand’s social media channels are filled with consumer backlash — people rant about the change. In the face of pushback, the rationale for the creative is no longer meaningful.

How to avoid focusing only on visual change: Take the time to understand the ways in which consumer preferences have shifted and what, if any, implications those shifts have on your brand’s positioning in consumers’ minds. Failure to dig deep enough into the human truths driving the change will increase the likelihood of failure.

Rebranding is a business focused, marketing-led response to external forces — not a re-decorating project

Rebranding is about changing the trajectory of your business. The life and death of your brand may hang in the balance. So don’t do it unless the industry, your company’s reputation, changing consumer preferences, or competition has caused the ground underfoot to shift.

Once you determine a rebrand is in order to stay viable, grow, and lead, approach it like you would having brain surgery. Go to someone you know is committed to not only keeping you alive but also to make sure that you are a badass when you wake up.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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6 Ways Agencies Fail Food & Beverage Brands

As the food and beverage category continues to hone in on the importance of natural brands across all channels, getting investors is no longer the challenge — because better-for-you brands are driving category growth and, consequently, private equity investment in food outpaces all other categories. The pace of change in the last three years has outstripped even the staggering changes of the previous decade. Natural and better-for-you brands have moved beyond the realm of Whole Foods and made Costco and Walmart the biggest retail buyers of organic products.

The game has changed; investment opportunities appear to be falling from the sky for anyone with a clean ingredient deck and a crumb of a brand story.

But we have spent the better part of the last decade deep in the boardrooms, farms, and factories with some of the well-respected players who have driven this change, and we have some potentially bad news. If you have invested in rebranding within the last three years and are not experiencing the growth you expected, your agency may have failed you. This white paper explores six unexpected ways in which we have seen the agency drive the naturals brand off the proverbial cliff.

1. Sanitizing the truth about your brand. When the creative agency doesn’t take the time to learn, analyze, and ultimately challenge the category conventions or the closed-loop thinking of the founder-owner, the company’s culture, product offering, and vision, they inadvertently default to cool and clever tactics. Without mind-melding over the real pain points (or legitimate white space innovation), any creative outreach is more likely to be slick and not grounded in business strategy. And — because they are moving quickly — they tell the brand owners what they want to hear instead of the sometimes deeply blemished truth in order to get the creative ideas approved. The result is unownable beauty.

Need proof? Flip over any better-for-you packaged food and read an origin story that sounds like this.

“I had this challenge/pain point and so I made a company. Insert clever/humorous/witty tone to cover up the lack of depth in the origin story and add sizzle.”

– The Earnest Founder

2. Faking the category audit. Was your category audit insightful or did your agency merely check the box? The most common complaint we hear from brand owners, particularly in the naturals space, is that their category audit was too sterile and looked like something an intern could have produced using Google in an afternoon.A meaningful category audit must include the sometimes-ugly reality of retail. At a minimum, this means that the category audit should showcase lighting conditions, shelf restrictions, and key adjacencies from multiple locations. This along with analysis of your channel strategy is important if your category audit is to show you both potential threats and budding opportunities for your brand.

3. Claiming social media engagement will get you trial and velocity. Many agencies are still telling clients that likes and mentions will drive sales. And perhaps while the meter is running on that vegan snack fitness influencer contract there is some traction. We have seen it time and again — when that contract ends, the likes go away; the brand is forced to resort to buying likes with coupons and promo codes. Product efficacy, a contrarian point-of-view, and transparency to back up any claims of authenticity go further than any celebrity endorsement. And while we won’t discount the growth opportunities of influencer marketing, defaulting to this single tactic won’t get you the velocities you’re looking for. Bottom line, your marketing strategy needs to be multi-faceted.

4. Calling star-power strategic branding. Using celebrities can be a powerful endorsement for your brand, particularly when they fit the positioning of your brand ethos. We have seen the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Kobe Bryant and many others assist with a brands growth potential. However, branded products and famous people in ads only works for a few minutes. Once you stop paying endorsements, your brand disappears. You also do not have control over that person’s personal life. You can look to Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong to see what sort of collateral damage a celebrity can have on your brand. Unless you are a multi-national, we suggest you spend your marketing dollars elsewhere.

