Rebranding as a successful marketing strategy


What’s rebranding

When companies need to create a new identity, they do rebrand, using a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination is created and implemented. This is done mostly with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers and stake-holders. Mostly, this involves great changes to a brand’s logo, name, legal names, image, marketing strategy, and advertising themes. This exercise is done with an aim to reposition the brand/company, occasionally to distance itself from negativities of previous braning. 

​When to do rebranding

​There are companies rebranded after well known in the market such as ‘Best Buy‘ which was earlier known as ‘Sound Of Music‘ and some other companies rebranded much earlier that we don’t even know their original name. Two such examples are ‘Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo‘ to Sony and ‘Blue Ribbon Sports‘ to ‘Nike.

​So any time is best time for rebranding as long it’s done right

When we hear about rebranding, we always consider big company rebranding stories. We know umpteen number of global brands with very short brand names. But the real story is that most of these companies didn’t start that way or even launched with different product lines all together. Apple was ‘Apple Computers’ before the iPhone became the number one income and profit generator for them.

Ideally, we need to seriously start considering rebranding once the basic operations are set and company start generating revenue. Most of the company names are given in the initial idea stage by the founder, and the company goes through great transformation in the initial period of setting up and getting more people on board. 

​There are great examples of companies getting stagnated due to the limitation the company name impose on the overall products or services. So it’s ideal to a rethink on the branding as soon as the operations are ready. There is huge chance that the initial idea of products or services changed or even the area of operation and market segment could be different from the beginning. 

Top Reasons Businesses Should Rebrand

Companies can go for re-branding any time,  and there are many reasons for the same. Let’s see the top reasons for rebranding.

  • Perceptions differ: Most of the time, the brand message perceived by customers differ from what was initially intended by the promoters. A brand is not what the owner wish it is — Brand is what the consumer perceive it is. When a brand is not perceived by consumers and the general public as the owners intended, a brand makeover is required.
  • Outdated Logo and Branding: Design trends keeps updated all the time and what is hep today may become outdated in no time. If your brand is specifically targeting young generation or futuristic, you need to keep up with time and update your logo and brand identity, even thinking of renaming your brand. 
  • Global Cultural Issues: Technology has shrunk the market and many brands, with good value in their traditional markets is finding that its brand name, color schemes, or other aspects are negatively or inappropriately viewed in the countries or cultures where it’s trying to expand. So expanding to newer markets mostly involves changes in some of these aspects for the brand.
  • Changes in Product Line: Branding is decided even before product line is finalized. So when new products are added or some of the products are replaced or withdrawn, the brand’s name or look may not be representing the product line anymore. This necessitates rebranding.
  • Shifting Competition: Sometimes competition moves faster and capture market share and mind share, and rebranding may be the only way to move forward and differentiate from the competition, in order to regain lost market share. 
  • A Shift in Focus: Not only the competition, even the market itself changes by time. New product segments are appearing due to changes in technology and consumer preferences. For example, a computer maker might realise that many mature consumers are using hardware products, or a nail spa may notice that men are getting interested in manicures and pedicures. In all these cases, a shift in focus should be met with brand update.

So we can see that there are so many reasons rebranding becomes necessary. Business owners have the tendency to become emotional with their brand and cling to it even while it’s not working to their advantage. A shift in that strategy becomes apparent. It is time you look into your brand from the customer perspective and from the point of view of public to see a rebranding is really required.

10 biggest rebrading stories of recent years.

1. When Philip Morris became Altria

Tobacco kills millions every year. Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, found that its corporate name was tainted with tobacco-related death and disease, according to a study by researchers at the University of California San Francisco. So by late 2001, they took a decion to alter the company name to the Altria Group, to safeguard other brands like Kraft from the negative associations, as per the researchers.

2. Andersen Consulting became Accenture

Accenture was born when Andersen Consulting changed it’s name onJan. 1, 2001, when a court decision broke its ties with Andersen Worldwide and Arthur Andersen. The new name ended up being a lucky coincidence, as Accenture’s former sibling company, accountant Arthur Andersen, was involved as a party in the Enron scandal.

