When the time comes to rebrand and reposition your business, it’s vital to consider how the shift will impact your customers, peers and the wider audience. It’s a real opportunity to catapult a brand to the next level, making your business more accessible and success more likely.
Success isn’t guaranteed though, so in this post I’m going to run you through some examples of the good, the bad and the ugly of rebranding to ensure you get it right.
The Belgian beer, brewed since 1926, has certainly had its ups and downs. Most of us will recall the 90s campaigns which positioned the tipple as an up-market option with the clever tagline “Reassuringly expensive”.
Fast forward fifteen years to the noughties, though, and the pilsner brand was more associated with “larger louts” and the infamous “wife beater” title. This was a far cry from the self-image the brand had, of a beer for the “discerning gentleman”.
All of this took its toll on the business, with sales plummeting and a brand stigma that would take years to shake off.
The corporate response was positive however: to create a newly targeted image and a softer umbrella with the “Artois” brand.
Strengths were reduced from 5.2% Stella and a 4% ‘Stella Four’ option was to follow. This complemented a popular cider (“Cidre”) range to help attract a wider range of drinkers.
In 2010, the “she is a thing of beauty” campaign relaunched Stella to their desired spot – a sophisticated and gentlemanly drink from the continent – which won back their target market and kick-started a resurgence in sale volumes.
Make your brand too famous and it may fall into the wrong hands; this was the case for Burberry. The fashion institution was founded in 1856 by 21-year old Thomas Burberry and found early success supplying the British Army with military apparel, trench coats and accessories during the Second World War.
By the mid to late 1990s, Burberry had upped its advertising budget in an attempt to increase profits and ensured the iconic checkered pattern adorned everything it produced.
The veteran British brand was pushed out to the masses and eventually the exclusive fashion house became synonymous with football hooliganism and ‘chav’ culture.
The brand had been tarnished.
It had to act, and fast.
Ahrendts joined the company in 2006 and gave Bailey complete creative control. Together they focused on reviving Burberry’s heritage for the “millennial” digital generation.
They expertly-retuned Burberry products and the Burberry story through digital platforms and social media – YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest and also through RFID chips that turn mirrors in its stores into screens.
The latest use of technology through the burberry brand is “Burberry Kisses”, an interactive and visually immersive experience that lets customers send letters sealed with a digital kiss to friends and loved ones.
Gimmick or authentic? See for yourself here.
For a long period of time, Old Spice was seen as the reserve of the ’60 plus man’. The market knew it, brand managers knew it and sales performance showed it.
In 2010 that was to change with a legendary viral ad campaign that launched the product into a pop culture revival.
The ad featuring former NFL star Isaiah Mustafa; “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” instantly reached out to the younger consumer and generated millions of online views. A massively successful social media movement followed and, as a result, sales of the Old Spice body wash rose 11% in the year following the rebrand.
Whilst the product itself stayed the same,its perception underwent a radical change. A small business would struggle to fund and manage ad campaign on the scale as Old Spice but it does go to show that a little humour can go a long way.
By the 1990s, Apple products had become overpriced and uninspired; their product line consisted of reproduced older version computers. Then, in 1997, Stiff competition from Dell and HP brought the company close to bankruptcy.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive and all-round maverick, rejoined to try and turn the company’s fortunes around. He launched the advertising campaign “Think Different” which had a focus on changing customers’ perception, by allowing them to see Apple as a lifestyle choice, focusing upon individuality.
With the success of the iPod and then the iPhone, Apple products shot their way to the pinnacle of 21st century cool. The company is predicted to soon be worth an estimated $1tn.
World-renowned juice brand Tropicana had a shocker in 2009 when they rebranded and replaced their packaging design for the North American market. The packaging was immediately criticised by customers and it’s easy to see why.
The iconic image of a freshly-picked orange which once decorated the carton was gone; in its place was a full glass of orange juice – a move Tropicana described as “modern” but which left a sour taste on the customer palate. The equally iconic Tropicana logo was also modernised and the makers introduced a colour system to help customers differentiate between their juices. The result was a very bland and sterile range of packaging befitting a store brand not Tropicana, the world leader, in branded juices.
The new branding and packaging was launched on January 8th 2009 and was reversed on February 23rd in the same year as a result of public pressure – just in time, we say.
In total, this branding disaster cost Tropicana 50 million dollars and the agency responsible for it, Arnell Group, was subsequently fired.
Think Consignia, think a medieval organisation – an organisation that’s shrouded in mystery. But in actual fact, this was the name of Royal Mail from January 2001 to May 2002. Yep, that’s right.
The iconic Post Office rebranded with a name fit for a beige 70s Estate car. As you’d expect, the public response was overwhelmingly negative and even The Communication Workers Union boycotted the name.
Lauded as a howling waste of money, the new name was supposed to show that the company did more than deliver mail. Unfortunately, it didn’t actually ‘deliver’ much at all. John Roberts, Consignia’s chief executive, resigned in June 2012 on the back of a £1.1bn loss forecast for the company, which most people put down to the new name.
In May 2002, senior executives announced that they were to replace the Consignia brand with the name Royal Mail Group. Today, that name still exists, and memories of Consignia have faded. But despite Consignia’s very short reign, it has to go down as one of the worst rebrands in UK history.
It really was a shocker.
In Christmas 2010, Gap decided to push out a complete logo revamp without warning. Gap’s iconic and well-established logo was replaced with a new brandmark featuring a simple “Gap” in Helvetica and a reduced prominence of the brand’s iconic blue box to a light blue square. It was coined cheap, tacky and ordinary and you can see why.
The aftermath was intense, with thousands of Gap fans and commentators posting negative opinions on social media and in the press. The company quickly reacted with what was one of the quickest branding U-turns ever.
A mere eight days after releasing its new logo, the company reverted back.
Image source: Narrative Branding
The executive who oversaw the logo change was Marka Hansen, who resigned February 1, 2011. Luckily the quick backtrack spared the company any long term damage. Close call!
Bonus: The Jury is still out on Uber
Just in case you’ve been under a rock for the past 2 years, Uber is a mobile-focused ride-sharing app that has exploded onto the mainstream. Founded as an up-market driver service in San Francisco, the business is now valued at over $3.9 billion.
With the roll-out to over 30 cities worldwide, brand executives took the industry by surprise by unveiling a radical new look, replacing the familiar logo with colourful, geometric shapes. According to Uber, the new logo represents “bits and atoms”. Although we’re not quite sure what that means, the launch video seeks to explain further:
The criticism (and, in some cases, praise) has been delivered from all corners; the meaningful association between the logo and the brand has slipped in the eyes of some.
Uber changing its app logo to this. Dropping what must be the most recognisable U on the planet. Madness? pic.twitter.com/rtBcg1UNpz
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) February 2, 2016
Over 400 logos were submitted and here’s the winning entry:
The winning alternative design by designer Arcoalex
The bottom line…
Branding goes a lot further then just a logo. A logo, a colour palette or a font should demonstrate a connection between your business and your customer. At Tone we take that seriously, by delivering world class web experiences and graphic design which work specifically for your audience. We’d love to chat about how we can help you add your name to the ‘Good’ list, avoiding the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’.
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