Brand equity that has been carefully built up does not collapse when the brand collapses. It can exist long after a brand is presumed dead.
Even though Chiffon margarine hasn’t been sold in the states since 2002, there are undoubtedly people who recall fondly the commercials for the product featuring a perturbed “Mother Nature.”
According to Rob Walker in the New York Times, there’s a company called River West Brands in Chicago that purchases dead brands — basically just the intellectual property rights — and sees if they can’t be lucratively revived in some limited way, shape or form.
Thanks to River West Brands, Brim coffee, Nuprin pain reliever, Eagle Snacks and a Coleco video game system all returned to market. Thanks to brand equity, Limited Too will soon return.
In the case of Brim, which was a brand of decaffeinated java in the days when decaf was still a novelty, the lingering good feeling has been grafted (hopefully) onto awell-reviewed new product: a state-of-the-art coffeemaker.
The original catchphrase, “Fill It To The Rim With Brim,” has been retained.
The hope is that the catchphrase, which is still rattling around in many people’s heads, can be subtly and lucratively repurposed.
Notre Dame professor John F. Sherry Jr. describes brand reanimation as an incarnation of retromarketing. But contrary to what some people assume, it’s about a lot more than playing on people’s nostalgia.
“There’s no real reason that a brand needs to die,” Sherry told Walker, unless it is attached to a product that “functionally doesn’t work.” That is, as long as a given product can change to meet contemporary performance standards, “your success is really dependent on how skillful you are in managing the brand’s story so that it resonates with meaning that consumers like.”
Innovating while managing the brand story. Easier said than done of course.
But if brand equity or brand heritage can be so strong that it exists decades after a brand has ceased to exist, it stands to reason that brands really don’t have to cease to exist at all.