In marketing classes as an undergraduate, I studied how strong branding can sometimes worsen sales. Certainly one expects to avoid distrusted brands. Windows Vista has to masquerade as Mojave to even get people to look at it, and ValuJet had to rebrand itself as AirTran after a fatal crash in 1996.
More interesting are trusted brands that still apply poorly to new products. In class, the first example was the hypothetical “Campbell’s tomato sauce.” Campbell’s is a respected name in soup, but that makes it too easy to imagine their tomato soup, which wouldn’t go well on pasta. Hence, the Campbell Soup Company uses the name Prego to sell sauces.
Country Crock needs to study this concept in detail. They sent me a coupon for their “new to me” line of Side Dishes, such as the essential Four Cheese Pasta. I’ll buy just about any multi-cheese invention, but unfortunately for Country Crock they’ve packaged the meal in exactly the same format as their famous “spread” (i.e., butter substitue). Looking at it, I can’t stop picturing myself eating an entire tub of butter with a spoon, and I get a lot less hungry.
(I’m making myself try it anyway in my next Peapod order to give them a fair chance, but they’re starting off with some heavy negative marks in the “appetizing” category.)