5. Assuming your consumer speaks your brand’s language. Marketing or advertising filled with insider jargon, certification claims, and tons of “us” vs. “them” verbiage emphasizes the negatives instead of the lifestyle associated with the brand. These tactics won’t grow a brand, increase its sphere of influence (among people, not influencers), nor get into a new customer’s consideration set. This approach automatically assumes that your consumer-to-be speaks your language. In extreme instances, we have seen this create a retail environment where the front-line employees have been poisoned by the marketing team to think unflatteringly about customers. The right way is to use brand strategy to decide why your brand exists in the world and who you can help because of it. Once clear on your brand’s purpose, the act of profiling your audience moves from merely demographic and leans into ambition, hope, human tendencies, and inspiration. We all want to believe we are working toward becoming a better version of ourselves. Brands, when they consider real people to be worthy of them, help us get on and stay on the path.

6. Using squishy strategy so the creative team isn’t fenced in. The agency creates a strategy, the client signs off, and then… the creative team comes up with a cooler idea. So the agency is forced to change the strategy to match the creative concept. Abraham Lincoln once asked, “How many legs does a dog have if you count the tail?” He answered, “Four. Calling the tail a leg does not make it a leg.” Killer creative ideas are not brand strategy. Killer creative’s intent is to get people’s attention so that they notice (and buy) your brand. Brand strategy’s intent is to evolve the company, its culture, offerings, sales opportunities, and ultimately its contribution to society in order to grow a large tribe of believers both inside and outside the company. A case in point: In our work with Essentia Water, we inherited a brand strategy that was clearly designed to produce adverts filled with blonde women in white yoga pants sitting on the beach (despite the fact that the data pointed to a racially diverse audience focused on being active in radically diverse ways). After scrapping that strategy and building one from the ground up, says this brand is on fire.

Consumers’ needs, competition, marketplace, and channels all change. Which means positioning needs to be refined or overhauled every once in a while to make sure your brand stays relevant.

We recommend that each brand that we work with establishes a scheduled audit and tune-up at a minimum of five-year increments — unless something significant has happened with your market or something is NOT working. Obviously, if your brand is losing share, don’t wait five years to make a change. But you should also be aware that a brand strategy driven rebound takes take 12-24 months before you can sit back and know with confidence that you have nailed it.

If you have gone through a rebrand in the last 18-24 months and aren’t realizing growth, I suggest a reality check that begins with the following questions before blaming your current agency.

  1. Is your internal team truly following the new strategy or have you tweaked it to make yourselves more comfortable?
  2. Did your strategy produce an innovation pipeline that has retail buyers looking to your brand for what is next in the category?

If after careful reflection you feel like your agency has failed you, or it’s time for a tune-up, it may be time for Retail Voodoo.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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Change is Hard. These Seven Tactics Make it Easier to Manage

“Things change.” “Change is good.” “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Platitudes about change abound, but here’s one thing you won’t see on a motivational poster backed by a scenic mountain photo: Change is hard.

It’s supposed to be. Change is risky, scary, inconvenient, messy. And we see it all, up close. Food and wellness brands come to us when they’re on the brink of change or in the thick of it — change that they haven’t anticipated and don’t necessarily want, often brought on by rapidly shifting consumer preferences and a turbulent retail landscape.

The changes we facilitate tend to be monumental — not a packaging tweak but a holistic repositioning or refocused brand strategy. And sometimes they’re painful, as we discovered when one of our recent clients came to us because they were floundering after a rebrand/renaming. Based on our consumer data that showed that customers still knew the brand by its original name, we recommended that the company return to that name. It was a real leadership moment: The CEO had to step up, own the mistake, and be the bright light shining through the chaos.

So let’s say you’re the wolf: You’ve been tasked with instigating or managing a seismic shift in your organization. Maybe there’s been a management shakeup, or the CEO may be looking to sell. Maybe you once led the category but you haven’t kept up with consumers’ wants and whims and you’ve lost share. Maybe a new competitor is chewing up the category. Whatever’s sparking the change, you’re expected to guide the team through it.

Take a deep breath and ready yourself with these tactics we’ve gathered from helping our clients deal with change wisely and well:

1. Acknowledge the fear. Understand the psychology of what you’re about to do and don’t dismiss your team’s fears. If change is challenging for you, it’s likely more so for others in the organization, who feel powerless and worry that their comfortable routines will be turned upside-down. Listen and share frequently and strategically; gather input and buy-in along the way. But don’t unveil the finished work until it’s ready for prime time.

2. Expect resistance. From all quarters: long-term employees who are happy with how things have been done forever, finance & operations people who are charged with getting results, marketing staffers who know the biggest impact will be on their department. Know that the sales team will be early and vocal objectors — they’ve been successfully selling the product for years, and they’ll object to changing their pitch. But they’ll also be the fastest adopters once they “get” the vision.

