4 Famous Rebranding Examples With Lessons Learned

Rebranding is a smart way to stay relevant in today’s market, but it can also be damaging if not done well. Find out how four famous companies fared with their attempts.

rebranding examples

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Taking on the challenge of rebranding your business can end up being a hit or a miss, depending on how you go about it. It requires time and thought to get it right, and not all companies succeed.

Just look at the extreme rebranding of Twitter recently. Is it a success, or will it be the end of the social media platform for good?

Whether you plan to modify your company’s name, change your messaging, or redesign your logo or other element of your product or service, a good place to start is to learn through the experiences of other companies.

To help you gain a glimpse of efforts that both succeed and fall short, below we provide four famous rebranding examples.

Successful Case: Apple, Inc.

Apple is one of the most valuable brands throughout the world, and the company’s rebranding helped its status in 1997. Prior to this time, Apple was synonymous with computers only.

Rebranding strategies

As if foretelling the future, the rebranding included a change to the name, removing the word “computer” and becoming simply Apple, Inc. This act alone removed any limitation placed on the company, allowing it to expand its offerings to other products.

Around the same time, the company modified its logo, removing the various colors and giving it a more sophisticated and modern look. While the apple shape remained, it now “grew up,” so to speak, as one color.

Positive outcomes and market responses

With the rebranding, Apple could more readily develop new products to offer customers and continue building strong customer loyalty.

New products soon found their way into the marketplace, including the iPod, iTunes iPhone, and iPad. As a result, Apple continued to gain market share while maintaining its reputation as a technology innovator.

Lessons for marketers and brand owners

By modifying the company’s name and logo, Apple successfully rebranded because consumers still knew them as specializing in technology. Now, however, they also saw them as innovative and creative, expanding into other markets.

One of the biggest lessons here is that rebranding can be a way to help you enter other markets, expand your business, and continue building customer loyalty.

Unsuccessful Case: Gap

As an established clothing retailer, Gap sought to rebrand itself following the 2008 Financial Crisis, leading to a sales slump. The rebranding attempt centered on the creation of a new logo for the brand and, unfortunately, not much more.

While the Gap logo had been in place for 20 years (1990-2010), the company felt a change would alert consumers that it was still relevant, modern, and even exciting again.

It failed miserably.

It only took a week for the brand to see their error, and they reverted to the tried-and-true logo of the past. As such, Gap experienced a failed rebranding strategy.

Reasons behind the failure

The approach failed because, to undergo a visual rebranding, Gap did not accompany the logo change with any other substantial change in strategy, such as its messaging.

The company did not build up the reveal of a new logo, creating anticipation and curiosity, but instead simply made the change across all channels overnight.

In other words, it didn’t tell consumers what they could expect with this new image they wished to project.

The impetus for the logo redesign was more about falling sales than customer loyalty and brand recognition.

Negative repercussions on brand image and customer loyalty

Such an abrupt change in logo received a huge amount of negative backlash from customers.

No other change — organizational, product, or otherwise — seemed to accompany the new logo, and, it not only confused customers but also made them angry. They felt cheated as the brand chose not to include them in the change beforehand.

Social media became the center of the backlash, with negative reactions to the new logo and the brand itself.

Lessons for marketers and brand owners

Before making any changes, first evaluate the value of your brand. Gap failed to take into account the brand recognition it had built throughout the years.

Your logo is a connecting element between your brand and consumers. When you make changes to it, be sure to accompany it with wider changes to your business and branding strategies. Otherwise, you risk damaging your reputation and alienating customers.

Create messaging to go along with your rebrandingContent marketing is key to a successful launch of your new image.

Finally, always stay aware of the power of social media. It doesn’t take long for things to go haywire on these platforms, so have a social media crisis management plan in place should you find yourself in a negative situation.

Successful Case: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola hasn’t had just one rebranding but several throughout the years, so they know what works and what doesn’t.

A brief history of Coca-Cola’s rebranding includes:

  • 1985: Introduction of a new Coke can, which is now iconic with the brand
  • 2001: A logo change, creating a more modern look.
  • 2005: Slight revision of their messaging, focusing more on happiness.
  • 2016: A refresh of the Coke logo with a new campaign called “Taste the Feeling” as a way to promote an emotional connection to the brand.
  • 2021: Introduction of the ‘One Brand’ strategy, helping customers to realize that all of their Coca-Cola brands (Coke Zero, Diet Coke, etc.) are enjoyable and as good as their signature product.

All of the above were successful.

The brand can be accredited with focusing on remaining relevant in an increasingly crowded beverage market and staying in tune with what occurs within the industry itself. All of these changes positively impacted consumer perception and sales.

Key takeaways for marketers and brand owners

A few key takeaways from Coca-Cola’s rebranding efforts include:

  • Create a connection with customers and make it emotional.
  • Refresh your messaging occasionally to reflect the current times.
  • Modify your logo at times to stay relevant and gain the attention of consumers.
  • Stay involved in your industry, paying attention to the latest trends, statistics, and happenings.

Coca-Cola provides an example of how to maintain the value you have already created in your brand while still doing a refresh to attract more customers.

Unsuccessful Case: PepsiCo’s Tropicana

In 2009, the brand Tropicana, owned by PepsiCo, decided to replace the packaging design of its bestselling juice product, Tropicana Pure Premium orange juice. While the packaging redesign was accompanied by an advertising campaign with new messaging, it still failed.

Design changes and consumer backlash

The design changes were extreme, making the product almost unrecognizable to customers. It replaced the orange with a straw sticking out of it with a glass full of orange juice. There were also other changes, including in the logo design.

Consumer backlash ensued. The brand received criticism from consumers almost instantly, especially on social media, and even rejection of its product.

It soon became evident that the new packaging and accompanying advertising campaign were a failure. The company had no choice but to return to the original design.

Financial impact and market share decline

Prior to the attempted rebranding, Tropicana Pure Premium brought in annual sales revenues of over 700 million dollars. However, in the few months following that failed rebranding, sales dipped by 20%, resulting in a 30 million dollar loss for Tropicana.

The brand’s competitors wasted no time swooping in and gaining customers and sales.

Key issues for marketers and brand owners

As a result of this failed attempt, there are several key issues to remain aware of when rebranding.

  • Consumers can have emotional connections with product appearance, so package design is important.
  • Avoid changing too many brand elements on packaging at the same time. Tropicana created a new logo, slogan, image, typography, and lid and applied them all at once, and confused customers.
  • Packaging sells the product in many instances, so make sure you include it as an essential part of the branding.

Increase the Strength of Rebranding With the Right Content and Messaging

Rebranding takes considerable resources, and getting each element right is essential to customer loyalty as well as your bottom line. You’ll need to accompany changes in name, logo design, packaging, and messaging with new content that speaks to the heart of your customers and captures the interest of potential new ones. That is where WriterAccess can help.

Our professional writers understand how important branding is to your success and know how to create the content you need for your rebranding efforts. Find out more today by signing up for our free 14-day trial.


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Barbara von der Osten Rock author vector
Barbara is one of our WriterAccess talents. Find good writers like her on www.writeraccess.com/trial

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