Are you harboring a zombie brand?


Zombie brands. They are the living dead. Mindless. Heartless. Staggering through the world. Eating company momentum alive.

They have been infected with me-too positioning. And ignored, leaving them not quite dead but not alive either.

What makes the zombie brand so dangerous is that it doesn’t wound your organization in a violent attack. That would be much easier to recognize and fend off. No, a zombie brand is more insidious. It slowly leaks the life from you. Almost imperceptibly. Until one day you wake up and wonder how you arrived at this state.

Do you have a zombie brand? Here’s how you find out.

The zombie brand identification test

Consider these 7 zombie brand identification criteria. If any of these describe your brand, you may be harboring a zombie.

  1. Your brand doesn’t look or act like a vibrant, living being.
  2. The brand’s posture is broken, causing it to limp through the days.
  3. Your brand’s voice is garbled and virtually unintelligible.
  4. The brand infects all those around it with a deadly malaise.
  5. When mentioned to your prospects, your brand causes them to ask “who?"
  6. When mentioned to your customers, your brand elicits a resounding “meh".
  7. When asked about the brand, your company’s employees vigorously hold back a yawn.

The brand refresh - it’s how you deal with zombie brands

To break free from the clutches of a zombie brand, you need to shock it. Shock it back to life. Nothing has the power to do that like revisiting your brand purpose.

Defining your brand purpose puts the heart back into the brand. When a brand has meaning, it inspires everyone it touches. Prospects, customers, employees, influencers, and more. It’s hard not to get excited about a brand that is on a quest to serve a bigger purpose in this world.

Don’t stop at the heart implant. Now that you’ve infused meaning into the brand, give it the reconstructive surgery to transform that brand into the inspiring specimen that it is. Look at your logomark, logotype, colors, voice, and more. Create a video. We have used this technique with our clients to introduce the refreshed brand. It’s a great way to announce something new and exciting. It gets everyone amped up – from customers and prospects to stockholders and potential investors. Plus it can become a useful tool in recruiting and employee on-boarding. And of course, it can be a mainstay on your website.

One of the biggest advantages is that a purpose-driven brand can bring new life to your marketing. When you define that meaning, it increases your ability to create messages that inspire. Let it spread new life from your web presence to your sales engagements.

Let’s do something about the zombie brands out there. They don’t want to be evil. They’re just waiting for someone to make them human and meaningful again.

Dan Salva is a co-founder of Will & Grail, with more than three decades of experience in brand marketing and developing and implementing go-to-market strategies. He can be reached at

Dan Salva