A Letter from the Editor

By Jeanie Hendrie

With the close of January, comes a quick slide into the second month of the year. A month during which yet another batch of New Year’s resolutions will cease to be resolved. Only a few will stay the course, earning the privilege of donning their proverbial skinny jeans come spring thaw.

The past month of our blog has been a virtual toast to that distinguished group – to the people, brands and industries that have defied the odds and in many cases convention, making a change for the better.

As is the case with resolutions, these changes come in all shapes and sizes. And now, so does Barbie. Readers, meet Curvy Barbie, Petite Barbie and Tall Barbie, Mattel’s response to mounting criticism that its iconic line of dolls was entirely out of touch with today’s young girls. In a video clip released by Time, the team behind Barbie attribute their latest turnaround effort to posing a simple question “if we could wipe the slate clean and start this brand over today, what might we do?”

For Barbie, job #1 was fixing the product – enter new body shapes and a range of ethnicities that allow every girl to see themselves in their doll. Quite the opposite is the case for mature brands Lego and Reebok, who are leveraging key assets from their past to propel them into the future. The return of ‘build your own’ Lego kits and retro Reebok sneakers prove that the past is not always best left behind.

Updating products is one thing; how about updating an industry? Sport Chek has made a splash by bringing the best of digital and physical shopping together to reinvent the customer experience at its stores. Appy Couple attempts to wake up a tired wedding industry with its clever app that turns the bride into her own wedding planner. Perhaps there is even a lesson to be learned from Donald Trump who, if nothing else (and many would say there is nothing else), understands both the power and opportunity of disrupting a sleepy institution.  

Marketers, the message is clear. Brands – unlike diamonds – are not forever, not naturally at least. Mature brands must practice self-reflection and continuous improvement to survive in today’s marketplace. Don’t wait until next January to reassess, dig into this month’s content for a Sklar Wilton point of view on breathing new life into old brands: