Brand ‘Amy Williams’ loses its lustre

Mar 16, 2014 by Mark Baines Category: Marketing 0 comments

During the Winter Olympics I tuned in my TV to Sochi, hoping to be amused by more British near-misses fussed over by our fragrant english rose Claire Balding, when up pops a complete stranger who Claire introduces as ‘Amy Williams’.

Now I’ve grown accustomed to hearing about Amy on the telly and in the papers, opening supermarkets, commenting on the Skeleton and the like. Her curly flowing mane of hair used to make her instantly recognisable amongst a crowd of no-name ‘personalities’ and commentators.

But I didn’t recognise this Amy Williams. There was something vaguely familiar about her, and it took me a while to realise that it was indeed our Amy – only she’d had her hair straightened.

What a disaster! One grip of the hairdresser’s straighteners had undone four years of hard work, developing a successful brand, loved and admired in households across Britain, which presumably is all that stood between Amy as a busy, rich Gold medal winner and a place in the rat race along with the rest of us.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t begrudge her the style or look, after all she’s growing up and probably wants to leave childish things behind.

But she has failed to differentiate between Amy Williams as a person and Amy Williams as a brand. Apart from the fact that she’s something of a national treasure – our first Winter Olympics Gold in centuries – it is her meal ticket. Her appearance, of which her wild hair was a key part, was central to recognising and remembering her.

People like Amy are brands, just as much as Heinz or Virgin. If Virgin changed their brand colour from red to blue and their font to Helvetica, people simply wouldn’t recognise it. Brand equity would be hugely damaged. But Virgin could win it back, because people continue to buy their products. Amy, on the other hand, will never again win Gold. And if no-one recognises her, why should I get her to open my supermarket, or have her on my TV show?

Jessica Ennis has risked the same by adding ‘-Hill’ to her name. But it’s not so radical and she will continue to compete once she’s had her baby.

But Amy is going to have to work really, really hard to win back that brand equity which she threw away with her curls!

Bad move Amy!

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