Defense

Oprah’s Branding Challenge

25 May , 2011  

Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most gifted brand builders; over the years she has demonstrated her ability to create and build a truly remarkable brand.

But she now faces a rather big challenge: evolving her brand.

Today Oprah signed off, ending her run as a daytime talk show host. In branding terms, she just shut down her core business.

What happens now to Brand Oprah?

There is every reason to believe Oprah will try to reinvent her brand, transforming it into something beyond the icon it currently is. At the end of her show today she notably didn’t say farewell, she simply said “Until we meet again.” Oprah doesn’t intend to go away.

Of course, reinventing a brand is difficult, especially when the core business isn’t running any more. A strong brand like Oprah has a clear set of associations; this is a source of strength but also a limitation. Oprah is most firmly associated with the thing she no longer does, host a daytime show.

I suspect Oprah will struggle to define her new brand and bring it to life. And she will surely be tempted to play off and reinforce the brand she had. The easy road would be to launch a new talk show, but I can’t image that is what she has in mind.

Oprah has shown that she can create and build a great brand. It will be interesting to watch her navigate this next and perhaps more difficult phase.



One Response

  1. Yuri says:

    Really? She has a huge brand presence. If I could define Brand Oprah it would be “In the Service of the People” since 1986. She could move into anything, from causes, to politics, to starting product/technologies, as long as she stays close to helping people. As a connector, the ultimate LinkedIn preson, she has a lot of flexibility. Her achilles heel may be her Global brand. Not sure if Oprah is relevant outside the US.

Leave a Reply

Archives

Conversation Across the Site

  • jnemery { Well, you are right about the relationships, but you are wrong about the hogs not being better. A 4-H hog is hand-raised, the feed carefully... } – Learning from a 4-H Market Pig Auction
  • Anne { As soon as I found out Clorox bought Burt's Bees I knew they were going to start polluting the products! Come on...it's Clorox. Why would... } – Clorox Stumbles with Burt's Bees
  • emitahill { That's a devastating story and just as many smaller dairy farms are shutting down. Read Madeleine's story about Leelanau Cheese on FB. It will be... } – Fair Oaks Deals With a Brand Crisis
  • davetuchler { Horrifying story. Immediately brought to mind Boeing (737 MAX) and Vale (failed dams) -- loss of human lives, made more tragic by corporate indifference, incompetence,... } – UNC Health Care’s Brand Crisis
  • Sat Ganesha S. Khalsa { I postulate this happens at ALL organizations, an organization does not arrive at a tragedy of this proportion without signals, many signals. Yes, there is... } – UNC Health Care’s Brand Crisis
  • emita Hill { A tragic story and yes, clumsily handled. } – UNC Health Care’s Brand Crisis
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.