Nip and Tuck Branding

Posted on in BrandBlab

Having heard a politician recently refer to a ‘Nip and Tuck’ policy approach it is probably already too late to utilise the phrase in relation to brand strategy. However, given the way cosmetic surgery has become an accepted lifestyle solution for ‘forever – young’ generations, maybe it is reasonable to consider how this principle of re-profiling can be used. Certainly it could replace the dated term ‘re-engineering’ to describe corporate cutting and carving as it is more in line with the speed of change expected in today’s markets.

As a brand design consultant, I fervently evangelise the need for companies to stop thinking of branding as cosmetic packaging. If the ‘new’ or refreshed brand is just lipstick on an old tired regime then inevitably we are all in trouble. However, working in new increasingly competitive ‘hot’ markets like Russia, it is tempting to go along with local managements who desperately want to embrace image change and modernisation as an effective route to success. These companies recognise the need for fast change, the need to achieve category or sector ‘givens’ as well as differentiated brand profiles. Unfortunately, changing management, staff culture and operational practices is far more complex than simply image design. Too often, the image fix then ends up divorced from the delivered reality to customers and stakeholders leading to the inevitable disillusion of unmanaged expectations. However, it is clearly unrealistic and too purist to only justify image change when reputation through brand behaviour experience can be guaranteed. Life’s not like that and we all need goals and aspirations. A clear function of any re-branding strategy is to signal intended change. It should motivate all those involved to work towards achieving the promises and values which the organisation has signed up to in embarking on brand development. Perhaps an N&T strategy is well placed to trigger and deliver the vital management and staff mindset morphing necessary to achieve a climate and receptiveness for change.

The issue then is to get the organisation to realise that any ‘nip and tuck’ is not an isolated first aid fix but a new opportunity to live the dream if they can face up to the lifestyle changes required. If you still keep the old habits, indulging when you should be controlling, avoiding the right exercises, etc. then clearly temporarily removed excesses and wear and tear will be back sooner rather than later. I am therefore up for promoting a ‘nip and tuck’ strategy if it can be truly a catalyst for change and corporate intent. None of us has time on our side and if a realistic re-branding can revitalise the company’s appearances and, at the same time, activate the psychological changes to affect behaviour then clearly we are on to something.

The challenge is then accepting that while worthwhile brand development must ultimately be seen as the way you are – not just the way you look, some carefully applied Botox could be a useful confidence builder and an allowable first step to signal the new you.

If it encourages a new self-confidence and determination then appearance enhancement becomes justifiable. Maybe Tesco’s anti website message ‘Every little hurts’ can then be viewed as a painful but necessary step towards the desired positioning ‘Every little helps’.

Clive Woodger