What Businesses Can Learn from Recent Major Rebrands

By Lauren Genender and edited by Becky Harris

In today’s world, the word “rebrand” is synonymous with big companies like Google or Apple. However, anyone can benefit from a rebrand.

Considering a rebrand? Consider that the first step may be to rename the company. This can be very expensive. According to an article in Marketing Brew, there are three reasons why companies typically choose to rename:

  • A change of business focus
  • Legal requirements, or
  • When a name has become inappropriate for cultural reasons

Two recent examples of universally recognizable name changes are Dunkin and Weight Watchers. Dunkin’s removal of the latter half of its name back in 2019 was in response to fans referring to it as just “Dunkin.” This was after almost a decade and a half of the widespread popularity of its slogan “America Runs on Dunkin.’” Additionally, Dunkin’s new name is more reflective of its wide variety of offerings.

Companies sometimes choose to rebrand to remain consistent with updated offerings. Weight Watchers, for example, altered its name to reflect its identity as a wellness company not focused solely on diet promotion. 

Logo Changes as a Means to Remain Relevant

As for the logo, there are many reasons for a company to alter its signature imagery. Some of these reasons include a company changing its name, merging with another, repositioning or renewing its brand, or revitalizing its identity to make it more significant. Four recent rebrand projects from 2021 (Burger King, Pfizer, General Motors, and Kia) fall into the third category. 

Pfizer turned one of the world’s most catastrophic health crises into a major marketing opportunity. They positioned themselves as familiar and attractive to their newfound booming audience of those who received the COVID vaccine. In two short years, Pfizer has become a household brand name. To retain consumer interest, the company removed the pill bottle from its logo and added a 3D aesthetic, making the logo more appealing and versatile for consumers.

Burger King is another example of a company that rebranded in 2021 to alter its appeal. Burger King’s old logo, with an artificial shininess, fake bun, and blue swish, was meant to reflect speed. Now, they have made a conscious decision to switch the focus of the organization to one of food quality and taste. They want to get away from the “artificial” look. The logo redesign is meant to reflect this change in focus and simultaneously alter consumers’ perceptions of its brand. Through removing colors, preservatives, and artificial flavors from menu items and avoiding MSG and high fructose corn syrup, the brand has made material changes to reflect this image change. 

How to Rebrand (or more specifically, how NOT to)

Some of you may be asking, “When is it time for a rebrand?” Well, if you’re feeling that your brand is outdated, boring or confusing, then it may be time to rethink your public image. If your brand isn’t able to excite people, that’s a good indication it’s not working as-is. 

Rebranding can help customers better understand your product offerings and brands. However, it can also do the opposite. 

Years ago, Coca-Cola attempted to bring all of its Coke sub-brands together through “One Brand” packaging. This led to confusion among consumers and made it difficult for them to distinguish the drinks from one another when reaching in the fridge. 

The best way to decide on the timing for a rebrand is by speaking to your customers first-hand: What do they think of your brand as is? What does it say about your business? If they respond that your brand gives the impression that your company is out-of-date, complex or dull, and dreary, then it’s time to consider a rebrand.

Changing with the Times: Branding is Everything

I listened to a podcast the other day with the House of CB founder, a self-funded fashion company. The company has not only made it through the pandemic, but it has thrived. Throughout the last two years, sales have boomed and the company saw one of its most successful collections soar. 

From this podcast and other research, I learned that rebranding is not as cookie-cutter as some may think. Consumer preferences are constantly changing. As social media becomes the best salesperson a company can rely on, photography styles, logos, models, shapes, patterns and other visual imagery become more and more relevant to a company’s success. Having the autonomy and freedom to adjust your brand based on feedback or changing brand ideals is the key to staying relevant. 

Recent major rebrands of companies like Burger King and Dunkin’ are proof of consumers’ desires for companies whose brands reflect real, moral, and relatable identities and values. The pandemic has shown us that brands will either shift their offerings and identity to reflect these desires or pay the price. 

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