Timing Out : When Brands Need to Say Goodbye

Timing OutWe have often talked about the emotional bond that brands create with consumers and how it is their raison d’etre. The flip side and perhaps also the down side is the emotional bond that brands form with their creators and managers. Several brand managers and businesses have been guilty of stretching brands beyond, well beyond their limit.

So how does one really know that it’s time? Unfortunately there are no easy answers.  However, we do have some lead indicators that emerge from collective wisdom and common sense. Brands are tricky, we all know that. There is no single definition of brand success.

I for one come from the school of thinking that professes and propagates that brands exist for the sole reason of making businesses uniquely identifiable and profitable. Therefore, true brand measures ought to have blended business metrics.
Coming back. What should we as marketers look out for?

brand healthThe best metrics are invariably those that are rooted in market context. After all reality is a key requirement for a reality check!
Brands typically monitor and map their performance on the following dimensions (or similar)

• Recall (Memorability)
• Perceived Quality (Premium)
• Revenue Share (Significance)
• Profit Share (Viability)
• Voice Share (Visibility)
• Relevance (Utility)
• Engagement (Sociability)

The seed of this post came from a recent news item that announced the winding down of HMT watches. A brand that was anchored in a nations pride and one that definitely made a mark with atleast two generations of independent India.

If one were to put the above parameters together to construct a health radar, HMT watches one would have seen the brand perform poorly on all of these parameters not today but over atleast a 10 year period.

HMT Watches Financials

The call to wind down should perhaps been taken long ago instead of allowing the brand to bleed to death. One may argue that it’s the either the fate or fortune of Public Sector companies in India that the get such extended runs. Fortune because the being a Public Sector Undertaking means a long leash and fate because the long leash often means inaction.

HMT watches is not the only example of brands dying slow painful deaths and for sure the phenomenon is not limited to the public sector alone.

Ambassador another memorable brand owned by Hindustan Motors remained active albeit propped up by its “taxi” and “state vehicle” tag. Long after it had faded the brand managers wanted to give it a might heave with a souped-up version christened Amberoid till reality bit them!


There are bound to be ups and downs in every brands life. The revival, rejuvenation plans should kick into place while most of the markers on the Health radar are still in the pink. It is for the businesses to decide basis their “strategy”. The answers can only emerge from the ability to impact the multiple dimensions enlisted above.
As they say,  “An honourable exit is saying goodbye while there are more people asking why rather than why not!”