How to Revive a Dying Product or Brand by Applying Design Research

Created August 26, 2020 The Business Value of Design

Sitting down on my laptop as I write this brought back memories of some great brands and products I remember from growing up. Brands and products like Nokia, Blockbusters, Toys ’R’ Us, CadburyTiffin. The question is actually what happened to them? Well, some ran out of business and filed for bankruptcy and others have been able to revive the old spark they once had around their offering and are fully operational now. 


If we take a deeper look at some of these brands from the 90s that failed, we realize a common factor was at play- loss of interest from customers. You’ll find that some of these products weren’t bad in and of themselves, for some, customers became bored with them and chose to move to other competitors, who offered something better and more exciting. This pushed brands who weren’t quick enough to adapt quickly, out of the market. A great example would be Blockbuster, due to the advent of digital and of more convenient online renting options, such as Netflix. Blockbuster was unable to meet the needs of their customers as they evolved and by the time they decided to switch models, it was too late. Netflix had captured a huge share of the movie rental market. You could read more about it in our article here

Interestingly, there are a few other companies that have been able to have a rebirth of their brands, seeing that they were previously overshadowed by their competition. These brands, however, were able to come back and deliver even better value than they once did. We see brands like Nokia and Apple as good examples when considering companies that were able to revive their brands.

So how does a dying brand reinvent itself?

For a company trying to reinvent its brand, there are major areas that should be considered. These areas are;

  1. Customers needs

  2. Market trends

Let’s begin with Customer Needs 

Every company exists to serve its customers. If there are no customers, then there will be no businesses. Beyond that, having a customer base to serve is not the only criteria for success. Going further to know what their needs are, and meeting them through pleasant experiences is key. Hence, it is so important that any company trying to gain market share or win the hearts of customers, strive to understand what those customer’s needs are. To help you do this well, it is advisable you use Design Research.

Design Research is an aspect of the design for users that looks into understanding customers’ behaviours and emotional drivers around a product or brand. It is a human-centred research approach that uses a variety of methods to understand underlying behaviour patterns and causes. Design Research gives uncommon perspectives and insights that will inspire companies towards decisions that improve overall brand value. With Design Research, you can go further, testing your assumptions by prototyping them with real users, to get their feedback.

Design Research is also important when you are looking to understand the market you are in as well. 


Market Trends

Looking at the market, it is important you understand the internal and external trends and influence that exist in it, as these help a company make great decisions regarding their business and the customers they serve, again Netflix is a great example of this, identifying the constantly advancing trend of technology and leveraging on it.

When looking to study the trends around the market, consider factors around policy, people, culture and technology, look into these areas to understand and draw insights for your product and brand. To successfully study these areas, Design Research cannot be overemphasized, especially for companies looking to reignite the passion their customers once had for their brand.

To be successful, either as a reviving brand or a continuing business, it is important that you consider carrying out Design Research as Uber Eats or Samsung did, in order to ensure the ultimate goal is reached. The ultimate goal being a revived brand with a huge customer and stakeholder buy-in.

Are you trying to revive a dying brand, what strategies are you employing to do so? Please feel free to share and ask us any questions around Design Research.


You might also find these articles interesting.

2020 Consumer Trends and Insights for FMCG Companies

Design Research And Its Impact On Product Performance



  • DODO admin

    Thomas Osume

    Design Strategist

    Loves design and how it improves lives and businesses

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