Losing Control of Your Brand is the Greatest Thing That Can Happen
Three brands that lost control and reaped the rewards.
Losing control of your brand can be scary, especially if it’s a new audience that’s taking control of the steering wheel. But sometimes you have to just let go, and see where they take you. It could be the difference between being seen as a brand that’s past its prime or a brand that can evolve with its audience and reinvent itself for the future. Here are some brands that did it and it was a huge success.
PABST BLUE RIBBON
Except for that whole Prohibition thing, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer had been a staple of American beer halls since 1844. Selected as America’s Best beer in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, PBR sales peaked in 1977 at 18 million barrels, but from there slowly declined until it was just another old American-style lager from Milwaukee with sales below a million barrels in 2001. The whole time the head honchos at PBR never changed their formula or look.
It turned out they didn’t need to. Sometime in the early ‘00s hipsters in Brooklyn and Silver Lake started drinking it. PBR trucker hats popped up in pictures from SXSW. Whether it was ironic or not, PBR’s marketing leaders embraced it and the beer became synonymous with hipster dive bars and block parties. A quick look at the official PBR website shows how far they’ve allowed the young, hip, and probably-never-been-to-Milwaukee take over their brand. It also shows how vibrant they made something that looked like it was going to Schlitz.
White Castle is famous for pioneering the slider, which Time magazine called the most influential burger of all time in 2014. With the distinctive “white castle” architecture of some of the original locations and affordable prices, when most people think of White Castle they think of a quick family outing for a bite to eat.
But a 24-hour restaurant that serves sliders is always going to attract a certain kind of clientele. The kind that may have had a few too many brewskis or an extra dose of “medical marijuana”. Instead of trying to downplay the Craver culture that would routinely pack White Castle parking lots after bar close, White Castle embraced it. They even went as far as to license their name for a stoner film that’s pretty unfamily friendly: Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. The result? People who can’t even go to White Castle (anywhere outside the Midwest and New York) not only know the brand, they might even crave it.
For 42 years Plasti Dip was known as a way to coat and cover metal tool handles. Then in 2011 the brand discovered that some customers had found a new use for it ⎯ dipping cars to customize the color and appearance. There was a whole underground community of people passionately using Plasti Dip in a way the company never expected, and sharing their projects on YouTube and Instagram for anyone to see.
Plasti Dip had to figure out what they should do with these enthusiasts running away with their brand. Enter Kruskopf & Company. Rather than ignoring these customers KC advised Plasti Dip to embrace them, going so far as coining the name Dipheads, while staying true to the Plasti Dip brand. You know what? The Dipheads loved it. Using that passion as a foundation, KC helped Plasti Dip create a space for the community to gather online. With more than 15,000 monthly active viewers on the DipheadsUnite website, 62,000 Facebook fans, and more than half a million uses of #PlastiDip on Instagram the community is bigger than ever.
There are times when your brand gets away from you and it’s not great. But with social media and the word-of-mouthiness that the internet provides it could really be beneficial for you if your brand gets out of your control. So let go, then call us and we’ll help you navigate.