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HBR article review-A Brand is forever! A Framework for revitalizing a declining and dead brand by Sunil Thomas and Chiranjeev Kohli

Main Point:

This article mainly deals with avoiding the decline of a brand and revitalizing it after assessing its viability for revival. In fact this article uses the equity framework to present conditions that lead to declining a brand and then its death, and suggest some measures for managers to avoid such declines by timely fixing problems in brand equity elements. As many renowned brands have been revitalized over the years, this article proposes some guidelines to rebuild a brand and survive it from demise. Moreover, this article reviews the managerial actions and other environmental and competitive forces that can also be factors of a brand decline.

Lessons Learned:

I have come to know that building a brand requires million of dollar and effects; hence it is important to revitalize and revive the declining brand. I have also come to know that on the basis of PEC-Product Evolutionary Cycle, the causes of brand demise are managerial  actions of price increase, damaging product quality, cutting prices, changing the brand image and brand neglect. In addition uncontrollable environmental factors and competitive forces also cause a brand to die. However, as history and literature review shows that declining brands can be revived by carefully fine tuning their brand equity and taking long term perspective, pursuing a careful defined target market and resisting the temptation of milking the brand

Managerial Implications:     

Managers in fact have to look beyond the continuous declining sales as a sign of brand demise and decline. They have to keep an eye on the elements of brand knowledge, brand differentiation and customer response in order to timely fix problem areas in them. They have to actively observe the consumer response that may decline brand switch, brand knowledge that may decrease due to low advertising and certain other factors, and losing a well defined brand image due to dynamics of the target market. As the brands that have high awareness and differentiation have higher chance of revival and rebuilding, they managers should focus on these rather than wasting resources.

Question: On the basis of PLC-introduction, growth, maturity and decline phases, can a company come back from maturity and declining phases to growth?                              

It has been observed that PLC framework is based upon the sales and can lead to self-fulfilling prophecy; however it can also be helpful for companies to revitalize their mature and declining brands and bring them into growing phase.  In fact, this model can be used in combination with PEC framework of Product Evolutionary Cycle. It has been seen over time that Swatch, a Swiss company revitalize its watches by using the strategy of breakaway positioning and associating its watches with fashion accessory category. In fact, Swatch rebuilt its brand equity by increasing its brand differentiation and carefully refining its target market. Thus the right positioning strategy works great when competitive forces present severe competition and no hope for survival for a new brand in the market. In such cases, they may leapfrog their introductory phase and fall into directly into the growth phase by using the strategy of stealth position. However, Product Evolutionary Cycle takes a long-term perspective of revitalizing a brand and asks the managers to carefully monitor the brand equity elements of differentiation, brand knowledge and consumer response in order to avoid such declines. Thus managers should take both PLC as well as PEC models of product life cycles into account before taking any measure. 

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