by Linda Perry

Remember this little pink ball from your childhood?

They sold it at Kmart and Toys R Us for about 99 cents and it was a staple toy for my older sister and me. I remember when it first came out – this little pink rubber ball about the size of a tennis ball with the name Pinky stamped across it. At first glance it seemed like nothing special until you went to bounce it. Bounce. Bounce. Whoa! The Pinky ball could bounce like nothing we played with before. My sister and I couldn’t wait to get outside and see who could get it to bounce higher (and who could keep the dog from stealing it on the way down).

It was the greatest way to spend a summer afternoon. And even though my teenage kids are convinced that I am older than dirt when I say that, the Pinky was one popular toy.

So much of the appeal came from simple branding.

It was small enough to be used by big kids and little ones. It was cheap. And it told you right on the front of the ball what it would do for you – Hi Bounce! Easy. And although the company probably made a lot of money on this little pink ball, like all fads, the pink ball gave way to the next big thing: Simon, Atari and the Cabbage Patch Doll.

So, imagine my amazement when I walked into my spa for a massage the other day, and there on the shelf was a basket full of pink childhood nostalgia.

I couldn’t believe it. Not only was I getting a massage, but the joy of re-discovering the Pinky ball from my youth made my day. But, wait, The Hi Bounce Pinky Ball here? They don’t expect me to bounce this thing in here do they? After all, even cell phones are forbidden.

Turns out, no. The Pinky Ball of my youth had become more grown up.

With a brand new price tag of $2.00 per ball, the Pinky ball was being marketed as a tool to help relieve sore and tense muscles. My one-time fun-time toy was now “ideal for physical therapy, rehabilitation and Pilates exercises.” It could now be used to massage hands, hips, feet, sore shoulders and back.

This perfect little toy got a makeover and a lift!

After a short giggle, this new spin on an old toy reminded me of the true power of branding. Never would I have thought that Pinky ball had any other use than fun. But, sitting before me on the shelf I marveled at how re-branding gave a little pink ball new life and new purpose.

And that’s really how it works. We all get stuck believing that we have to be who we’ve been all along – even if we’re aware that it’s no longer working for us. The company that owned this product recognized that even though kids these days might not be interested in buying a simple rubber ball – if you repurpose its original use – you have a second shot at the original market that made the ball a success in the first place.

Rebranding is about taking a good look at what you have and giving it a new identity. Sometimes it means changing the product or service; other times it means changing the way you talk about it. Good rebranding consists of constantly checking in with your ideal audience and finding out what is it that he or she needs now. And that’s important to remember; when you rebrand make sure that you do so in a way that maintains the integrity of the product and serves a real need. You don’t necessarily make a big shift.

Even if you didn’t own the Pinky as a kid, it’s attractive as an inexpensive roller that will relieve aches and pains. It’s useful. It serves a purpose. And – as is shown here, the rebranding doesn’t always have to abandon the original purpose. Although you can re-package and change the product – it was smart here to keep the original “Hi-Bounce” wording because, without saying anything more – you remind people that this little bouncy ball is all about fun.

Which is what the appeal of the ball is for me. After discovering the ball at my spa, I immediately took pictures and texted my sister. It was like a treasured part of our childhood had suddenly been found. I was hooked. All it took for me to buy one, was put it in front of my face where I could see it. Brilliant.

You too can use this principle in your business.

If you’re thinking about changing your message or even the services you offer, look to see how you can better serve the needs of your ideal client and then make some tweaks. Try new messages or ways to get in front of your ideal audience. You never know if just the simple placement reminds them you’re still here.

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