6 Steps to Rebrand your Brand: The Greyjoy Way
Game of Thrones. The show that went out with a…. Fart Noise.
But the show dominated pop culture for almost a decade. We had eight seasons worth of ups and downs, triumphs and failures. But there were also many lessons to be learned from watching the show. And one of my favorite characters in the entire show was none other than Euron Greyjoy.
Now despite what you might think about the whole Euron/Greyjoy chapter of the series, one cannot deny that Euron did more for Greyjoys than any of the kin that came before him. Not only did he rise to become the king of the iron islands, but he successfully managed to rebrand his entire house from a failed house into a globally recognized and terrorizing brand.
And it is that transformation that makes Euron a marketing genius. So first, let’s take a look at the brief history of the Greyjoy house, why they were essentially a failed brand, and how Euron’s plans to kill off the Greyjoy and successfully re-brand them as the iron fleet.
First, a brief history of the Greyjoys
Far away from the mainland, on the west coast of Westeros, sits a harsh and bleak collection of islands known as the Iron Islands. These islands offered no natural resources, were subjected to constant adverse weather conditions, had virtually no farmland, and were one of the seven kingdoms’ most dangerous and lawless places.
House Greyjoy as a Failed Brand
This resource scarcity and their Ironborn’s lawless nature lead them to become pirates and raiders. Learning to tame the most dangerous seas in the world, the Ironborn became excellent sailors and successfully raided and pillaged their neighbors locally in Westeros and even halfway around the world in Essos.
About ten years before the start of Game of Thrones, House Greyjoy of Pyke was the lowest of the Great Houses of Westeros. Their House, like all other houses, was under the direct command of the Iron Throne.
Balon, wanting the Iron Islands to become a free nation again, rebelled against the Iron Throne in a bid to be the King of his own nation. Balon and his younger brother Euron waged war against the iron throne. While Balon and Euron did have some success at the beginning of their campaign, The Greyjoys were ultimately defeated by the combined forces of Westeros.
While Balon accepted defeat for his title, Euron abandoned Westeros entirely. He fled to Essos, where he became a pirate and a mercenary. But this time, Eron began his “rebranding” of the Grey Joy name.
Balon represents the Greyjoy’s past, adhering to the tenets of the Drowned God and the obsession that the Greyjoys become the kings of their own free nation. But after their defeat, Euron had other plans for the Greyjoys.
He knew that the Greyjoy brand would never be taken seriously again. Once defeated, there was no more “brand equity” in the name “Greyjoy.” No nation would fear the now famous losers of their own rebellion. In many ways, the Greyjoys had become the butt end of many jokes among the elites. So Euron sought to remove himself from his namesake and rebrand the Greyjoys into the Iron Fleet, a soon-to-be globally recognized brand.
1. Update the Brand Logo
One of the first things Euron did was he stopped using his family Sigal, the Golden Kraken. The Golden Kraken was a testament to the Greyjoys’ failures. Ramsay Bolton once told Theon Greyjoy that the Kraken was a strong and formidable creature. But once it hit land, it withered away into a useless creature. This proved true, as the Greyjoys lost virtually every battle they ever took place on land.
Euron knew this truth all too well. So when he started pirating under a new brand logo. The Silver Kraken with a Red Eye. It was under this new sigil that many honest sailors lost their lives. Euron spread fear and also tales of glory under his new brand. Bandits and sailors from around the world came to know of Euron Greyjoy and gladly sailed under him for riches and mayhem.
2. Take the Family out of the Family Brand
Families are messy. Especially when there is legacy attached. Euron knew that if the Ironborne were ever recognized, they would have to end their allegiance to the Greyjoy name. This is precisely why he killed his own brother and attempted to kill his two surviving heirs to the throne so that there would be no one to challenge him for control of the Iron Borne.
This decision did not come without consequence, as many Ironborn flocked to Theon and Yara to support their bloodline claim. But Euron knew that family ties would always hold his empire back. He didn’t want to lead just the Greyjoys. He wanted to rule as much of the world as he could. To achieve this, he needed an organization built on the future, not it’s past. And so long as families ruled the Greyjoys, they would never have a future.
Most brands have a famous last name — Walton, Jobs, Kroger, etc. But just because someone founded something several generations ago doesn’t mean that their family is the one to lead the brand into the future.
Sometimes it’s not a family that needs to be “killed,” but an old way of thinking. An old management team or employees are unwilling to change with the times. While removal may seem cruel, it will help keep the brand on track for years.
3. Take your Brand Global
The world of Game of Thrones was a large one. And the Greyjoys were so obsessed with winning their independence that they failed to take advantage of greater wealth elsewhere. For Generations, the Greyjoys pillaged and raided the same territories, taking slaves and salt wives from the same families; it was like they were stuck in a time warp.
Euro saw this clearly and was motivated to change this. After Balon’s failed rebellion, Euro fled from the Iron islands as far as he could. He made connections and alliances all over the known world. And by establishing Greyjoys as a global brand, Euron could compete in the global economy of Esos.
The internet has become the common sea that unites us all in the modern business world. And yet, many brands are still stuck chasing the same business on the same small chain of islands.
And in the post-Covid economy, it’s completely unacceptable not to be an “internet first.” company.
4. Explore Brand Partnerships
And when that didn’t work out as he intended, he changed course and offered his hand to Cersi Lannister. In exchange for the use of the dreaded Iron Fleet. This was proved by a very excellent strategy that landed the Greyjoys as a centerpiece of the global world order. And had it not been for Dragons, The Ironfleet would have ruled the waves for ages.
5. Change the Brand’s Mission Statement
Many Brands start out with dreams. And the Greyjoys were no different. The clan was obsessed with becoming their own kingdom and ruling the Iron Islands, and being free to terrorize their neighbors. But after the failure of the Greyjoy Rebellion, Euron knew that the dream was dead. That the Ironborn would never gain their independence. But it didn’t mean they couldn’t be independent people. They just needed to give up the goal of ruling their own kingdom.
The funny thing is, the Iron Islands were useless lands, to begin with. It was foolish to fight so hard for something so worthless. One Euron fled to Ethos; he saw the world. Almost all of it. He saw the king cities of (Qarth, Bravos, etc.) He also saw what the Greyjoys could become if they just gave up their stupid useless islands.
So Euron began “divorcing” his people from those islands. He made connections worldwide in anticipation that one day his people would forsake their homes and truly become a global force.
Often see, many brands get stuck in their past mission statement. Amazon started out as an online bookstore. When Google was founded, it had no idea how it was going to make a profit. Successful brands will evolve and change according to the times.
6. Pivot your Brand to meet Market Conditions
That’s nice armor. Did you get that with gold and silver, or did you pay the Iron Price?”
Paying the Iron price refers to killing someone for something they have. This was quite common, and the Iron born rarely traveled with gold or silver. They had a whole subculture of privacy, pillaging, rape, and murder. In contrast, the rest of the world uses promises, gold, silver, lies, bribes, and marriages to get what they want.
Euron knew that his people would need to get with the times and stop this. This behavior wouldn’t fly outside the Ironborn’s little pocket of the world. So Euron moved the Greyjoys away from these foolish practices and got the house more on board with the global currencies of the time.
Follow Euron’s Example
If you have a personal brand struggling to take off, perhaps you need to clean the house the way Euron did. By following Euron’s example, you, too, can successfully pivot your brand to new heights. After all,
What is Dead… May never Die…