Alienating Your Fans

ClarkIn January, the Chicago Cubs announced they will be introducing a new mascot named Clark.  The announcement received mixed reviews that created a firestorm of comments on social media sites, sports focused websites, sports talk radio and other communication outlets.

It even caused one of my friends to make the following post on facebook:

John Clark Post

Which eventually led to this:

Pirates Jersey

The Chicago Cubs organization believes the new mascot will lead more families to Wrigley Field, which will lead to increased ticket sales and build brand loyalty to a new, young group; but will it work?

Anytime a company decides to make a change: update a logo or do a complete overhaul of their brand, there is bound to be a backlash.  A company has to decide how much they’re willing to pay for a change by examining the short term and long term impacts.

Price and Reward

short long arrowsBefore making a change, think about what it will cost you in the short term and how that will impact long term success.

Short Term Cost: Before a change is made, a company has to spend time to make sure the change works.

  • Time spent internally pulling the right resources together to develop the change.
  • Cost associated with researching to make sure change is worth it.
  • Assets used announcing the change, both within the company and to the public.
  • Potential loss of profit due to upset customers who decide to shop elsewhere.

Though these points are labeled “short term” they can lead to long term issues.  For example, if the change is so big and confusing, it can take years to effectively communicate the change to your customers.

What benefits will change bring?

  • Possibility of improved customer service and an increase in customer satisfaction
  • Increased repeat business from current customers
  • Brand new customers

The important thing is to make sure the company can survive the short term pitfalls so it can reap the long term benefits.

JCP

One real life example is JCPenny.  In 2012, the company tried to change it’s image from a store where coupons and everyday sales were the norm, to a store that had simple pricing. The change was big, JCPenny not only spent money changing their stores, but created a huge national TV campaign bragging about the changes, and essentially recreated their brand.

This had a negative impact on live long shoppers of JCPenny and created huge hurdles that the company couldn’t conquer.  People went to social media to complain, and the constant negative word of mouth reactions led to JCPenny to back peddle and go back to their old ways.

In the long-run, a strategy like that works on paper, but the backlash from their fan base led to short term losses that were so bad, JCPenny fired their new CEO and brought back the old regime.

So will the new mascot for the Cubs be worth it, or will it end up like the JCP’s simple pricing structure?

Have you

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