I’m a fan of the Fig Newton. Sorry, I mean the Newton–its new moniker in a  rebrand campaign rolled out by Nabisco this week. Other old brands needing renewal could take note of their strategy.

Born in 1891, the Fig Newton was billed as a “cake” rather than a cookie. These tasty morsels featured heavily in my after-school snack repertoire as a kid.  Something to do with the texture–soft on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a touch of crunch from the fig seeds. But now Nabisco has decided figs aren’t sexy. They’re too much like prunes. But the Newton still has healthy ingredients that can be touted. So Nabsico took away the modifier, added new flavors like raspberry and blueberry, threw in some whole grains, and rolled out a new ad campaign. Plus they launched Newtons Fruit Thins, which target boomers like me, rather than our kids. (And hey I have to admit, they’re pretty tasty. Though my advice to Nabisco would be to go easy on the Rock-Hard Pieces of dried lemon in that variety—we oldsters have fragile teeth!)

Declines in sales were reversed, largely thanks to the Fruit Thins. Other aging brands could take a page from this campaign by McGarryBowen, part of Dentsu—launched this week.

  1.  Understand Your Unique Brand Promise.  Newtons were always about containing real fruit. That hasn’t changed. The packaging of the message has.
  2. Be Relevant.  Don’t stick with a name that doesn’t help you sell who you are. Consider your core values and those of your customers/donors/prospects.
  3. Be Different. If you want to stand out from the other “cookies”—don’t try to blend in. Dare to be different and flaunt it. The Newtons campaign avoids animation and other kid-targeted elements common in cookie ads.
  4. Your Market May Be Aging. Change with them. Give them new offerings that meet their needs, while still putting out a core product that can attract new, younger fans.
  5. Invest in Your Change. If you’re going to roll out a rebrand, you can’t just change your name and logo and hope the customers will follow. Of course you don’t have as much money as Nabisco, but every department involved in communicating to customers or donors or volunteers (which is pretty much everyone) needs to be briefed, vested, and ready to engage as a new brand.

 

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