Early detection of brands looking to evolve or rejuvenate, and in the process review their trusted advisors is the Holy Grail for agency new business professionals. The clues are there…

Last week LinkedIn announced it will be rolling out a “new brand system”. The world’s top destination for all things grey and blue since 2002 is warming up its palette and embracing Vogue’s Standout Shade of the Season: brown. The company has helpfully laid out the reasons for the refresh in their blog, but to save you time, it boils down to the fact that their audience has diversified over the years and it wants to become “warmer and more human” to reflect this.

LinkedIn’s explanation checks out

It seems obvious with hindsight, but were there other runes to read that change might be afoot? Of course there were. Three years ago (virtually to the day) Microsoft acquired LinkedIn and hired VP Brand, Communications and Social Impact Melissa Selcher. “Project Otis”, as the rebrand was known internally, began the following year, spearheaded by Melissa.


M&A always results in a refresh

And occasionally it’s the buyer that changes its spots. Take CYBG, a bicentennial FTSE 250 challenger bank (better known to most as The Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank). It acquired Virgin Money last year but has opted to rebrand its entire portfolio under the Virgin Money banner to convey “distinctive and brilliant customer experience”. Rolling this out across every CYBG consumer and stakeholder touchpoint is a big job and the group is currently in discussions with various suppliers who were proactive enough to connect with it post acquisition to support implementations.

Follow the leader

In every sector there are tastemakers whose activity effectively signposts where others are likely to follow. Take Sonos. Much like LinkedIn, it’s shifting away from cold, techy monochrome to warmer climes of ‘sand’, ‘pine’ and ‘rust’ reflecting the brand’s rural Santa Barbara home. Other consumer electronics and tech brands will surely follow suit. A scan of the marketplace will provide you with a potential pipeline of brands whose cold, techy façade is beginning to look outdated and would benefit from a splash of colour!

Painted into a corner

Another subset of brands to look out for are ones that have limited their opportunities for growth by becoming rather niche in their appeal. For instance, Grey Goose cultivated a super-premium image and an association with exclusive nightclubs but was beginning to feel restricted. Its new platform “Live Victoriously” aims to reposition as more of an affordable luxury that can be enjoyed anywhere as you “celebrate the small victories in life”.


Growing pains

It’s a common challenge in the luxury world: broadening your appeal without compromising your core values. Aston Martin has sought to increase its appeal to women as a luxury lifestyle brand since 2015, appointing a female advisory panel and appointing its first female President and Head of Aston Martin the Americas, last year. If you’re looking for which luxury brands might be considering stepping up their global ambitions Italy might not be a bad starting point.

New palates, new palettes

last month I wrote about the risk of delisting for brands that have tremendous name recognition, heritage and operational scale, but find themselves out of step with consumer tastes. Despite being a much loved name, Ribena found itself on the chopping block a couple of years ago when its added sugar variants were removed by Tesco. The brand has been looking tor reposition itself ever since, initially working with JWT to appeal to millennials, and most recently appointing Seymourpowell to design a new fully recyclable bottle. Waiting on the platform for my morning train I noticed the Ribena Frusion, which is clearly an attempt to stay relevant alongside the current crop of craft cordials.


Since you’ve read this far, let me share with you another hard-won insight: you might want to look at the other big names in the Lucozade Ribena Suntory stable. One has appointed 4 new senior marketers; increased media spend by 10% and been with the same creative partner since 2013...

Are you in need of a refresh?

Despite being outspoken when it comes to what brands should be doing to refresh their identity and creative ideation, all too often agencies neglect to turn the mirror back upon themselves. This can come down to lack of time, or insufficient in-house resource. We’ve also learned it can be quite difficult for owner-run agencies to be objective about where their offer sits in the marketplace. Does your message to the market accomplish its mission?

If you’re aiming for strong, sustainable growth in this competitively brutal, saturated market, your first job may well be to acknowledge you need to refresh your positioning – and possibly bring on fresh legs to take your new campaign to market.

Gareth Dixon