Insights & News

Zombie Brands – Innovate or Die

In this spooky time of the year, we decided to look into the manager’s darkest fear – having their brand die a messy and horrible death. It doesn’t only happen in horror movies, any brand can meet a sticky end. Even world giants can make mistakes and fade away. We saw it with Google Plus and Google glasses.

The crucial survival kit for businesses is adaptation and unless it’s done properly, they have a huge probability to fail and just die. The success of the modern business relies on the quality of execution, building the brand’s image and adapting to marketing challenges brought by digital and new advertising channels.” – Marius Ivanovas, Httpool VP for International Partnerships

A Polaroid of my DeLorean

Gen Z is deprived of at least one visit from the past. Marty McFly and Doc only went as far into the future as 2015 and this year already seems like history. So does DeLorean. The gull-winged doors of this car made it super popular in the 1980’s, but its poor performance was an overall disappointment and delivered a quick death to the brand. Some brands die a quick death, some are not so lucky.

Once a high-tech success story in the USA, Polaroid won the world over in the 1970’s with the SY-70 camera. This marvel produced photos that developed as you watched. How exciting! But what became more exciting at the turn of the millennium was digital photography. Polaroid leaders refused to believe that digital could ever replace paper print. They could not have been more wrong. In 2001 the company filed for bankruptcy. Having been resting in its grave for almost two decades the ghost of Polaroid might, however, come back to those who feel nostalgic about instant photos or others who think retro is cool. Hipsters, beware!

Another tech giant that suffered a similar fate was Nokia. Being the first in the world to create a cellular network, nobody could resist buying a Nokia phone (Snake game included!) in the early 2000s. Then came the internet. Many mobile companies started predicting that voice calls were no longer the future of telecommunications and started to work on software. Nokia focused on hardware, not daring to lead a drastic change in user experience. Overestimating the power of their brand and a slow and messy innovation process made Nokia weak. The launch of the first iPhone in 2007 put arsenic into Nokia’s tea and let it slowly fall into a deep sleep. BlackBerry met a similar fate, refusing to understand the importance of user experience and stubbornly clinging onto what they had. Unfortunately, what they did have was outdated and in 2017, BlackBerry announced that the brand would exit the smartphone manufacturing business. R.I.P.

If the appearance of internet was the main poison of Polaroid, Nokia and BlackBerry, it cannot be blamed for all catastrophes. MySpace was the king of social networking platforms for teens between 2005 and 2008. Then, a prince called Facebook came to town. MySpace couldn’t keep up with the quick changes and demanding users. The platform tried to develop everything and everything in-house. Combined with some strategic hiccups, this led MySpace to struggle for revenues. A deal with Google and overwhelming the site with ads did not help. The company was finally sold in 2011, then resold two more times. MySpace continues to kick, but probably more like a zombie than a live brand.

Digital advertising: Survival of the fittest

Many brands are born every day. Some become local heroes, some become global stars. But even world fame cannot save brands from failing, disappointing, underperforming and ultimately, dying. The cause of death, in majority of cases, is lack of innovation and the ultimate guillotine is seems to be not keeping up with the change of times.

In the digital age, these two elements are even more important as everything moves way faster than ever before. Constant innovation and learning remain keys to the good health of brands, products, and services. Digital advertising is no different. Only those that know how to use cutting edge technology and have the latest knowledge can achieve top results. In a changing world, when we’re bombarded with information, this might feel impossible to do. When machines are (almost) replacing humans, we have to constantly strive for a perfect balance between cutting-edge software and top expertise.