3. Start with strategy. A strong strategic foundation — one that addresses consumer trends, acknowledges market realities, and drives business growth — gives the team confidence and common ground. Strategy becomes a toolbox that guides everyone — from the CEO to the front desk receptionist — on how to behave in their role to contribute to the brand’s success.

4. Enlist advocates. Creating a solid group of key stakeholders at the outset gives you an internal leadership team that co-authors the brand and becomes your ally when it comes time to strategically leak news. Encourage your advocates to share their personal experiences as insiders involved in the process along with information about how the project is unfolding and what’s to come.

5. But know that not everyone will get on board. In fact, we request that HR management is part of any rebranding or repositioning project we’re involved with because there’s always a training/coaching component to change. And staffers who resist and fight their way through the strategy development process may need to be asked to leave before they poison the well. Ask your HR partner for help identifying potential resisters and getting them on track or out the door.

6. Make it feel special. Tap your internal advocates to help build a sense that the change represents an opportunity to further a brand they’re passionate about. Connect this initiative to the brand’s greater purpose. Celebrate milestones and create momentum to fuel excitement.

7. Use language to gain buy-in. Reality exists in language. Having the brand strategy and talking points that answer questions will be key to calming your team’s nerves. We use language to teach the teams we work with how to describe their products and why they exist in the world. This is especially crucial for the sales team: Unless they buy in, they’ll never be able to make a presentation about the product.

Change can be humbling — it means admitting that what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore, that your competitors are moving faster than you are. Or that you’re just flat-out wrong. That’s a real test for company leaders.

Done well, change can be a catalyst not for fear and internal squabbling, but for collaboration, growth, and rededication to the cause. The objective is not comfortable complacency, but transformational business success. On the other side awaits greater clarity, sharpened vision, and teams that are aligned with the vision and confident in moving forward.

Change ain’t easy. That’s why it’s essential. And when you’re ready, we’re here to help.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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Remaking a Beloved Brand: How to Keep Your Loyalists and Hook New Fans

Renovating an existing brand is never easy. But when you’re overhauling a beloved brand with passionate employees and diehard customers, it’s painful. Really painful.

You can’t alienate your loyal buyers — and risk a dip in sales — in the chase for a broader audience. Nor can you alienate your internal supporters, those who’ve been with the company from the beginning and carry the brand’s DNA. With both groups, the devotion that makes them fierce allies also makes them speed bumps for change. (And as we’ve explored, business change ain’t easy.)

So why endure the agony? Because not doing anything means the death of the brand. These are the two most common prompts we see for this type of rebrand:

  1. You’re seeing some erosion in marketplace relevance: a dip in sales, a disruptive competitor. You’ve gone from being the must-buy to being seen as outdated in your category.
  2. You’ve got new leadership (perhaps that’s even you) tasked with a business turnaround. You have to get traction and prove to your retail partners that the change will make a difference, and the fastest way to telegraph that is a rebrand.

The path forward in redefining your brand already exists: Use data to scrub away the BS that’s clouding your judgment. We’ll show you how that’s possible based on the work we did with two beloved brands.

Renovating a Flagging Sub-Brand

Russell Stover was the first company to make sugar-free chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate. Then Hershey entered the game and gobbled up a big chunk of the market. Management couldn’t understand why the brand wasn’t growing at a time when shoppers were becoming more health-conscious.

Consumer data gave us three key insights: First, those sugar-free buyers were reluctant buyers. They were consuming sugar-free products because they had to, primarily to manage diabetes. Two, the product formulation contained an artificial sweetener, which gave consumers pause. And three, the brand’s visual language felt unsophisticated, almost medicinal. The packaging misrepresented the “tastes like real chocolate” attribute, making the product look like a deprivation instead of a treat. And the ingredients misaligned with the expectation of the “better for you” consumer seeking not just a lower-calorie product but also one without artificial sweetener.

Our recommendations: Reformulate and redesign. We recaptured the Russell Stover brand’s heritage of great taste, appealing to chocolate lovers who need to reduce their sugar intake rather than chasing better-for-you buyers.

The lesson here? The trend you think you can leverage — in this case, the BFY trend — may be what’s killing you, and you can’t use sleight-of-hand or advertising to trick the consumer. We took the liability and turned it into an asset: Don’t sell the low sugar; sell the real chocolate taste.

Backfilling Aging Loyalists

REI built a following among avid outdoor enthusiasts who geek out over the technical specs of their hiking packs and climbing gear. But REI hit more than just a speed bump. Their problem was twofold: First, many of those early REI adopters were getting older and no longer participating in their sports as frequently or at the same high level. More important, though, newbies were put off by what the die-hards loved: the technical, geeky nature of the brand’s retail experience and messaging.

We used external research and competitive profiling to overcome a longstanding set of internal strategic assumptions that existed because employees believed their customers were just like them. (We call this the Brand Credibility Paradox.) We leveraged REI’s membership data and other market intel to show them that their core audience was aging and that their longstanding messaging was not resonating with a new generation.

So we transformed REI’s messaging, moving away from technical aspects and product performance and focusing instead on the experience of being in the great outdoors. This approach appeals to both old-timers who have a romantic association with their sport and to millennials who dream of an active outdoor lifestyle.

The lesson here? What has made your brand a magnet for longtime fans (and for your employees, too) may just be the attribute that alienates your next generation of customers.

Brands have the power to create a small tribe that no competitor can reach, but eventually, you’ll wind up only talking amongst yourselves. To grow — and we assume that’s why you’re here — you have to tap into the thing that the loyalists love about your brand and amplify it so others hear the call.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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Guiding Growth for a Passion Brand

We’ve seen it so often it’s become a cliché: The veteran marketer, disillusioned by the lack of opportunity for career growth in a big CPG company, jumps to an emerging food or wellness brand. She’s inspired by the founder’s passion and excited to bring her expertise to the table.

And then a few weeks into the job, she realizes that things aren’t … well … as she expected they’d be.

The founder/owner’s drive, passion, and ability to move quickly and on the cheap works great until about $5mm, and then it gets in the way. The brand is ripe for growth, yet the team is hesitant to let go of what brought them this far. And while there’s tons of opportunity for new revenue, the owner doesn’t want to be seen as chasing big bucks.

Sound familiar?

If you’ve come from a big marketing engine to help a fledgling brand grow, you’ll likely find that most of what you know isn’t going to work for your new boss. And until he recognizes that you truly get his vision and share his passion, he’ll resist — or even fear — your expertise.

Over years of working with CMOs in the exact spot you’re in, we’ve devised a number of strategies that can help you get your job done in a way that makes a meaningful difference for your brand. Let us show you the way:

Recognize that your No. 1 job isn’t marketing. It’s talking the founder/owner off the ledge. Convincing her that business success does not come at the expense of personal reputation or brand history.

Understand that it’s not business, it’s personal. The brand’s biggest hurdle is the founder’s emotional relationship with it. He looks back with nostalgia to the good old days. Fear lies at the core of the problem: The founder fears that the origin story will be overwritten, and that success will make him look like a sellout.

The founder’s deep attachments affect everything from the color used on a logo to the proper use of the office coffee maker. These preferences may appear irrational, but they’re seated in the owner’s blood, sweat, and tears.

Be an archaeologist. Your first task is to understand the brand’s history so that when you make a recommendation it’s steeped in that history. Dig deep, find every bone in the dirt and bring it to the surface, ask tons of questions. This process of excavation should take three to four months.

And a psychologist. Founders are passionate, entrepreneurial, driven people who are great at invention. But when it comes to maturing a brand or facing a growth challenge, they often make decisions based on personal biases. As the new CMO, you’ll find yourself in the role of therapist as your boss transitions the brand into something different. She’ll be learning to trust others, let go of the past, and with your guidance, develop a new ideal for the brand she started.

Listen reflectively. In every meeting with the owner, every casual conversation, repeat what he says — not to be a parrot but to clarify, learn, and check your assumptions.

Practice tough love. This where your best negotiating/politicking skills will come into play. Whether you do the work internally or hire an external firm, you’ll be in the middle of the relationship, as the founder who has hired you to grow or salvage the company will be intimately involved in each conversation and decision.

Take it slow. Resist the urge to solve the problem immediately. What might make you look like a superhero will feel threatening to the founder. If it’s that easy to right the ship, he’ll feel incompetent for not having done it himself.

If you find yourself in this position, know that you’re not alone: So many CMOs that have landed with passion-driven food and wellness brands have been here, too — and we’ve worked with a lot of them. You’re in for an up-and-down ride. And your biggest challenge may be ahead because you’ll soon start to lose some of the objectivity that made you such a great hire.

