When to Rethink Rebranding

Almost every major brand has done it at least once, but is it absolutely necessary?  We’re talking, of course, about rebranding – that painstaking process of redesigning a logo, branded collateral, and sometimes user experience in order to help a brand do anything from look more modern to go back to its roots.  Sometimes, rebrands knock it out of the park.  And sometimes, they can go very, very wrong.  Take a look at how rebranding for the wrong reasons can backfire.


Rebranding to cash in on a movement

Long Island Iced Tea may be known for its beverages, but the company saw dollar signs when the blockchain trend began gaining prominence.  They went so far as to change their company name to Long Blockchain last year, pivoting from teas to bitcoin mining.  And just as quickly, the company backed out of a promise to raise over $8 million with a stock offering in order to buy bitcoin mining equipment.

Now why would a beverage company decide to make the huge (and unrelated) switch to the blockchain game?  They saw a trend that could be profitable and jumped feet first, despite the fact that they don’t seem to know much about bitcoin mining.  While it’s a strategy that may work in the short-term, sometimes sticking to what you know best is a better solution to maintain long-term brand equity.


Rebranding without improving actual brand touchpoints

Back before the Verizon buyout, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and her in-house team of designers introduced a new logo in 2013 that was lackluster at best.  The company promoted their exploration for thirty days, culminating in a mark that’s merely “meh.” 

But more than that, they failed to address very real problems with the platform.  The same year they conducted their exploratory, every single Yahoo account was hacked.  That’s right, all 3 billion of them.  Instead of focusing on security improvements and transparency for users, Yahoo poured time and energy into creating a new logo, waiting four years to reveal the depth of the hack.  The takeaway?  Don’t let a shiny new mark distract from improving the core pieces of your offering.  If you can’t provide customers with an exceptional experience, you should address that area first before deciding you need to rebrand.


Rebranding with no research

It may be a little time-worn, but it’s true:  when it comes to your brand, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  If you fail to do some research with your current customers and target audience, you may be conducting a rebrand that’s really not needed.  Research provides valuable insights into which aspects of your current branding resonate with your target audience.  Conducting both surveys and one-on-one interviews provides information you can utilize to determine if you’re on the right track. 

And don’t discount the brand equity your current look and materials possess either.  Coca-Cola famously introduced the much maligned New Coke to consumers in the mid-‘80s, and Coca-Cola loyalists were so upset at the change that the company relented and revived the original formulation.  Doing more in-depth research and keeping the consumer’s feedback top-of-mind would have shown Coca-Cola execs that a new formula wasn’t needed to compete with Pepsi –fans liked Coke just the way it was.


Now it may sound like we’re big rebranding haters here, but that’s not the case.  When done well, a rebrand can revive a company and change outdated consumer perceptions.  But brand marketers must be strategic when it comes to these initiatives, and make sure to do them for the right reasons.


Image credit:  Branden Tate