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Four iconic brands that reinvented themselves

Keeping a brand fresh
David Nevata | Getty Images

Even well-known brands need a refresh now and then.

"What worked in connecting with your dad is exactly the opposite of what will work with you," said Mark DiMassimo, CEO of ad agency DiMassimo Goldstein (DIGO Brands). "Brands need to change because the target audience changes, and new ones need to be born every time. Success with one generation can actually make it harder to create success with a new generation."

It's easier said than done: Less than 1 in 10 companies have a successful brand reboot, according to DiMassimo.

Click ahead to see examples of companies that are trying to reinvent themselves for a new generation of shoppers.

By CNBC's Michelle Castillo
Posted 22 Dec. 2015

Old Spice
Source: Old Spice

After losing ground in the young men's deodorant/antiperspirant category, Procter & Gamble realized it was time to move beyond the classic Old Spice sailor imagery, like the logo from 1966 on the left.

"We recognized that the grooming category had shifted and that product performance was no longer enough," said Bill Brace, P&G vice president of North American skin and personal care. "With young guys moving to more expressive scents, we needed to forge an emotional connection with our target."

In 2006, Old Spice created a zany, over-the-top advertising campaign featuring actor Bruce Campbell. Almost immediately, sales of the brand picked up, closing a more than 4 percent gap in dollar market share compared with its rivals.

Old Spice
Gabriel Olsen | FilmMagic

Today, Old Spice is the largest brand in its category, with a 28-point share of the market as of November 2015, according to Nielsen xAOC.

Old Spice has continued the momentum by adding more spokesmen with outrageous personalities including Terry Crews and Will Ferrell. Most people remember Isaiah Mustafa, who was featured in the 2010 "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" ads.

The current campaign, "Make a Smellmitment," has been viewed more than 31 million times on YouTube since it debuted in August. The brand currently has upward of 500 million YouTube subscribers.

"Guys often only think about deodorant when they need it," P&G's Brace said. "What that means for Old Spice is that the competition isn't just other deodorant brands, it's everything out there that can command a guy's attention, from YouTube clips to video games to mobile apps. ... We've built a reputation for creating engaging and entertaining content that is celebrated and shared. This has helped us build one of the most loyal fan bases in the category."

Kelley Blue Book
Source: KBB.com

Generations know Kelley Blue Book as a pricing guide for used cars. However, with information easily accessible on the Internet, the company realized it had to prove it still had utility for today's millennial.

"KBB is an iconic brand that has been around for almost 90 years, but I think perceptions of the brand and what it represents and the value that it brings to consumers is outdated," said Dan Cullen, senior director of marketing at Kelley Blue Book.

To update its image, the company launched an ad campaign online this year to show how it could help those in the market for old and new cars.

Kelley Blue Book
Source: KBB.com

The new KBB digital campaign has driven a little under 5.2 million visits and 26.8 million page views to its website, as of last week. The company's research shows that since the campaign launched, there's been an 18 percent increase in consumer intent to visit KBB for new truck recommendations.

"In order for the company to be successful going forward, we have to be the trusted resource for the generations of people who didn't grow up with the brand," Cullen said.

KFC
KFC Original Colonel Sanders circa 1966
Source: KFC

Fried chicken may seem like a timeless classic, but through many internal studies, Yum Brands' KFC noticed that consumers' preferences had changed.

Older generations prefer chicken on the bone, but when it comes to millennials, half opted for chicken sandwiches, and 20 percent liked tenders and nuggets. Only 18 percent wanted drumsticks and other boned meat. Millennials also hated not having dipping sauces and were more likely to snack than just have three solid meals a day, a stark contrast to baby boomers.

"Clearly, if we want to win with younger people, we're going to have to evolve our menu over time," said Kevin Hochman, chief marketing officer at KFC. "It's no longer sufficient just to have the chicken."

KFC
Source: KFC

To get KFC to align with millennial tastes, the quick-service restaurant looked at what originally worked for the company: turning every occasion into a chicken-selling holiday. Its new ads cheekily boast that National Kale Day and Mother's Day — which happens to be the best-selling day of the year for the company — are perfect times to buy KFC.

It also revamped its menu to include less messy items for millennials who want eat something on the go, and introduced smaller meals like "$5 Fill Up" boxes.

To keep from alienating its core customers, KFC drew inspiration from its classic ads. That included bringing back Colonel Sanders.

"You see a lot of brands change as their users change," Hochman said. "Not only do you lose the young consumer because you don't seem authentic but you lose your core audience as well."

The campaign seems to be working. Based on third-quarter earnings, KFC said its system sales increased 6 percent, driven by 3 percent unit growth and a 3 percent rise in same-store sales. Operating profit increased 3 percent as well.

YP
Newscast | UIG | Getty Images

Most people remember flipping through the Yellow Pages to find a phone number. Today, millennials search for what they need on their mobile phones.

To restart the conversation, the company changed its name to "YP" in 2013.

"We needed to change the name to reflect that how we do it is different to reflect the changing times," said Allison Checchi, YP's chief marketing officer. "The name reflects the underlying transition of keeping who we are but embracing now."

The company honed in on grassroots efforts through local sponsorships and events to spread the word that it could help businesses find customers on and offline. It also created digital videos with spokespeople like ESPN anchor Hannah Storm and former E! News anchor and reality TV show stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic talking about their favorite local businesses.

"We took a different business-to-business tactic," said Checchi. "We thought, 'How do you take a brand that has an association with the Yellow Pages, but prove that you're different?'"

YP
Source: YP.com

So far, YP's content has been viewed more than 14 million times on its YouTube channel, which, according to the company, is 27 percent more views than the industry average for similar content.

Its efforts led to a 22 percent increase in awareness for YP.com.

The goal was to show local businesses that the consumer buying journey today is complex, and YP could help them create a full strategy on and offline, Checchi said.

"We are there to be an advisor and a consultant and to put a full program together. That can include the print Yellow Pages, but that also includes everywhere a customer needs to be," she said.