The Madonna Effect: How to rejuvenate your brand


Madonna 2Written by Chipo Mapungwana

What happens when your brand’s appeal start to wane? When your customers are becoming bored and their eyes are straying towards your competition? When your sales are declining? You may need to rejuvenate your  brand.

Brands can be understood in four basic stages. Brands that made money, brands that are making money, brands that will make money and brands that will be making money in the future. Creating brands is a very expensive affair and often takes many years to accomplish. What then happens when a brand that used to be your company’s cash cow is dying a slow and painful death. When customers ignore it on the shelves and when the competition is gulping down your market share in mouthfuls.  Brand rejuvenation is the effort to bring a brand which is failing to  make money into the money making bracket, using  a new positioning or communication strategy.

Why you may need  to rejuvenate your brand

  • A new competitor is slowly eroding your market share.
  • Your sales are declining  and you need to revitalise the brand and energise  your customers towards the brand.
  • You want to communicate that you are still a leader in  that brand category.
  • The brand image may have become less relevant to the target market.
  • The brand has lost its unique point of differentiation  and you need to revitalise its image.
  • The target market has aged and the brand has not renewed its position in the minds of the next generation.
  • You brand is no longer meeting the needs  and desires of its customers.
  • You need to re-engage  your customers and modernise  the brand in the face of changing technology.
  • Existing package designs have become tired and grown old in the minds of your customers.

Apart from the above reasons, neglecting the brand because of overconfidence that the brand is established and can sustain itself, poor consumer relationship management and lack of an appropriate response to increases in competition levels can make it  imperative that you rejuvenate your Brand

Methods of brand rejuvenation

1) Improving consumer recall and recognition of your brand during purchase or consumption setting.

2) Improve the strength, favorability, and uniqueness of how your customers associate themselves with the  brand image.

Example: Unilever’s marketing campaign “dirty is good”  for is washing soap Sunlight to improve the strength of the brand’s recall has created real competition for the tradition “Surf” brand. Its bright sunny packaging also stand out on shelves making it the first product that customers usually see. That, added to the marketing slogan, makes it an instant hit with many customers.

3)Forget your competition and focus more on your customers’ expectations and needs and desires and how they want the brand to make   them feel and think.

4)Manage how existing customers perceive your brand by refreshing favourable perceptions. You can do this by calling up past memories and positive perceptions of a product, the consumer will be more open to any new messages the marketer is sending.

Example: The image of the Mini cooper has been revitalise to appeal to both the young and young at heart, without losing its nostalgic image. The design of the new model while not differing in shape, is also appealing to the new age driver in terms of colour, interior and engineering.

5)Associate the Brand with relevant customer goals: Over time, consumer wants and needs change. Sometimes an old mature brand   must reposition itself as a viable tool to achieve these new goals.

6)Associate the Brand with new usage: By expanding the perceived usage  for a mature product, product sales can rise, or at least be protected.

Example: Baking Soda is a perhaps the most recognized example of the diversified innovative applications of the product. Baking soda, primarily used for cooking uses, is now found in many household refrigerators as a deodorizer or in bathrooms for dental hygiene.

7)Mature brand manufacturers should research and develop ways to market new uses for their products. In order to increase the frequency of usage, additional applications of the product should be sought and communicated to customers to increase sales.

8)Repositioning the Brand by establishing more compelling points of difference. This may simply require reminding consumers of the virtues of a brand that they have begun to take for granted. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes ran a successful ad campaign with the slogan “Try Them Again for the First Time.”

Example: Merrill Lynch, which today is one of the world’s leading financial management and advisory companies, in an effort to address its rather unexciting corporate brand image and show people that it is really a part of the modern hi-tech world, re-engineered its icon (the bull) and embarked on a major advertising campaign that coincides with its entry into online trading.

Example: Colgate toothpaste got the whole world to use more toothpaste by changing its packaging to plastic  and telling us all that we need to brush our teeth at least twice a day.

Example: In the early eighties, Harley-Davidson repositioned its brand to be “the full-sized, classically styled motorcycle for people who see themselves as individuals.” To do so, it targeted a new market and changed virtually, every component of the value proposition.

9)Change brand elements. Often one or more brand elements must be changed to either convey new information or to signal that the brand had taken on new meanings because the product or some other aspect of the marketing program has changed. The brand name is the most difficult to change however the packaging, logo and other characters may be changed relatively easily.

10)Market the brand to a different segment than its traditional market segments.

Example: Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo achieved success by promoting the gentleness and everyday applicability of its shampoo to an adult audience.

Example : After a century of fighting tooth and nail with arch-rival Arrow, Van Heusen finally was able to take over the top spot in the dress shirt market by devoting half of its marketing  budget to advertising directly to women in women’s magazines, Van Heusen was able to influence key decision makers: Women buy an estimated 60% to 70% of men’s shirts.

For Marketing consulting contact Chipo at


About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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2 Responses to The Madonna Effect: How to rejuvenate your brand

  1. The “Madonna Effect” is something I read about years ago defining a modern day physiological effect associating to what makes a person, brand or object a “household name”. There is some magic number (N number of times) in which people can see something over and over to make them never forget or permanently identify with a person, brand or object. To better describe this, back to the early days (’83/’85) of MTV promoting a relatively unknown performer, Madonna Louise Ciccone a.k.a Madonna became a household name through the massive repetition of airplay and coverage by MTV. In a few short years, Madonna became a household name – hence the “Madonna Effect”…

    I really like your approach to marketing and think it is a different concept that is completely new, fresh and, I would imagine, a very effective approach to branding rejuvenation. I enjoyed reading your post and think it is a good advertising strategy – completely worthy of the term “Madonna Effect”. Best regards ~ Andrew J. Polcha

  2. Petunia says:

    this piece of information is to do…love the fact that points are precisely stated and easily understood and also the examples used here make it even more easier to incorporate…big up! this has been really helpful with regard to my assignment..thanks

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