Need help? Need to vent? Give us a call.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
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7 Questions Passion Brands Should Ask Before Investing in a Rebrand

Rebrands are expensive and can be well worth the effort. But marketing leaders only look at 1-2 indexes to determine the optimal timing and core components that should be in place to increase the likelihood of success.

This white paper (pink paper) breaks it all down to seven critical questions that need to be answered affirmatively in order for rebranding to move forward. When brands have these questions clearly answered, their rebranding efforts will be more than skin deep. Retail buyers are more likely to get behind a brand with a deep, resonant story over those that are merely skin deep design. And products will move off the shelf without deep discounting or any other sales and marketing ploys.

1) Does my sales team have a compelling brand story that opens doors and wins shelf space?

When a brand doesn’t have a clear and compelling point of difference in the marketplace, they often rely on charismatic founders and/or salespeople to make the sale or succumb to an overly aggressive high-low pricing strategy. This is limiting when your brand is a seen by the consumer, and therefore the buyer, as an “also-ran brand”.

2) Have we conducted an exhaustive competitive audit of multiple markets?

This will help you overcome the obstacle in question 1 as well as offer a reality check. Most people think their brand is more unique and uniquely positioned than it is. A category audit with boots-on-the-ground is the cure.

3) Have we performed a SWOT analysis on our own internal culture to assess our appetite for change?

If it looks like your team is too far out of alignment to manage change, we suggest looking for the typical suspects: conflicting agendas that fall within functional silos and out-of-touch benevolent dictators. The evidence looks like infighting, high turnover, and low employee satisfaction.

4) Do we have a comprehensive map of our existing consumers and an objective, data-driven overlay for future consumers?

Many passion brands attract employees who are dedicated to the lifestyle the brand projects. This is the most common reason the company’s untested opinions and assumptions become perceived as data. It’s easy to assume that your target audience is just like you. The problem with this sort of closed-loop thinking is that without research and an outside perspective you will tend to believe your ideas are in alignment with the marketplace needs. The first step is admitting that opinions are not data.

5) Does our brand currently own an emotional territory that no other brand in our category owns?

Brand lives in the heart and mind as a collection of feelings or emotions based upon a promise your company made and the manner in which your collective team kept said promise. If you are trying to build brand story out of product features and benefits, you are likely a commodity, not a brand.

6) Is our mission clear, concise, actionable and measurable?

Many mission statements feel like the product of a committee, watered-down, inoffensive and in-actionable corporate babble. And long… if every last one of your employees can’t remember your mission without a prompt, then it needs to be refreshed. We believe in the power of language and that a simple, memorable, measurable mission is the only way to get and keep your team, well, on mission. To test this theory, go ask the first three employees you find to recite your brand’s mission statement. How’d that go? Did they get it right? Did they struggle?

7) Is innovation part of our brand’s culture?

If your team is in the business of repackaging your core offering multiple ways, I have some bad news. That isn’t innovation. Meaningful brand-building innovation stems from a strategic plan and is not simply opportunistic. It should be easy to ideate new products and services that are a logical extension of your brand (promises made and kept) when you are operating from strategy.

Missing any of these items likely means your brand strategy is missing enough critical elements that a packaging design refresh is not likely to produce the results your company wants. We suggest you start at the beginning.

Check your score.

  • 6 or more and you are good to go. You clearly have a plan and a strong team in place.
  • 4-5 and you are close to ready. Make some bold strategic decisions prior to undertaking a rebrand.
  • 3 or less, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate your reasoning, then give us a call.
Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Food Trends & Innovation: Branding Will Decide the Winners at Expo West

Trends. Are you tired of following the whiplash of what’s next in food? No? Me neither. My favorite trade show of the year, Expo West (or better known as the Natural Foods Expo), is just around the corner. This show touts itself on being “the world’s largest natural, organic and healthy products event,” and it is frankly THE trade show for food, beverage, health, and wellness right now. I love seeing our clients and partners, but I’m mostly excited about innovation – real innovation, not just flavor profiles. I’m talking about revolutionary thinking about food, nutrition, and extensions that align with brand positioning.

