Great brands are like Evergreen trees, they work year-round - retaining leaves (or in the case of brands – dollars).
In 1977, George Lucas disrupted the movie universe by introducing an epic space saga that would inspire a generation – and be the seed of an evergreen franchise that is alive and thriving today. Star Wars.
So tall and strong is this evergreen, that in 2012 Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4 billion with the intent of aggressively expanding the Star Wars universe.
They have delivered on this promise to a (thus far) strong reception. The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and Rogue One each had multi-billion-dollar box office earnings - with the next big anticipated ticket - Solo - hitting later this month.
Whether it’s just a seedling, or an established tree, what can you learn from the success of this “empire” that will keep your brand relevant and fresh for years to come?
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....”
Every brand has an origin story, and Evergreen brands understand what it is about that story consumers fell in love with.
Staying true to your origin and using that as a platform to push the envelope of innovation, is critical to keeping brands fresh. One proven strategy for success is conducting co-creation sessions with your customers to engage them directly in the development of your next innovative product, service or promotion. This practice can not only yield a more fully-fleshed out offering to accelerate your go-to-market launch BUT it does so with the involvement of your core customer who will help ensure you remain true to your voice and origin while addressing their core needs and wants.
An evergreen brand who honors their story: Nike
Nike stays in-step with their consumers by honoring their brand story of bringing inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. Performance and the athletes struggle to attain victory is at the core of who they are and how they connect with the athlete in all of us. They then use this champions story as their launching pad. The fan favorite Nike Epic React sneaker was developed after the company challenged themselves to develop a foam cushioning that had never been experienced before.
“Great, kid. Don't get cocky”
At the time of Lucasfilm’s acquisition by Disney, film critic and historian, Leonard Maltin was quoted as saying, “There's no way of telling where this is going to go at this point. Obviously, Disney is investing in a blue-chip property that will yield dividends for years to come.” Then added, “But it's not a fresh property. It remains to be seen if they revive the characters. There are a lot of unanswered questions."
Over time, being an iconic fan favorite can distract you from the fact that time has passed, and your fan base may be evolving. However, including on-going qualitative consumer deep-dives as part of your brand maintenance, is a smart option to keep in touch with your consumers values, desires and challenges in order to fuel your marketing efforts.
An evergreen brand who acted upon this: Yoplait
In the highly competitive and crowded yogurt aisle now dominated by Greek - 54-year-old Yoplait realized their fan base was contracting. They recently launched Yoplait Oui as an answer to this contraction in traditional and light segments. In doing so, they are focusing on the development of a new segment that ties back to the origin of Yoplait (French, creamy, rich, flavorful, yogurt as life, etc.) but delivers a clean ingredient deck that aligns with what today’s yogurt consumers now expect.
“Look, your worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me.”
Iconic words from a rebel and self-proclaimed scoundrel. But, of course, his tragic flaw.
The lasting success of Star Wars is largely due to the fact that they have built a strong and diverse fan base they greatly respect and understand. This is the secret to keeping those fans engaged over time.
Imagine having a consumer as engaged in your brand as Star Wars fans are to the Star Wars franchise? To achieve this long term, partnering with insights experts to get to the foundation of what your consumers most value and cherish about your brand is critical in achieving a continuously strong bottom line. Keeping true to what is most important to your fan base is job number one to staying relevant.
An evergreen brand who listens effectively: KraftHeinz
The fine folks at KraftHeinz understand what their brand-loyals love and value about their iconic blue box mac and cheese – and what these fans have evolved to want. So, they quietly and effectively reformulated the recipe replacing artificial dyes with ingredients like paprika and turmeric to maintain the bright yellow color that the mac & cheese is known for. In this, they ensured no artificial flavors or preservatives while retaining the recognizable and beloved elements of the proposition which their consumers know best.
“The Force is Strong in This One”
The net/net here is simple: you need to stay connected to and with your fans and really listen to know what matters to them, what can’t be messed with and gain inspiration on ways to keep things fresh. You want them to keep lining up for your next big release as they anticipate the continuation of the epic saga they’ve come to love. They need the plot twists and turns but don’t neglect the origin and characters that endeared them to you in the first place. Listening is key! Want to hear more case studies around successful brand research and maintenance? We’ve got some great stories to discuss. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.
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