The White Rose Marketing office is in Harlem, a neighborhood once known as a remote, garden-esqe suburb type place to its original Dutch settlers. It is quite interesting to reflect on how the changes that are happening here in Harlem are like the evolution of brands. The word Harlem derives from the name of a Dutch town (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haarlem). The early part of the 20th century begat significant change in America as the newly freed black American population migrated out of the south, the industrial revolution kicked off in the Midwest and women’s suffrage became a reality! At this point, the feel of Harlem began to change. And as the neighborhood changed into a place known for African American culture, the initial re-branding happened. Haarlem which looks overtly Dutch simply became Harlem.
In NYC, it is the norm to name neighborhoods as specifically as possible. Which is how we get titles such as TriBeCa (the Triangle Below Canal Street) and SoHo (South of Houston). The same occurred in Harlem. For example, within Harlem, New Yorkers generally specify ‘East Harlem’ which is also known as el Barrio or Spanish Harlem. The branding of these neighborhoods is based on changes in the population. More recently, Harlem is undergoing another significant shift. A neighborhood that was once home to a drug crisis has been cleaned up and made safe which makes it a suitable place to live for people who for many reasons would have never considered living in Harlem in the past. Along with this change comes the desire to re-brand. Some people have taken to calling the gentrified area in the southern section of Harlem ‘South Harlem’ or SoHa to differentiate it from the section that has yet to be gentrified.
As interesting as this is to watch on a daily basis, it is even more interesting from a marketing perspective.
The reality is that as time goes on, businesses evolve and as marketing is a business function, it too has to evolve. This evolution of businesses is what causes brand evolution or re-branding. Can you think of large brands that have evolved over time? What about Kentucky Fried Chicken becoming KFC? How about MacIntosh becoming Apple? Did you know that Accenture is the reinvented Arthur Andersen? In the same way the political happenings of the late 19th and early 20th centuries caused a shift in Harlem’s population and therefore it’s brand, the history of these companies required them to restate who they are and reintroduce themselves to their respective audiences.
Whether you are in the market to re-brand or establish a brand, the following steps can help you develop a strong brand:
1. Make sure that your new narrative is supportive of the brand you are looking to build.
2. Which attributes of your product portfolio support the brand you are looking to build? Amplify the ones that do, play down the ones that don’t.
3. Will the change in brand name or logo resonate with the consumers you are looking to gain? Will it alienate your current consumers?
Consider utilizing the power of re-branding to strengthen a shared identity and spark positive change within your business.