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Five steps for success when repositioning a global brand
There's no doubt about it – repositioning a brand is a challenging task.
So, when it comes to the repositioning of a global brand – one that could take on a multitude of different roles within different marketplaces depending on its geographical location – the complexities can feel endless to say the least.
But following our repositioning work with international fashion retailer Primark, we found five steps to shape a bulletproof strategy.
Step 01 – Capture the perspectives from multiple markets
To understand how your brand is perceived by multiple stakeholder groups – from employees to suppliers to customers – your market research should tune into the perspectives of multiple markets as early as possible.
Doing this will not only uncover your brand's strengths and weaknesses, but also insights into cultural nuance and how it affects brand perception.
Understanding your customers' preferences, needs, and aspirations – in line with your competitor's strategies – will help you to shape a positioning to set you apart.
Nike differentiated itself from the plethora of sports brands by strategically repositioning itself as a lifestyle brand.
By targeting fashion-conscious athletes, Nike is now globally recognised for its style and inspiration as well as performance.
Step 02 – Lock into your truth
A brand's positioning has to be authentic.
You need to tap into your existing strengths to find the one thing that remains when everything else is changing around it.
Ask yourself, what has always been there and will always be there?
If you ground this truth in a genuinely enduring human insight that aligns with your brand's values and the identified opportunity, you'll be on to a winner.
Bonus points if it's simple enough to cut through and be memorable – yet still broad enough to execute in limitless ways.
Our positioning of Primark needed to work across the entire offer, from fashion and lifestyle to gifting and Primark Cares, as well as across markets in different life stages.
'Love the Feeling' encompasses everything about Primark's commitment to creating maximum joy at minimum cost and unifies the entire Primark experience across the world.
Step 03 – Recognise where to be consistent
Although different markets may need messaging adapted to suit different cultures, your brand must remain recognisable wherever you are.
Visually, this will mean establishing a consistent look, feel, and tone of voice.
But if you run a golden thread through your brand values, positioning and personality, you'll establish a global coherence while allowing for local flex in content and messaging.
It's no secret that McDonald's is the king of global consistency from a branding perspective.
Yet its success also comes from knowing when to localise – from social media messaging to products and tweaking menus across markets to make them culturally relevant.
Step 04 – Take your customers with you
Often, a brand repositioning won't mean a huge visual change, so it's important to communicate your brand's evolution by harnessing the power of storytelling.
Firstly, you need to know which stories to tell.
Do you need to bring each market in line with the new brand positioning, or vice versa?
Then, employ a mix of global and local campaigns to convey your brand's journey, values, and vision. Narratives that emphasise the benefits and positive impact your brand brings to customers will help connect with them on an emotional level.
Volvo's focus on technological advancements and innovations to improve car safety features were effectively communicated as a commitment to protecting passengers and reducing accidents, which resonated with consumers globally.
This repositioning strategy helped Volvo differentiate itself in a crowded market and establish a strong brand identity synonymous with safety.
Step 05 – Monitor and adapt
At Continuous, we strongly believe that successful brands must combine long-term thinking with the ability to adapt quickly.
Having executed a brand repositioning, you must monitor its impact regularly – through KPIs such as brand perception, awareness, preference, and loyalty – and be prepared to adapt if necessary.
Dove has gradually shifted its positioning through its long-standing Real Beauty campaign, aimed at challenging traditional beauty standards and celebrating diverse representations of beauty.
Over the years, the brand has launched numerous iterations of the campaign, focusing on different aspects of self-esteem, body positivity, and embracing individuality.
As a result, Dove has consistently positioned itself as a brand that promotes inclusivity, self-acceptance, and empowerment.
Successfully repositioning a brand requires a thoughtful and strategic approach rooted in research.
If you embrace authenticity, show up consistently and leverage storytelling, you can navigate the complexities of brand repositioning and ensure your brand's continued growth and relevance in the global marketplace.
Just be sure to keep checking in with your customers.
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When uncertainty and shifting expectations are the new normal, brands no longer need radical transformation. What’s needed is long-term thinking and the ability to adapt quickly.
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