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The Comeback Brands & How They Reclaimed Their Crowns

4-minute read

It takes creativity and courage to stage a successful brand comeback. But these big names show it’s possible to go from the doldrums to dizzy heights when you find the winning formula…

The comeback brands and how they reclaimed their crowns

A bump in the road, a rough patch, a challenging spell – call it what you will, all brands find themselves against the ropes at some point, even the biggies. And, now and again, it’ll feel like the only option left on the table is to call it a day.   

Then it’s decision time. Turn off the lights and lock up for the last time, or – and this is the one that’ll test your mettle and your finances in equal measure – launch the kind of comeback Kylie would be proud of (gold lamé hotpants optional).

For the companies below, it was the latter that won the vote. They each managed to stage successful brand comebacks and, in a blur of revamping, realigning and relaunching, they regained their street cred and clawed their way back up the popularity polls.

1) Domino’s Pizza

You’ve got to hand it to Domino’s for the most fearless – and risky – comeback mission of all time. Astonishingly, the brand put its quality issues in the spotlight, launching a campaign that centred on its sub-standard food. The company acknowledged its pepperoni-slathered slices just didn’t cut it, and asked customers to help them do better via their campaign. The fast food giant took the feedback on board and set about dramatically improving its product line. Not only that, it got its digital act together, finding ways for customers to order however, and whenever, they wanted. The hard work paid off – the raft of changes, both to the product and the ordering system, saw their share price increase 60-fold and sales go through the roof. 

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2) Levi’s

The denim dynamo was riding high in the mid-Nineties, but the advent of fast fashion took a major toll on sales. By the early Noughties, the brand wasn’t considered hip enough for the trendsetters. Not to be beaten, Levi’s mounted an epic comeback, setting up a multi-million-pound innovation lab, revamping product lines (including a women’s denim range that saw sales rocket) and rolling out some high-profile collaborations. Another masterstroke came in the form of their hit ‘Live in Levi’s’ campaign – an idea spawned by a devoted customer who said ‘You wear other jeans, but you live in Levi’s’. The brand continues to go from strength to strength – in the first half of 2021 profits skyrocketed 198% on the previous year. 

3) LEGO

The good ship, LEGO, nearly ran aground in the late Nineties when its innovation efforts got the thumbs down from kids. Too much focus was given to action-figure toys that didn’t require assembly, and by 2003 the company found itself in trouble with losses of $300 million. It was the arrival of a new chief exec that helped steady the ship. Jorgen Vig Knudstorp asked children what they wanted and the answer was, simply, to build. The company created LEGO ranges that ticked all the right boxes, plus it started linking up with fan favourites like Star Wars and Toy Story. This, coupled with an award-winning marketing campaign that centred on imagination, sealed its heroic comeback. In 2015, the company announced record profits and cemented its status as one of the world’s biggest toy firms.

Top Tips For A Successful Brand Comeback

Overhaul your image Never underestimate the power of a makeover. Just ask Ms Minogue, who credits a kitsch disco hit and sparkly hotpants for regaining her pop crown. A strong new look will make people sit up and see your company in a completely different light.

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Launch a showstopper product As well as a new image, the obvious way to command attention is to launch that elusive thing – the next must-have product. Apple nailed it when they shifted their focus from personal computing to mobile devices, which instantly breathed new life into what was (hard to believe, we know) a flagging brand.

Dazzle with wow-factor marketing There are all sorts of options to consider here. You could go for a campaign that busts perceptions of your brand, or put a new spin on an old favourite, like Levi’s did with their 2017 ‘Live in Levi’s’ ad. Equally, don’t be afraid to go down the Domino’s route and poke fun at yourself by admitting past flaws – honesty and humour are a potent combination with today’s audiences.

Make nostalgia your friend Retro cool is still a big thing – there’s a lot of appetite out there for products and services that hark back to a simpler time and give a flavour of yesteryear. It’s about how you take your offering and give it a contemporary kick. Polaroid did exactly that, embracing the digital era by introducing a tech version of its iconic One-Step camera. It snaps digital photos, then uses a tiny printer to produce a physical print.

Take a widespread problem and fix it Look at the customer pain points in your particular industry and be the brand that fixes them. T-Mobile turned the industry on its head when it set about rectifying all the things customers hate about mobile phone providers. Just remember to shout about your new consumer-centric approach or your efforts will have been in vain.

Remember, tastes can go full circle Take a moment to consider some of our friends in the footwear business. Dr. Martens, Crocs and Birkenstock have all battled the ‘ugly duckling’ label over the years, which has hit profits. Yet instead of throwing in the towel, they’ve all staged successful brand comebacks, adapting their offerings, revitalising their marketing and somehow managing to regain their foothold in the fickle world of fashion.

If you need a little more inspiration and want some help with a project, get in touch. We’ve got a top team of experts living and breathing all things branding, and we inject passion into everything we do. Check out some of our latest work here.

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