Recently, I flew in and out of the Minneapolis airport (MSP). It’s been a while since I was there and it was rather eerie to not see a single Northwest Airlines logo. Over the years I flew hundreds of thousands of miles with Northwest and many of those trips included a connection in MSP. Now, it’s all Delta, the airline that acquired Northwest and the one I was flying on this trip. For me, it’s still a Northwest town and it occurs to me that the brand still has value.
Is all the brand memory positive?
Well, in the case of Northworst, erhm Northwest – no. I was one of the airline’s most loyal passengers and still was treated like a cow in the stockade much of the time. Regardless, I still think the Northwest brand has more positive memories associated with it than negative ones. Would it be possible to resurrect the brand and leverage that good will? Would it be possible to transfer that brand to other industries and products like Richard Branson has done with his Virgin brand?
Leveraging an old brand
Would it be faster and easier to buy an old brand out of bankruptcy than to recreate your own from scratch? To answer that question, you’d have to go looking for a brand that still had memory and loyalty that applies to your new product and market. Sure, this is not easy work; but neither is creating brand awareness from scratch. Think of the buzz you could get just from resurrecting a brand and bringing a new product to market under the moniker. That publicity alone might justify the cost of buying the brand out of bankruptcy.
If you are creating a retro product, an old dormant brand that evokes childhood memories and emotions for your target market might be just the way to go. The key is to take the Branson approach and focus on the experience of the brand not necessarily the product(s) that flew under the banner in the past. Will the emotional response the old brand generated be enough to encourage purchase decisions of the new product flying under the flag?
When it comes time to brand, searching for old retired brands just might be one approach that could work for you.