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.