I read in the Ottawa Start Blog this morning that 106.9fm is dropping Virgin, and becoming once again The Bear.
This really is a perfect example of product re-branding gone awry.
In marketing we are always looking for new ways to grab the attention of the customer. We try to create excitement, desire and interest in a product. There is one logic for a fresh exciting launch and quite another when considering regeneration and expansion of interest in an existing product.
My favourite example of rebranding in Ontario is The Beer Store. Some of you may remember that it used to be called Brewers Retail. I moved to Ontario in 1980. I don’t think I ever heard anyone call it Brewers Retail. In fact this colloquialism led to some confusion as I searched for “The Beer Store” and could not find it. This is a perfect example of the market leading the way to re-branding and the corporate brains having the sense to listen to their customers.
In the case of The Bear, I can only imagine that changing their name was the result of wanting to increase advertising sales and increase listener statistics. They must have figured that with enough promotion, they could create some momentum and give the sales staff something new to talk about and pique the interest of listeners in Ottawa.
The Bear, however, had/has a fiercely loyal listener base. Many queried the need for re-branding and the interim name “Virgin” was certainly contrary to the image of the verbiage of “The Bear”. One is strong and gives some idea that one will not be listening to soft rock. “Virgin” is clearly a more feminine approach and would seem to have been counterproductive given today’s announcement
Bank of Montreal became BMO. At least they kept their letters. Toronto Dominion and Canada Trust merged and had the good sense to merge the names for brand recognition.
When corporations completely change the image of something familiar and beloved, thereby eliminating the loyalty base, the public will default to the next familiar product in that genre. Transition customer loss can be catastrophic. People are comforted by the familiar. We like ritual and a reason to get behind a team. It makes us part of a community.
If you have product that you want to re-launch you don’t throw out everything you know; you look at what is successful and build on that with current innovative ideas for reaching your customer base in a new exciting way.
I’m not trying to be a Monday morning quarterback here but what is next? Will we be watching The Fabulous Bowl at this time next year?
Provocateur du jour: