July 29, 2009

Championship Brand Tinkering

There are many flavors of baloney floating around the ad world these days. There's "digital" baloney, there's "conversation" and "engagement" baloney, but the biggest, most pervasive, and most dangerous form of baloney is still "branding" baloney.

In a post called "Brand Tinkering" I said,
...tinkering with the brand is way more fun than solving real business problems.

Solving problems requires unpleasantness. Floors have to be swept and walls have to be painted. People have to be fired. Systems have to be changed. Products have to be redesigned.

Brand tinkering, on the other hand, is generally quite agreeable. All it requires is money and a bunch of congenial meetings. Hire some branding consultants. Appoint a task force. Interview "stakeholders." .
..Best of all, if there's any real work to be done, it'll be done by the consultants...

Unfortunately, after the money is spent and the naval-gazing brand babblers have gone home, someone still has to sweep the floor and paint the walls.
It looks to me like Pepsi-Cola Co. are becoming the all-time champion brand tinkerers.

We all know about the Tropicana "re-branding" disaster they went through earlier this year. Their Pepsi branding document, courtesy of Arnell, was the laughing stock of the industry a few months ago. And now The Wall Street Journal is reporting that their re-branding of Gatorade to "G" has been another nightmare.

According to the WSJ, Gatorade sales dropped over 17% in the first six months of this year, and they lost 4.5% share of the sports-drink market. That's a lot to lose in 6 months.

It seems like the brand babblers have taken over at Pepsi, and they are screwing it up royally.

It will take a while (like it does in all big organizations) for someone with a brain to realize what's been going on. While the tinkerers have been pissing away zillions on their crazy branding projects, it looks to an outsider like no one's been sweeping the floors or painting the walls.

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