Friday, September 25, 2015

3 Things Bojack Horseman Taught Us About Rebranding

On August 22, 2014, Netflix released what would soon become one of its most popular originals: Bojack Horseman. Bojack, a washed up actor with mild depression and acute loneliness, deals with losing all that he has. He’s not nice to be around. He hasn’t worked since his hit show in the 90’s. He drinks a lot. Parties too much. And has way too many one-night stands. Oh, and he’s a horse. But then, he is offered one last chance at redemption: an autobiographical book.

In a brilliantly blended world of humans and anthropomorphic animals, Bojack Horseman shows us what it’s like to hit our peak, crash, and try to rebuild. By no means is Horseman an archetypal hero: he’s crude, rude, and highly impersonal. Yet, we still feel sorry for him. He’s had a rough upbringing. He pushes people away so they can keep a somewhat-perfect image of him. He’s scared of close interactions. And he’s sarcastic as hell. Above all, he’s lonely and doesn’t have too many close friends (except Todd, who sleeps on his couch, and Diane, whose job it is to write his book).

As Bojack tries to make amends with his life while he prepares for his dream role as Secretariat in season two, there are a few lessons to take away as he tries to create a new self image.

1) Don’t give people something negative to talk about.

We see time and time again that Bojack is failing at life. His relationships suffer. He is constantly being yelled at by his agent. He isn’t accustomed to kindness. He lashes out on anyone who gets in his way. He makes it very easy for Diane to portray him negatively in his ghost-written book.

3 Things Bojack Horseman Taught Us About Rebranding

When dealing with your company’s brand, it is easy to misstep. With the rise of social media, big company players are given an even bigger platform than before. A single statement could tarnish your entire company’s image. Just ask Abercrombie & Fitch’s former CEO, Mike Jeffries.

2) Keep your competition close.

Sometimes, it’s just not worth acknowledging the Mr. Peanutbutters of this world. You cannot be consumed with disgust when trying to become better. It’s exhausting. And sometimes, the competition isn’t worth annihilating.

While Bojack is openly sarcastic with a Mr. Peanutbutter who simply isn’t smart enough to get it, he does end up interacting with him for publicity in season two. In fact, when Mr. Peanutbutter becomes a host on Hollywoo Stars and Celebrities: What Do They Know? Do They Know Things?? Let’s Find Out!, Bojack’s popularity skyrockets.

3 Things Bojack Horseman Taught Us About Rebranding

Bojack could’ve easily denounced any interaction with his former sitcom rival, Peanutbutter. Instead, he saw this as an opportunity to get back in the spotlight.

Keeping a close eye on what your rival company is up to (or better yet, getting an intimate look at how they’re doing it) not only keeps you in the “know”; it gives you a leg up on how you can improve your own craft. Use that opportunity to study where they might fall short so you can learn how to be better than your competition.

3) Improvement is possible.

In the first episode of season two, we see Bojack making an honest (and strenuous) effort to make positive changes in his life. He listens to motivational tapes. He attempts to jog. He expresses concern. He is kind to Peanutbutter…for about half of one episode. And he’s secured his job as Secretariat, only to blow it. Even though Bojack’s positive mindset is short-lived, it’s important to note that it is there. Despite what he – and we – believe, it is possible for him to become a better person. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

3 Things Bojack Horseman Taught Us About Rebranding

Even companies with the worst reputation are able to make this choice. We at Key West believe that there is no limit to improving self image – even if that means dismantling all that you’re known for to build anew.

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