Monday, June 21, 2010

How To Revitalize An Aging Brand. (The Return of the Hoodoo Gurus.)

I’ve been a fan of the Australian rock band the Hoodoo Gurus since the 1980’s, when they were college radio favorites with hits like Bittersweet, Come Anytime and What’s My Scene. The group’s sound has been described as everything from power pop to garage punk to surf rock, and has aged well—at least if you consult the number of plays the Gurus get on my iPod.

The band has been under the radar in the US for a decade or more—but a few weeks ago, the Gurus put out their first new music release in several years. Titled Purity of Essence, it’s better than anything they’ve done since their heyday—a tuneful, hard rocking set that I’ll be playing loud on my way to the beach this summer. (Recommended download: I Hope You’re Happy.)

The good vibes got me thinking: How do you revitalize and market an aging brand? In this case, how would you bring to life an aging rock band that has been out of sight & out of mind for years? Should the brand image be repackaged for a younger market? Can it be done without putting a lot of money behind the effort?

Here’s my quick take on what the Hoodoo Gurus, or any mature brand, can do to make a go of it in today’s market.

*Capitalize on name recognition – Is a rebranding needed? Not here, as the Gurus name has enough cache to bring back happy memories to fans of a certain age. In rock and roll, nostalgia still rules, as evidenced by the fact geezer bands from Rush to Crosby Stills & Nash are still successfully touring. By comparison, the Gurus, now in their late-40’s, are relatively young.

*Revitalize the product – The group could have rested on past laurels with a “greatest hits” release, but instead has opted for a brand refresh—a new CD that puts a fresh new spin on their sound. This increases the chance of winning new fans as well as rekindling the interest of older ones.

*Connect with thought leaders – While the new release has received good reviews from mostly obscure music blogs (save a glowing review in, they need to connect with the leaders in the space. This includes Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, and of course the leading rock radio outlets including XM and Sirius. Push, push, push, to get the new CD reviewed—and played—wherever possible.

*Use social media to get the word out – Social media represents the best way to reconnect with a now scattered fan base. While the band has set up Facebook and MySpace pages, it looks like there could be more interaction from band members, especially regarding fan posts that reference old videos and shows. Make the conversation a dialogue, not just a monologue.

*Take the show on the road – There’s nothing like a live product demonstration, especially when it comes to rock-and-roll. So I recommend the Gurus dust off their passports and hit the road for a tour. If they’re anywhere near Philly or NYC, you’ll find me not far from the stage.

This post originally appeared on Loyalty Truth on June 11, 2010, and is by Tom Rapsas, a seasoned Creative Director and Loyalty Marketing guru. You can follow him on Twitter here: @TomRapsas

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Virgin Atlantic Goes The Extra Mile

I just signed up for the Virgin Atlantic loyalty program called the Flying Club. I have no immediate plans to fly on the airline. Nor do I really need another frequent flyer card, as I’ve got miles banked in three or four programs now.

The reason I joined the club is I just finished reading Business Stripped Bare, Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur, the new book by Virgin-owner Richard Branson. I’ve come away impressed with Branson’s business acumen, his marketing skills, as well as his infectious joie de vivre.

I mean here’s a guy who started in the record business and has since branched out into mobile phones via Virgin Mobile, financial services, health clubs, bio-fuel, stem cell research, health-care and even space travel with Virgin Galactic. His brand, and passion for business, truly knows no boundaries.

But, getting back to Virgin Atlantic, what might be most impressive is how he has keyed into the customer experience as the crucial element of continued loyalty. Sure, Virgin has a traditional air miles program, but Branson identified several areas he believed would offer a better onboard experience, and delivered on them.

These features, some since copied by competitors, include:

*The ability to order food from your seat on-demand, according to your schedule, not the flight attendant

*A vast choice of music and movie options, delivered to a personal entertainment screen at your seat

*Seat-to-seat chatting with friends, colleagues or the attractive woman in 9B, via an entertainment screen keyboard

*Custom designed “soothing” lighting and comfy seats

It’s a reminder that true customer loyalty is never achieved by points programs and perks alone—you also need to deliver a superior customer experience. It’s something Branson strives for across all his business lines, and has me hoping I can find an excuse to fly Virgin Atlantic soon.

This post was written by Tom Rapsas and originally appeared on the blog Loyalty Truth, May 24, 2010.