Picture this: You’ve just been hired as the CEO of the 21st-best perceived brand in America1. You enjoy such a strong reputation, in part, because of running one of the most iconic ad campaigns of the century. Your company’s sales were over $72 billion in the last year. Not to mention the brand recently expanded to 133 new stores in a new country. Sounds like a dream job, right?

Now let me paint the rest of the picture: Your brand was the 7th-best perceived brand in America last year1, dropping fourteen places. Those 133 new stores? You bought them. They’re next door in Canada and they’re bleeding cash at an incredible rate. Forty million credit card numbers were stolen from you on the busiest shopping day of the previous year. And what about that iconic ad campaign? It’s gone, and the ads that have replaced it haven’t been able to create the same effect. Suddenly, this dream job has the makings of a nightmare.

Which begs the question: Where do we go from here?

Luckily, there are answers. First of all, if you haven’t already guessed, we’re talking about Target during the summer of 2014. The mega-brand has taken initial steps on the road to recovery. The IT team closed the hole that allowed the data breach. Target’s execs calculated it would take at least 6 years for the Canadian stores to become profitable, so unfortunately they are all closing. That leaves fixing the advertising and brand perceptions.

To do so, Target can position itself for future success. But how can an iconic brand like Target, who has already proven it can reach consumers at such an emotional level, beat its own bar at recouping that beloved positioning it once had?

The answer is, by giving consumers a visual language with which to provide insights into where the brand can go from here. We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and it’s true: A single picture can communicate a thousand words worth of information and emotion. However, the inverse is also true, a word is worth a thousand pictures. For example, think of the word Love.

There are many ways to visually define love. Think of the love between a dog and owner, between a couple, a parent and child, etc.  If your brand is trying to stand for Love, which Love is it trying to stand for? The idea behind BrandScape is pretty simple: Show the consumer a montage of potential brand positions as stills and video clips and see what sticks. The outcome is nuanced and powerful.

In Target’s case, we sourced this visual language from several channels, including the stills and video clips through passive crowdsourcing of social media. (Many thanks to our partner in that effort, Lightspeed GMI.)

Additionally, we also carefully looked at Target’s position relative to its competitors: What can Target own that Walmart and Amazon.com, among others, can’t?

Here’s what we learned in words:

  1. Rediscover the fun, energy, and style that made their advertising and, ultimately their brand, so iconic in the first place. This position is still a strong one and can help rebuild the brand.
  2. Position the Target experience as a social shopping experience. To put it another way, Target is a place I want to shop with my friends. This is a position that Target’s competitors can’t own right now and it’s a growth edge for Target.

Want to learn more? Contact us.

1 Hoffman, Melissa (July 16, 2014). “Amazon has the Best Consumer Perception of Any Brand: Mid-year rankings show Target hit hard by data breach, TV viewing habits changing” www.adweek.com