Lately, I’ve been noticing a number of brands that are trying to shift themselves into a new space, twisting their identities to fit new targets, environments or occasions. Some seem more likely to succeed than others.
Coleman Stoves for example, a truly functional brand, is tapping into two big, but not necessarily aligned, trends – nostalgia and social networking. They tug at consumers’ heartstrings by reminding them of good times camping with family, making connections around meals and having fun, all of which have nothing to do with video games, television or i-anything. While I think the nostalgia piece is pretty credible for Coleman, while the social networking nod is a bit off. (Interestingly though, the Coleman Facebook page seems cold and functional. I think that’s a miss for them.)
Who doesn’t love Pop-Tarts? They’re delicious, quick, and come in great flavors. For years, Kellogg’s marketed them as a fast breakfast, an on-the-go alternative to eggs and oatmeal. Which was fine, except it kept Pop-Tarts in a niche. Recently, though Pop-Tarts has been reinvented, tapping into what I think was probably a great insight – Pop-Tarts are FUN, any time of day! By making Pop-Tarts more of a fun treat, Kellogg’s has given the brand a new, lively personality, inviting consumers to have them any time of day, and even experiment with them with additions like ice cream. They’re keeping the image of moms and kids, but now they’re adding a whole lot of personality for the brand, too.
Paper plates are paper plates, right? Not when they’re Chinet. Chinet takes a product with a traditionally functional point of view and turns it into a way to connect with friends and family. While competitors talk about strength and style, Chinet has been going right to the heart of the family, capturing the moments where paper plates can help us bond with others. I get it, and I like the optimistic scenarios. It’s an interesting and heartfelt twist on the category.
Talbots has been a symbol of classic women’s wear for years. It’s been a solid brand with a loyal core target: the mature woman with a relatively classic (read: conservative) style. Now, thanks to a few key Michelle Obama sightings and the face of Linda Evangelista, there’s a new Talbots in town, a younger, sleeker, more chic version with a bit of sex appeal. Time will tell if this new twist on the Talbots’ image will play in Peoria.
Brands continue to search for that emotional sweet spot, so to speak, connecting with consumers and trying to make shoppers feel they can’t live without them. As brands shift themselves, understanding what keeps the core and draws the new is what gives the zig zag some zip!