Success often resides somewhere in the past

This is about reimaging or revitalizing companies and brands. calls it Dormanidise but without the fancy name it is simply about resurrecting dormant attributes in a company.

Yes. Dormandise is an official consumer trend (as identified by trendwatching but by other names in other trend identifiers). And at its core Dormandise is exactly like other real trends (not fads) … it is about relevance.  Or maybe better said ‘finding relevance.’

The relevance in this case is about resurrecting dormant attributes in an existing company/brand that still have some appeal (just need to be dusted off and shined up a bit).

While this is something I love professionally the people at trendwatching have actually identified it as a global trend and given it a nifty catchy name – ‘Dormandise.’

I simply call it being good at resurrecting things that are dormant in the collective consumer conscience.


This is about believing that success often resides somewhere in the past.

This is all about something old and something new (and being relevant in the marketplace).

Oh.  And it’s not really that easy (or maybe better said it is easy to do this badly). The challenge to resurrect something old with reverence and apply it with relevance.
And this whole idea is what floats my strategy thinking boat. Well.  Actually (to be honest) this is easy for me.   (And it helps ASO has a process like Youniverse and Brand Enlightenment) which actually makes it even easier).

Maybe more importantly than I like doing this is that I also believe it is something a boatload of companies, brands, products or services need help with.

Sales are flagging and I am an old brand/company and how do I look new?!?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Sound familiar?

Most of the time it because the brand has simply lost relevance in consumers’ minds (it has nothing to do with being cool or uncool).

Maybe the best example I can think of is Adidas in the United States.

Huge popular brand in US years ago. Dropped off the face of the earth in the American consciousness (especially as Nike and Reebok stepped up).  Then someone stepped in and made them relevant again (part old school positioning and part ‘new relevant’ status).


VW?  Did the same.


Maybe the second best.


Whew. Someone really stepped up to the plate on this one. Someone fought the battle that “big blue ain’t that bad that we should throw it under the bus” (and I bet that was a tough discussion) and then threw in some nice human characteristics (some tongue in cheek relevant humor) and all of a sudden IBM (which had one foot in the grave perceptionwise) became relevant all over again.  They didn’t throw away all their old characteristics (in fact they kind of suggested that an aspect of their oldness was good) and simply started adding on relevant “todaylike” characteristics.

(note: I have a laundry list of brands/companies that I personally have worked on)

But please note.

The failure list is extensive. Resurrecting, or renovating, a brand to revitalize it in the marketplace and make it relevant again is a tricky path.

It isn’t easy.

Because it is just easy to look old.  Or worse … look old trying to be cool (think the middle aged crisis guy who is almost laughably sad to look at).

Please notice.

This trend is about companies that have been in business 25 years or more (so we are talking about companies who have some heritage).

Dormandise is all about diving into a company’s history and retrieving as many discontinued attributes and perceptions, and maybe even a product or two (or a forgotten/overlooked brand) and revitalize them.

I often find that people spend so much time trying to find something “new” and “revolutional” and they overlook something older that just needs to be pulled off the shelf and shined up a bit.
Whatever the reason for the brand fading away or disappearing or losing its relevance (blame mergers, globalization, mismanagement, stagnant thinking, poor strategic repositioning, or whatever), Dormandise represents a real value.  Imagine the gazillions you could save by not having to create instant name recognition amongst tens of millions of skeptical twenty, thirty or forty-somethings.

Conveniently, with a shaky economy, joblessness up, and insecurity being a constant in today’s consumer world, and with most corporations shy away from spending money on massive new brand and product introductions anyway consumers are waxing nostalgic for long-gone better days. All of these represent a great opportunity for a company with some heritage.
Now. About Dormandise.

Some people may call this re-imaging (I know I have in the past).

And re-imaging is an appropriate term because reimaging is NOT about re-inventing an organization but rather assembling characteristics or attributes and then repackaging them, or highlighting something, to make people look at the organization in a different way.

The simple truth is that successful re-imaging typically resides in the past. Gathering up characteristics that made that company successful in the past and simply reminding the internal company and the external constituents all the reasons why that organization was “liked” in the first place.

Another truth is that sometimes re-imaging is simply a process of “clarity”, i.e., insuring that people clearly understand what the organization does, believes and stands for. This may seem simplistic or irrelevant but I often find, particularly with B2B focused, organizations focus so much on customer service and features & benefits to differentiate themselves they have lost sight of the value of a higher order positioning in creating value and distinctness.


In the end re-imaging doesn’t mean new perceptions cannot be ‘attached’ to existing attributes it simply means that it is:

(1) Easier if the desired image/identity is leveraged from something existing (think heritage again), and

(2) More believable to internal & external audiences if as many existing perceptions/attitudes are utilized as possible (so old is good here too).

This means someone who takes on this challenge has to have:

–          a core competency of reimaging brands and creating a consumer attitudinal (leading to behavioral) change

–          a process that works best with companies who have a larger existing base of perceptions & attitudes from which to draw upon (because some agencies just have processes that focus on ‘what will be’ and consumer trends and trying to take an educated fortune teller recommendation)

Yes. It takes a disciplined process (or let’s say it helps a lot) which effectively recognizes and identifies dormant-like meaningful characteristics.  And it also takes people who are in tune to uncovering insights using the findings (because many people just focus on the new shiny objects). And, lastly, success is dependent upon knowing how to use those insights to make the brand relevant and increase sales.  Candidly not every ad agency has all three of these things.  And this is kind of the formula for success with this trend.


Two thoughts to end the business side of this article.

1.       People often forget that success often resides somewhere in your past (if you look hard enough). It is all about pushing off from some past strength and leaping forward in a relevant way. Anyone who doesn’t want to looks backwards at all (the infamous “that information is dated” comment) will not understand or benefit from this trend.

2.        I love this trend. I love this strategic approach. It’s like putting a puzzle together using a lot of existing pieces but at the end having it look slightly different than it did when it was put together previously.  It is simply showing people what was already there but helping them look at it differently. Plus (frankly).   It is always easier to edit then create.

So.  Find someone to dormandise.  It’s fun.  And it can create some amazing sales results.


Some life stuff as I think about “success often resides in the past.”

I don’t mean this as living in the past or focusing on regrets or anything like that. What I mean is that sometimes ignoring your past is silly.  Doesn’t mean it is easy to look back and grab onto something but often it is good to look back and ‘pull something off the shelf and dust it off and shine it up a bit.’ Could it be a regret you have an opportunity to ‘un-regret’? Is it a success you had that you have forgotten or overlooked as ‘something that was then but not important now’? Is it something you tried & failed at and decided to not try again for fear of failing again. It could be anything. And it could be something that you honestly have forgotten about as ‘today’ has overtaken your life and you just try and keep your head above water.

Well. Just like I pointed out in the business section just keeping your head above water often means treading water.  Which is tiring and, frankly, just marking time before you eventually drown. Yeah. Its sink or swim.  So I guess the point here on this is if you feel like you are treading water in your life and you want to ‘revitalize’ your life maybe take a minute or two and look back. Sometimes the way forward begins by taking something from your past and dusting it off.

Maybe it sounds strange but I think we all re-image ourselves on occasion.  Or we want to.  Or we try to. And it is okay to do it.  But remember … re-imaging means changing some things.  But maybe change doesn’t mean throwing everything away but rather reusing some things from the past in a different way – using them with knowldge you didn’t have then.

Regardless. Dormandising is a good trend for everyone to think about.

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Written by Bruce