When Rebranding Goes Wrong—Lessons Learned for Putting Your Best Brand Forward

April 3, 2018

Let’s face it. Customers can be fiercely loyal to a brand—so much so, that they never want to see a change or actually reject a change by not buying the product. They might even go so far as to voice their opinion on social media. Then, what is a brand to do? Hope their consumers change their mind? Pull the product from shelves? Put some advertising dollars behind it?

Looking back in the design history books, there are a few brands where re-branding went wrong. Can you name the brand?

  • A popular orange juice maker offers new packaging and customers clamored, so the brand pulled the packaging from the shelf shortly after, at a large price tag.
  • A popular retailer launched a new logo but criticism was overwhelming and the original logo was back in five days.
  • A credit card company changed their logo and consumer backlash proclaimed it was just plain ugly.

Venture a guess? These are the true branding stories of Tropicana, Gap and Mastercard.

We wondered—is there a way for retailers and brands to avoid these types of costly mistakes before they embark on a rebranding or package redesign? To find out, we sat down with Daymon Creative Services Director Steven Cox to get his perspective.

RNI: How does a design team strategize when they have to rebrand a brand?

SC: Every brand will at some point find itself in need of a refresh, whether the market trends make you feel dated or sales decline. It is how the brand approaches the rebranding process that is critical. For most brands, it can be a small meaningful change that will make the brand feel relevant again. In other cases, there is a bigger change needed to become relevant again. In both scenarios, the success of the rebrand is tied to the company’s values and what they want to be known for. If that’s the guiding light, the brand is more likely to succeed.

RNI: How do trends play a role or not play a role in a rebranding?

SC: Trends can play into your strategy if they align with the brand personality. They have to be genuine and, if they are not, consumers will see through it. I really like to use trends as a way to look at the market, what is important to different consumer groups and use them much less as part of an executional plan.

RNI: From your experience, what is a strong predictor of research that yields rebrand acceptance (focus groups, consumer surveys, etc.)?

SC: I think research can be used to validate but not strategize a brand redesign. Consumers are not designers and they can’t tell you what they want, but only react to what they see. Companies and brands that believe in what they are doing will produce stronger results. I remember the refresh of the Pepsi logo. There were blog posts, news articles and social media chatter from people who were outraged at the new design. Pepsi had their reasons and stuck with it. I almost never hear anyone even mention it anymore. If you want to redesign your brand, you are going to need to weather the storm.

You really only get one chance to do it right. With consumers being more and more vocal through social media, you no longer have the ability to just revert back to an old logo and say “whoops!” A well-thought-out strategic plan, based on the fundamental brand’s values, is the only way to move forward. Consumers may not like it, but if it is a positive message they will always respect it.

To learn more about Daymon’s branding and package design services, contact Aimee Becker, Senior Vice President of Strategic Services, at abecker@daymon.com