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Oprah Magazine on Keeping it Fresh
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Here’s the thing; whenever anyone says words like “thinking outside the box” people normally turn the other way and laugh. It’s such an old branding term that it doesn’t feel relevant. And what does “thinking outside the box” even mean? If it’s that important, shouldn’t every brand be doing it? If every brand is doing it, then is there really such a need for these words? So instead of thinking "outside the box" many brands are using different words but keeping the idea the same. Except not keeping any of the ideas the same at all. Because that’s precisely what thinking outside the box signifies — pushing the standards, keeping customers interested, and changing for the sake of the business. So use whatever words that feel right, just make sure the ideating continues on. Sometimes with phrases like "be creative" and "grow the brand," businesses forget that this is an actual strategy that needs focus and attention. Because the minute a brand steps away or feels fine with the status quo, things change. Customers can find new brands, grow out of products, or just want something new and different. It’s not the words that are important but the ideas and strategies that are created from doing what they ask.

Oprah’s empire has not had the easiest time transitioning from daytime TV to its own network with new outlets. Sure, it wasn’t expected to produce positive earnings until 2014, but it sure wasn’t expected to teeter this much. Luckily the team at O Magazine understands this and is continuously working to “keep things fresh.” That sounds an awful lot like “thinking outside the box” and that’s exactly what it is. Each month the magazine’s cover is adorned with Oprah herself. This means each month the team needs to find new ways to create a cover that seems eye opening and interesting and different so readers don’t think they’ve already bought that issue. It’s a tough challenge but one that is seeing success with its September issue. This one focuses on hair, so the creative team shot the cover with Oprah wearing a wild wig of hair that weighs almost four pounds. It’s not the next hair craze, but it grabs the attention of busy shoppers and quickly lets them know the topic that is covered in the September issue. It’s different, it’s simple, and it’s keeping things fresh.

This doesn’t mean every brand needs to go out and purchase four-pound wigs. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Brands need to continuously challenge themselves to do things differently, look at things differently, and make sure they aren’t re-introducing the same idea over and over again. Customers prefer to be surprised and want brands to push them to see new things, try new things, and fall in love with the brand time and time again. It can be thinking outside the box or keeping it fresh, but whatever it is, make sure it focuses on challenging the brand to grow well into the future.


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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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