When famous Malaysian biscuit brand Julie's decided to rebrand their iconic snacks over the pandemic, a first in 35 years, they knew there would be significant backlash. But as Sai Tzy Horng, its director says, if you are getting backlash, you are doing something right.
"Backlash tells us something and if you want to do something interesting and change the conversation, you need to expect it," said Sai who was speaking to a rapt audience at the second day of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's Content 360 event.
True enough, Julie's iconic rebrand in 2020 certainly turned heads (quite literally if you compare the logos) with many ardent fans at first protesting the significant change.
"We were constantly being told by our consumers and investors to leave the logo be and to not touch it when we reached out to them to get their views," said Sai who explained that because they have so many different markets, they had to reach out to get all their investors' views before coming up with an ultimate rebranding goal and direction.
"It's not very sexy but we had to ask our consumers and investors extensive questions and do comprehensive research," Sai said. "After all, rebranding is a one-time thing you do, and it is a continuous moving target with a growth process. If you are constantly rebranding, there are other problems in your business," he said with a laugh.
In an earlier interview with Julie's, Sai also told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that the brand went through a three-pronged, intensive research process. "Pre-branding, we cleaned up our portfolio and analysed the type of existing brand assets we already had. We also made sure that in the process of transformation, we [did] not forsake or shortchange ourselves," he said.
Julie's also spoke to consumer focus groups to see if the potential designs they were working on resonated with them. Sai said, "It was a very comprehensive process, we didn't rush it because we wanted to make sure this worked for everyone."
However, despite the caution with which longtime fans and investors approached the rebranding, Sai reminded the audience that branding should be bold:
In branding, you need to make fierce, confident and unapologetic decisions.
Julie's ended up spending close to SG$1 million for the entire project and the biscuit brand worked with Superunion for the global rebrand.
The rebrand itself though was more than just a change in logo. According to Sai, it was a whole process that aimed to breathe life into the brand.
"It's very important to not take yourself so seriously and so when we rebranded, we wanted to get rid of that by flipping the script," Sai said. "We wanted to empower the community, so we created ads that did just that."
Sai then proceeded to showcase two Hari Raya ads that challenged the idea that women belong in the kitchen and that divorced women have failed in some way, ideas that Julie's has been adamant to dispel as they look towards a more inclusive and diverse future.
"At the end of the day, branding is not a campaign. It's a commitment. And when you understand that you will succeed at it," said Sai.
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