Plant-Based Protein

We can probably call this a mega-trend at this point. The continued desire to eat more plant-based foods is part earth sustainability, part health, and part animal-welfare related. The bigger guys are doing it well (I’m looking at you, Tofurky, Field Roast, and Amy’s – you guys are killing it with line extension right now), but we see a lot of up-and-comers continuing to move into this space too, like our friends at Hilary’s. Specifically, Beyond Meat has caught my attention. Yes, it’s super kitschy that the burger “bleeds,” but the strategic merchandising next to ground meat in the meat department is freaking brilliant. I’d like to shake the hand of the salesperson that convinced Kroger to do that. There’s your zag. This trend is going to be around for a while, and we are excited to see how it grows beyond soy-based products and outside some of the basic products.

Sugar-Free or Low-Sugar Beverages

I’m not talking Stevia or some other sweetening substitute. I mean removing sweet flavors from the palate completely. The continued sugar backlash is creating quite the demand for alternative beverages (AKA not soda or traditional juices). Add the sugar tax and you’ve got a beverage consumption shift happening that is going to bring us whiplash. I anticipate 2018 to be just the beginning. I find it interesting that many traditional beverages like water (yeah – the clear stuff) and tea are rising in popularity. I suppose that’s to be expected, everything old is new again. Add sparkling beverages like DRY and drinkable soups and broths and you’ve got a full-on rebellion happening. Coke and Pepsi are certainly watching and taking note – as is evidenced by Diet Coke’s recent rebrand, but I don’t know that they are moving fast enough. My bet is there will be several portfolio acquisitions in their future to offset decreasing traditional soda sales. If you’re a brand considering a purchase, now might be a good time to clean up your books.

Ethnic Flavors

Consumers’ demand for something interesting and new is extending away from earlier trends of Mexican, Chinese, and Thai. An infusion of Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, and African flavors are showing up on the shelves. As these are new flavors to the traditional American palate, it’s easy to position these as healthier options to the traditional Americanized version of our current “ethnic” options. While Korean and Vietnamese have been in my rotation for a while, I’m excited about the influx of “legit” Middle Eastern flavors becoming more accessible.


As consumers become more comfortable with the idea of using science to maximize the benefits of food, we are now seeing biohacking cross over into more conventional diets. From the more conventional Whole 30 to intermittent fasting, eating well has become a lifestyle. While Bulletproof and Soylent are my current brands to watch, I have a feeling Expo West will produce more food and snack options for those that have become comfortable with hacking their food for performance purposes.

Root to Stem

Eating the leaves of beets or the roots of cilantro doesn’t sound very exciting to me. However, if you are a foodie or a person interested in your environmental footprint, this might be for you. The flavors and nutrition from fruit and vegetable parts we have traditionally thrown away are becoming vogue. This trend is so new that I’m not sure I’m going to see any Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) on the floor just yet, but it is picking up speed in restaurants and homes of the more adventurous chefs. What I do expect to see are the beginnings of these conversations in the fresh produce sections of the show. How it will manifest for the average consumer (outside of maybe food delivery services and the produce section) is yet to be discovered. I’ll be curious to see how this trend might manifest in the next 12 months.

Meal Delivery

In the beginning, there was Schwans. Yeah – they’re still around, but being first to the market doesn’t make you the winner. Newer and hipper brands like Martha & Marley Spoon (sorry – Martha is my queen) will continue to grow. This category is getting incredibly crowded, and the winners won’t be the ones that have the best recipes, cheapest meals, or fastest delivery – it will be about the brand. Other than Martha (who is already a titan in the foodie world), the others will need to figure out their brand in order to stay in the game.

Instacart, Amazon, and even Kroger and Walmart will likely disrupt this category. They already have strong existing brand equity, supplier partnerships to support this area, and a robust operational infrastructure. They can deliver exactly what Sunbasket and others are doing with little heartache to their business. In the case of Instacart, the Uber of grocery shopping, they have a lot of flexibility because they are not limited to one retailer. The consumer that stays with them will be the one that wants to shop but is fickle about their commitment to a single retailer or brand and doesn’t mind paying for the convenience of having someone else do the shopping. (I love that my shopper texts me during their shopping trip to help me navigate inventory!) The newer brands will need to figure it out quickly and buckle up. It’s going to get bumpy through this transition. These brands will likely not have a booth at Expo because they sell direct to consumer, but they are on-trend and competing for those grocery and CPG dollars. They’ll probably be walking the floor looking for ideas or partner vendors.

