Rebranding strategies: dos and don’ts

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BP’s rebranding in 2000

When’s the best time for a rebrand? Perhaps when a company image becomes old and tired and sales begin to slow down, or as part of a reputation management task? In both cases, BP’s rebrand in 2000 springs to mind.

In some cases, the rebranding proves successful, yet occasionally the new brand solution doesn’t go down well with consumers and, for various reasons, can fall flat on its face.

Brands need to be cautious and consider if it’s the right thing to do. How do they know if loyal customers will like the change? Will they be suspicious of the new look? Rebranding can certainly be a risky business.

In each case, it’s important that the transformation turns the brand’s fortunes around. Rebranding strategies work for different reasons and who’s to say what the magic formula is?

There are certainly some things to keep in mind, such as:

Avoid turning your back on the brand’s history


One they’d rather us forget

Do you remember when the Royal Mail – a 500-year-old company – ditched tradition and changed its name to Consignia?

In 1997, the recently elected Labour government decided to give public companies more commercial freedom – a move which led to the ill-fated name change four years later.

The 2001 rebrand proved to be extremely unpopular yet, staggeringly, it cost £2.5 million to rebrand to Consignia and, rather comically, £1 million to change the name back.

Consignia was chosen because it was deemed to be a trustworthy name. However, a year on, it reverted back, following plenty of public outcry – the rebrand was an attempt to reverse commercial losses of around £1.1 billion the previous year. Unsurprisingly, the name change wasn’t its ticket to success.

We’re not sure who authorised the renaming and rebrand, but we reckon they’d rather us just let it go and be forgotten – something branding professionals like ourselves are yet to do.


British Airways’ tailfin redesign

Who can forget the rebrand of British Airways’ tailfins in 1997? The new designs were met with objection and even former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had her say – she didn’t do much to hide her contempt for the new look.

What’s interesting about this example is that the BA designs weren’t that bad, it’s just that they ignored its history and prestige as the nation’s flagship airline.

The common theme here is British institutions ditching their traditional image and the subsequent backlash. Always try to keep some sense of heritage as your brand moves forward.

Be savvy about new technology


The well received Comedy Central logo redesign

In 2011, Comedy Central redesigned its logo to look like the Copyright logo, earning it the nickname ‘Comedymark’.

This is a superb example of brand progression and modernisation. The channel brought its branding into the 21st Century and created a flexible brand that’s able to transcend multiple platforms.

The understated comic aspect of the brand is what makes it work. It caused lots of disagreement at the time, yet it’s become a classic despite the disparity to the old design.

The new identity is designed for the modern world and new technology – something the previous incarnation wasn’t when it was unveiled back in the 1990s.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it


Another ill-fated rebrand

By all means, change your logo – but at least get it right. This one has been consigned to the history books and seems to be largely forgotten (unless you’re a branding professional). However, it’s worth bringing up Gap’s dreadful rebrand in 2010 as an example of how not to do it.

The clothing company decided to replace its classic logo. The new one, which was simply the brand name in Helvetica accompanied by a blue square, went down terribly and the company made a swift u-turn.

The current Gap logo is far from perfect, but it’s so recognisable and classy that if it were to be replaced again, the designers would have their work cut out to try and enhance it.

Don’t mess with loyal fans


The Cardiff City fans weren’t happy about this one

Loyal customers can be extremely vocal if something doesn’t go their way – social media has ensured that brands now need to tread carefully or risk public shaming and damaged reputations.

So, when new Cardiff City Football Club owner Vincent Tan decided to swap the club’s traditional bluebird logo for a red dragon, you can imagine they weren’t best pleased – the supporters voiced their displeasure by boycotting games and attacking the club’s new owner on Twitter and Facebook.

It wasn’t just the logo. Tan changed the club colours from blue to red for marketing reasons. He believed the switch to the colour red would attract investors who would bring in additional revenue for better players and a new training ground.

A classic case of the brand u-turn

The rebrand happened in 2012. However, in early 2015, Tan had a change of heart and reverted to the team’s traditional blue, stating, rather strangely, that his mother told him to. That might be true, or he might have just seen some sense.

Remember that a brand is nothing without its customers. You’re representing them, so be wary and avoid leaving those loyal brand ambassadors behind.

Finally, don’t do what London 2012 did


Can you tell what it is yet?

London hosted the Olympic Games in 2012 to much fanfare. However, the city’s big venture onto the world stage was accompanied by a dubious logo which, unbelievably, cost over £500,000 to develop.

There are plenty of schools of thought about what the bemusing design was meant to be; we’re still trying to figure it out. To the trained eye, it’s ‘2012’; however, it’s not very clear.

Regrettably for the London Olympic legacy, the games will forever be used as an example of bad branding, despite the opening ceremony being excellent.

Is it time for a rebrand?

A rebrand is more than just a new logo. It can consist of redesigned staff uniforms, brand new in-store experiences, rejuvenated marketing materials or an enhanced social media presence.

At Peppermint Soda, we create and reinvent brands that work – call us today on 0161 941 4252 to see what we can do for yours.