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Playboy is making a drastic move, shifting its image to a more conservative one. The publication known for scantily-clad women is now focusing on content that’s “safe for work” with articles about sports, cars and lifestyle tips.

The brand’s website scratched shots of naked women from its main page, reserving that content for its paid subscribers.

It’s a complete 180 from the day when Playboy first hit the market in 1953. Back then it was risqué, but in demand. Now, in the age of all-things-accessible-online, the publication has lost its luster. Subscriptions were dropping, so marketers decided to make change.

What can marketers learn from this bold move? We asked marketers that very question. Here are three lessons the industry can glean from Playboy’s rebranding:

1. Don’t be afraid to make a change

Brands tend to stick with what works, hesitant to make a change for fear of its outcome. Nikolas Allen, a marketing author, says Playboy proves that any brand can embrace change.

“Let’s face it: Playboy is a dusty relic of a bygone era,” he says. “The modern marketplace is a fluid, dynamic landscape and brands have to adapt and morph in order to remain relevant. Playboy’s change of direction is bold, and every brand should be brave enough to make such pivots when necessary.”

It takes bold thinking to stay relevant in the new digital landscape, so it’s important to have forward thinkers on staff, Allen says.

2. Know your audience

Part of Playboy’s rebranding focuses on its core audience, rather than trying to go after a new niche. It’s a smart play, Allen says.

“No company needs to appeal to everybody. They simply need to find their ideal audience, understand what said audience wants, and deliver it to them,” he says.

“Gen Xers don’t read Playboy. Millennials don’t even know what it is. Playboy is a magazine for Baby Boomers and their parents. Throughout the years, a contingent of Playboy’s audience claimed they read the magazine for the articles. Playboy is going after that crowd now, and really, really hoping that these people weren’t lying.”

The content caters to that audience, and so does new merchandise the brand is selling on its site. The brand is offering button-up cardigans and knit sweaters like the one below to its fans.

3. Create more social possibilities

The site’s digital content leader, Cory Jones, says one of the reasons for the new marketing strategy was to enable more social sharing. A picture of a naked woman on a classic car can’t be shared on Facebook; there are rules about sharing that kind of content.

“Girl content does well, but there’s a ceiling on that,” Jones, Playboy told Digiday. “But if you’re doing really shareable fun viral things, you do even better. That content has a higher ceiling.”

Bryan Mattimore, cofounder of Growth Engine, a company that helps businesses brand their products, says smart marketers don’t ignore the potential traffic that social media can produce.

“In these times, astute marketers recognize that their branding strategy needs to include considerations of its viability in social media,” he says.

“In the case of Playboy, their strategically-sound decision to soften their brand should promote greater social sharing of their content.”

While it’s still early to judge this marketing change, CEO Scott Flanders tells CNBC that the change has been well received, with website traffic rising to around 20 million unique visitors a month.

What’s your take on Playboy’s new image? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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