Own Your Weaknesses, Now Go Fix Them

I’m sure you’ve heard it before — not all companies want to be saved. Sometimes coming to terms with this truth feels more painful than a relationship breakup. This week JC Penney released its new, very honest, advertisement admitting that consumers hate the brand and asking that consumers like them again.

We owe JC Penney a lot of respect for even taking this approach. So many brands pretend their problems do not exist. Much like a relationship, many brands never come to terms with what went wrong.

Call it fear, refusal to think outside the box, inability to think inside the box, or just inability to accept the truth — some brands don’t know how to change. Many don’t want to. Sure, they’ll bring on new talent, hire a new agency, or even bring in new top-level executives to steer the future in a new direction. At the end of the day, though, creativity is crushed and boundaries remain untouched.

Look at Old Spice. The company has been around since 1938 and remained fairly relevant until the 1970s. In 1990 its owner, Shulton Co. sold the brand to Procter & Gamble. With that P&G revitalized Old Spice’s logo, scent, and target audience. It launched “Old Spice Man” as its new mascot to promote the slogan, “If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist.” Bravo Old Spice!

Another great example is Keds. Started in 1916, Keds sneakers were at the height of their popularity back in the ’70s and ’80s. By the mid-90s they were virtually obsolete. A decade or so later they reemerged and this time as a fun and flirty fashion must-have for women, thanks to the help of designer Nanette Lepore. The company extended its creativity by allowing for the creativity of its consumers. Keds lovers can log online and design their own pair of Keds or even choose a favorite of country star Taylor Swift. Today the company is alive and well.

I say be bold and stand out. Be bold by admitting your weaknesses and addressing them. Don’t run and hide. Own your weaknesses! Now go fix them.

This post, written by me, was originally published by Beneath the Brand on May 2, 2013.