Rebranding vs Repositioning

When companies decide to perform a makeover there are a couple of ways it can happen.  Simple makeovers like rolling out a new service, can be subtle, while other makeovers can bring dramatic change.

Take the two following companies: JCPenny (aka JCP) and Taco Bell.  One company appears to be going through a rebranding metamorphosis while the other is hoping to upgrade their image into a higher class restaurant.

JCPenny (aka JCP): Last week I was having a conversation with someone and was quickly corrected when I said, “JC Penny.”  The person stated, “No, it’s now jcp.”  Later in the week, I saw one of their new commercials in which the company refers to itself as jcp.

The company has done more than just update their logo and shorten their name, in fact two of their most recent removals have caused some buzz:

  • Goodbye Coupons: No more coupon cutting to get deals at jcp.  The company decided to stop coupons and embrace a simple pricing scheme for sales.  This also included the removal of .99 cent pricing and “Every day” low prices.
  • So Long Cashiers…sort of: The idea of a cashier behind a cash register is being removed from the new jcp.  The staff at jcp will start carrying mobile devices that have credit card readers.  This will allow customers to check out anywhere instead of waiting in designated lines.

Both of these ideas stem from jcp’s new CEO, Ron Johnson.  Mr. Johnson found success with this with his former employer Apple, and even though Apple has seen success with this in their retail stores, these two changes at jcp have been criticized by competitors and long-time jcp customers.

On a positive note, not all changes have been cloaked with negative feedback.  In fact, one change has caught the attention of competitor Macy’s.  In September, Business Insider reported that Macy’s liked the idea of jcp “transforming itself into a into a collection of 100 shops within its large department stores.”

Let’s hope the short-term pains will result in long-term success for the clothing chain.

Taco Bell: For the past few months Taco Bell has been taking a stronger approach to shifting the image of their food.  “Fast Food” in general has a negative impression that it is not a high quality meal nor do people perceive the food as healthy.

Taco Bell has taken a two-punch combo to address these two impressions.

  • The Fresco Menu: People may not realize it, but Taco Bell has had a healthy choose menu they call Fresco.  The Drive Thru Diet® has been available for a number of years, but now Taco Bell has increased it’s in-store and drive-thru advertising of this menu line.
  • The Cantina Bell™ Menu: Taco Bell has kicked it up a notch by hiring celebrity chef Lorena Garcia to create and promote their new gourmet line, the Cantina Bell™.  Currently there are only three items on the Cantina Bell™ menu, but Taco Bell plans on expanding it due to it’s success and popularity.

Taco Bell hopes this will help position them to compete with Chipolte, and so far, it appears to be working.  In fact, investor David Einhorn has added Chipolte to a short sale list due to Taco Bell’s aggressive movement into the high quality/gourmet approach.

Hopefully these two companies will see long term success with their different approaches to shake up their organizations and their respective industries.  Who knows, maybe Taco Bell will become one of the shops in jcp…as long as your bean burrito doesn’t ruin any unsold Levi jeans.


About Jeremy M. Price
For twelve years, I had the pleasure of working in community banking. Starting in customer service, I worked my way up to a senior level marketing and human resources director. It was great leading teams that improved strategic initiatives including, but not limited to brand awareness, digital communication, employee development and product development. This experience has now led to an exciting role with CRS Data. As the Product Marketing Analyst, I am currently reviewing the company's banker suite product. This product is able to help community banks reach their fullest potential in real estate lending. I am extremely fortunate to share time with my son while enjoying life in East Tennessee. The two of us enjoy the views of the Smokey Mountains, eating good food and having fun. During my free time, I enjoy running races, traveling and listening to great live music.

One Response to Rebranding vs Repositioning

  1. Pingback: Alienating Your Fans | JuMP Around

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