Rebranding. It’s a term that often sends shivers down the spines of marketers and business owners alike. But are company rebrands always a bad idea? Can they ever be the right decision?
In this blog post, we’re going to take a look at whether company rebrands are a good idea or a recipe for disaster. From Facebook’s transformation into Meta to the rebranding of cable giants, we’ll look at rebrands that worked and those that didn’t.
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Why Rebranding Can Be Risky
Rebranding can be a tricky game, especially when you’ve already built a strong, recognizable brand. But for one reason or another, a lot of decision-makers get attracted to the idea of shifting the vision of their business to something fresh and new.
In some cases, that can be a beneficial thing, but it usually has to be for a very good reason. If a company rebrands itself because of the ever-shifting whims of the head authority, it’s probably not a great idea.
Your brand is an icon. It is how people have grown to know your business. When you change it too frequently (or at all, for that matter), it will inevitably confuse people as they struggle to comprehend why the emails they’re getting from your business are now showing up in their inbox under a different name.
The first question you ought to consider with a potential rebrand is:
What are you trying to accomplish by doing a rebrand?
If your brand has positive momentum, your goal should be hitting the pedal to the metal with your existing brand strategy, not dislodging your audience from the comfortable place of knowing your brand inside and out.
When we talk about company rebrands, we’re really focusing on companies that change their entire identity from one thing to another. Take Facebook – it changed its entire name and logo from “Facebook” to “Meta”:
Looks completely different, right? If you didn’t know any better, you probably would have never guessed that Meta and Facebook were supposed to be the same company.
While they aimed to venture into the metaverse, it created confusion for users and businesses alike.
The lesson here? Don’t change a popular brand’s name if it’s not aligned with what its audience wants. In this case, the metaverse wasn’t something people were clamoring for as quickly as Facebook had hoped.
A more recent example that’s likely all over your news feed is Twitter’s rebrand to X:
Remember what we said about the baseless changes by branding decision-makers? That’s where Elon Musk’s whimsical judgment threw his own company a curveball, potentially causing billions of dollars in lost brand value.
But why? Because Twitter is a household name. We’ve created verbs to describe posting on Twitter. The brand solidified itself as one of the top social media platforms in the world, harnessing hundreds of millions of users in its lifetime.
With those two gargantuan examples, it brings us to our next point.
Logo Design Changes Can Be Great
Nominal logo design changes are rarely ever that subversive.
Iterations on a theme are likely your best bet if you’re itching to revamp your brand’s appearance. It’s often the best way to adapt your brand to the trending graphical styles that come and go every 5-10 years or so.
Apple’s logo has evolved over time but has retained its corporate name, ensuring familiarity among consumers:
Notice how the core theme is present with each version of the Apple logo. They each carry their own motif representative of the time they were in.
Apple actually did so well with their rebrands that they caused a lot of other brands to follow a similar approach, adopting a more beveled look and then eventually returning back to a flatter design. We saw Microsoft imitate this with Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Then we have Slack, which reworked its logo design back in 2019, opting for a more stylized, proprietary look that would breathe new life into the brand’s image.
Notice how they preserved the core elements that were contained in their old logo. And, of course, they did this without touching the company’s name. This is a great example of a brand that pulled off an aesthetic change without deviating too harshly from its roots.
When Rebranding Does Work
So far, this piece has probably felt very one-sided, but here are a few reasons why you could and should consider rebranding your company as a whole.
Your Product or Service Offering Has Changed
If, over time, your brand’s core competency has evolved and caused you to pursue alternate means of revenue, it could give way for a total brand 180.
Especially if your brand has a qualifier attached to it, like “Greg’s Roofing Co.,” it might make sense to rebrand later down the road if the company starts offering services other than roofing. In a lot of cases, this is how companies graduate to a parent company, creating branches of subsidiaries focused on one type of product or service.
Negative Brand Associations
Nobody wants this to be the reason they rebrand but, nevertheless, it’s a valid reason to ditch the old brand name and start anew.
If your brand has a negative connotation due to poor service or products, a rebrand can help you shed that baggage and gain new, positive traction. Company rebrands in this way can also be a way of expressing to previously dissatisfied customers that you’re making room for improvements that will fix any mistakes you might have made in the past.
Aligning with Changing Values
This is much more of a case-by-case situation, but if your brand no longer resonates with evolving consumer values, a rebrand can help you stay relevant and retain older customers who might be looking for something different.
Examples of Successful Rebrands
Apple’s approach to rebranding provides a valuable lesson. When they introduced the Vision Pro, their augmented reality headset, they didn’t complicate things with talk of AI or the metaverse. Instead, they kept it simple, knowing their target audience.
Rebrands often complicate matters, but Apple focuses on simplifying for a seamless customer experience.
Let’s take a look at some successful rebrands that not only changed names but also perceptions:
- Patagonian Toothfish to Chilean Sea Bass: A toothfish doesn’t sound appetizing, but a Chilean sea bass does. Sometimes, a name change can alter the way consumers perceive your product.
- Pleather to Vegan Leather: This was less of a company rebrand as it was redefining a type of material, which dozens of companies would then use as a way to market their cruelty-free leather alternatives in a more attractive light. Pleather became “vegan leather” to align with the heightened value that customers placed on purchasing vegan leather products.
- Charter to Spectrum: Remember when Charter became Spectrum? Charter had a dismal reputation for its services, and a rebrand was the perfect solution. It not only changed the public’s perception but also made it seem like an exciting new offering. Sometimes, a fresh start is all you need, especially when your brand image is severely tarnished.
Closing Thoughts on Company Rebrands: Should You Go for It?
Rebranding can be a fun idea in theory. It can even offer a boost of freshness when executed modestly. But for total rebrands, the reality is rarely as romantic as the fantasy. They can invite a whole host of complications and cause more trouble than they fix.
Sure, they might give you a change of pace that you’re craving, but a total business rebrand is a serious choice that ought to be reserved for the most deserving scenarios, such as product shifts or PR reasons.
Other than that, invest in the asset you’ve built and focus more on ways to build your brand even better.
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