Cannabis and Hemp Infusion

OK, OK, cool your jets. I am actually not sure this is a mainstream trend yet. However, with the growing number of states legalizing marijuana and the number of people that are warming up to the idea of it not being “the Devil’s drug,” cannabis and hemp seem like the next frontier for CPG. There is still a lot of research and development going into learning the health benefits of this product outside of recreational use. But one thing is for sure: It’s not going away, as evidenced by the financial investment into the high brand and packaging that is hitting the market. It will be interesting to watch how (and if) the recreational and functional (I’ll call it) parts of the product break apart for the different product shoppers. I fully anticipate Expo to be the place for this trend to break out into the CPG world.

As you can see, some trends may not be ready for CPG primetime, but it’s fun to watch the genesis transform. Sometimes you need to hit the floor and see the brands live before you really know if they’ve got legs. I’ll be sure to follow up after the show to reveal what mattered on the floor – not just what stood out.

By the way – if you are interested in seeing our work at Expo this year, here are the brands you should visit: Wedderspoon, Essentia Water, Second Nature, DRY Sparkling, Hilary’s Eat Well, Sahale Snacks, Living Intentions, Teton Waters, Alden’s Ice Cream, Atlantic Naturals, and Derma E. And if you want to meet up to chat, book a time today!

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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Diet Coke’s Rebrand: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Article after article has praised Diet Coke for making this “bold” move. However, most fail to recognize the flawed strategy behind the design and potential dangers in some of their design and messaging decisions.

Diet Coke’s new look aims to attract health-conscious millennials by adding four new flavors, modernizing the typography of the Coke logo, adding color and illustrations to the package, and introducing a slimmer 12 oz. can.

Although the brand seems to have good intentions, Diet Coke misses the mark in our books. This is a classic example of a brand attempting to target a particular audience without really understanding said audience and using faux innovation to cover up gaps in their brand strategy.

The Good: What They Got Right

The move to a sleek, slimmer can heightens the illusion of a “diet” soda being a healthier choice. This move, reminiscent of Sparkling Ice, gives off a lighter, high-end feel. Additionally, in most of their messaging the brand leaves out the word “soda” completely. Reframing the brand as a sparkling beverage instead of a soda positions it to seem healthier and more adult-friendly. The brand seems to have taken a page right out of DRY Sparkling’s book with this move.

As we all know, bottled water sales now far outpace soda sales in the U.S. and sparkling water is rapidly approaching that milestone as well. Strategically introducing four new fruity flavors to the Diet Coke line potentially threatens to grab market share from millennial LaCroix lovers. Targeting this booming demographic – although not necessarily revolutionary – is a smart move. Millennials hold tremendous buying power, so it would be foolish for a brand to ignore this influence.

“From the vector illustrations to the ‘fresh’ new flavor names, they’re screaming at a Millennial and Gen Z audience saying, ‘Hey, remember Diet Coke, the original diet beverage? We’re not a normal soda, we’re a cool soda.’” – Kat Simpson, designer at Retail Voodoo

Unfortunately, we’re not sure those “hip” new flavors (like twisted mango) will be used for what Diet Coke intended. Instead, we feel they’re just one step away from partnering with Smirnoff. These “feisty” flavors scream college party mixer. From their messaging, it seems like they’re trying to give consumers “what they wanted.” but it feels more like they are trying to re-engage those consumers that have already grown out of the soda phase of life. Although we don’t see the new flavors being consumed in a way Diet Coke intended, we can see them being used a bit more than the classic flavor is being used currently. But hey, at least we can see the flavors being embraced on some level – even if it’s not the intended one.

The Bad: What They Got Wrong

In terms of identity, Diet Coke failed to meet our expectations. The design and messaging changes feel disjointed and misleading. The flavor illustrations feel like an afterthought and destroy the only interesting new element of the can: the stripe.

“You can start to believe that the reduction of graphics and exposed can is like wearing a bikini after a diet, but those illustrations stop any dreamy visions you have like that.” – Eric Wyttenbach, senior designer at Retail Voodoo

The flavor naming conventions try to be young but just seem confused (twisted mango, zesty blood orange, feisty cherry, ginger lime). What’s so feisty about cherry Coke? They really feel like party drinks, not healthy and refreshing alternative beverages. And although as we stated before, this might potentially give a bump in sales, it won’t be among the target demographic nor will these flavors expand Diet Coke’s reach into new realms as this redesign intended.

The Ugly: The Bottom Line

A pretty new package, strong advertising, and fun messaging might be enough to briefly drop Diet Coke back into this audience’s consideration set. But when this audience takes one look at the label and sees that aspartame is still present, they’ll place it back on shelf and avoid it like the plague.

“News flash: Millennials and Gen Y are label readers.” – David Lemley, founder & chief strategist at Retail Voodoo

Although messaging and design updates attempt to communicate health, the brand still uses the harmful ingredients that repelled these consumers in the first place. Ultimately, Millennials will never replace their LaCroix (or any sparkling water for that matter) with soda.“This feels like a disingenuous move driven by a desire to pander to younger audiences and health-conscious consumers, but I predict both audiences will see through it and shun the can as a poser.” – Jacob Carter, design director at Retail Voodoo

Diet Coke’s VP of marketing is quoted in AdAge as saying that they didn’t want to change the formula for fear of risking their current loyal audience. They ignore the fact that nutrition and ingredient labels are important to most young people. Looking on-trend doesn’t matter when the product is full of unhealthy ingredients. If Diet Coke really wanted to make a bold move, they would have removed aspartame fully.

Diet Coke’s redesign is a prime example of why diet soda sales continue to fall. Brands focus on the exterior appearance of their products without addressing the real issues lurking beneath the surface.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Three Ways to Honor Your Brand’s Heritage While Looking to the Future

In a world where Amazon-Whole Foods and Apple are now the old-guard brands, how can your brand’s past become an asset that connects with employees and customers living a modern life?

Heritage brands today are losing relevance as newer, more transparent, baggage-less brands capture the modern consumer’s imagination. These new options can feel more authentic than those who could claim category original.

In many cases, a company’s history powerfully shapes the way its leadership thinks about vision, strategy, and brand. Heritage is a strength unless decisions made in the past put constraints on the solutions of the future.

When we started our work with Derma E, they were a skin care expert with a 30-year-long reputation as one of the original players in the natural channel, yet they struggled to connect with a younger audience. Despite their strong, ethical point-of-view, their old-school, clinical look felt outdated. We helped them reposition their brand so that once those messages were translated into package design, contemporary consumers could confidently display their products on the bathroom sink.

Real purpose will never go out of style, especially in today’s world. Beyond product and brand positioning, here are three ways to honor your brand’s past while leaning into a fast-paced future.

1. Kill the sacred cows with a pen.

If your brand has any history at all, there is room for your heritage to create a set of unspoken and untouchable rules. Every organization has some version of “we’ve always done it this way” echoing throughout their leadership and employees.

I believe this is because most brands see their heritage as a set of laws, rather than a permission slip to innovation. Anything not written down can be misinterpreted. Innovation begins when you write down all of your brand’s oral history and then edit it mercilessly.

2. Link your brand’s values to your culture.

Brand values are the beliefs defined by what Simon Sinek calls your “why.” When clarified, written down, and shared as part of the culture, brand values guide behavior, actions, and communication throughout your organization and externally to the public.

Your company’s culture and core values are the bedrock of innovation, communication, and effective teams. Today, the most successful companies are the ones that don’t just have great products but are also deeply focused on culture.

In order to win in the market, you need to win in the workplace first. REI is a great example of a heritage brand that continues to enjoy marketplace relevance and an avid fan-base driven by happy, engaged employees who understand how to share the company’s values with consumers.

REI is a brand with a true heritage that honors the past and looks to the future. They have created an internal culture that encourages employees and customers to “be one of us” and go deep. It is personal enough so that people want to share the story, contribute to helping make it real, and express it as one-of-a-kind heritage brand living in the present.

3. Care about human needs more than market opportunity.

In other words: Love your people as you love yourself. REI’s #OptOutside campaign is a great example of a brand using company values to push against the grain of what has become of our annual Thanksgiving holiday. By keeping their doors closed on Black Friday, they have taken a stand for their employees, promoted their values, and accomplished more sales than many of the retailers who opened at 4 a.m. and worked their people into the ground on day one of the holiday season.

For Derma E, once they embraced the realities of a changing consumer and acknowledged that what worked 30 years ago might not be as effective anymore, they saw dramatic results. Their leadership began thinking like their target audience and found a way to share their brand’s values and preserve the history while simultaneously evolving. Streamlining their offering, telling their story, and repositioning their focus to ethical beauty resulted in 45 percent growth in just 12 months. What was once seen as an outdated, medicinal brand now stands worthy of sitting on the vanity countertop of a contemporary woman.

As a business with heritage, you have an opportunity to turn your origin story into a powerful differentiator. As you go, remember that people seek out brands with authentic stories and a purpose beyond the bottom line. The strongest version of your brand story includes the past, present, and future of your how, what, and why.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David