3. When ValuJet became AirTran

When a ValuJet flight carrying 110 people crashed in the Florida Everglades in 1996, everyone in the flight was killed and its reputation nose-dived. But the company rebranded the very next year by buying a smaller company called AirTran Airways and adopting its name. 

4. When Kentucky Fried Chicken changed to KFC

Millions munch the fried chicken from KFC everyday. But the company want to hide that ‘fried’ word from the company name. So in 1991, Kentucky Fried Chicken began to subtly rebrand by shifting the focus to its initials, KFC. At that time, there were different reasons such as rumors that it was because KFC’s chicken didn’t really contain chicken, or that the company didn’t want to pay royalties to Kentucky. The reason was apparently to remove the word “fried” from the name, which management felt gave the brand unhealthy connotations.

5. Datsun changed to Nissan

Datsun was well know in the United States in 70s as fuel efficient Japanese cars after fuel prices incrased considerably during the time. But the company rebranded to Nissan in 1981 in order to unify all its cars under one brand. Though it made much sense, company had considerable losses due to the popularity Datsun had in the American public.

6. Blackwater to Xe and then ACADEMI

Blackwater Worldwide came under immense scrutiny in the late 2000s when security contractor was involved in many questionable incidents, including a 2007 shootout in Iraq that killed 17 people. Blackwater security guards were convicted and jailed for their role in the shooting. In 2009, they rebranded as Xe Services. Then, in 2011, they were sold, got new leadership, and became a company known as ACADEMI. In 2014, ACADEMI acquired Triple Canopy, and the parent company took on the name of Constellis Holdings.

7. WWF becomes WWE

World Wrestling Federation had to change their name to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc due to a legal conflict with the World Wildlife Fund over the use of the acronym WWF. In 2002, the wrestling entity finally obliged to change its name to avoid tangling with WWF’s pandas.

8. Lucky and GoldStar Co., Ltd shortened to became LG Electronics

South Korean LG started in 1947 as Lucky, a chemical company producing cosmetics and plastics; and later  GoldStar is started, which sold electronics. The brand changed its name to LG in 1995 to cater to the western market. And a new slogan, “Life’s Good.” also adopted. ​

9. When Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web became Yahoo!

Yahoo was originally named “Jerry’s guide to the world wide web” The site was called after founder Jerry Yang, who created it with David Filo in 1994, when they were studying together at Stanford. In 1995, we saw them rebranding it to Yahoo.

10. When BackRub became Google

Google was initially named as BackRub by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The search engine operated on Stanford servers around an year, when they had bandwidth issues have to move out. Following year, they registered and rest is well known.

There is no better way to rebrand than selecting the most suitable brand name from Brandemy.

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Proactive Rebranding

Sometimes a company sees a reason to rebrand to seize an opportunity or thwart potential threats in the future. For example, proactive rebranding might happen in the following situations:

  • Predicted Growth: When a company is preparing for expected growth, particularly international growth, it might rebrand products and services into a consolidated brand. This is often done for consistency and to save money over time. This type of rebranding is also done when a company simply needs to create a greater sense of brand unity across its business.
  • New Line of Business or Market: When a company enters into a new line of business or market that is not cohesive to the existing brand identity, a rebranding might be in order. Remember when Apple was known as Apple Computer? As the company evolved into new lines of business beyond computers, the original brand name was too restrictive. With a simple snip to the ancillary word in the brand name in 2002 (which most people didn’t use anymore), the brand was ready for new growth and opportunities.
  • New Audience: When a company wants to appeal to a new audience, a rebranding might be necessary. Keep in mind, the rebranding might not require an actual name or logo change. Think of McDonald’s referring to itself as MickeyD’s in commercials to target a different demographic from its traditional family audience.
  • Relevancy: When a company realizes its brand is losing relevancy in consumers’ minds, it might be time to rebrand. The Yellow Pages rebranding is a perfect example. With the use of printed Yellow Pages directories declining, Yellow Pages rebranded to YP and began to focus more attention on the digital space making it significantly more relevant.

Reactive Rebranding

Other times, companies rebrand in reaction to an event that is so significant that the existing brand must be changed. For example, reactive rebranding might happen in situations like the ones listed below:

  • Merger or Acquisition: When companies merge or acquire other companies (and even when they break apart), rebrandings are often required. That’s how we’ve gotten brand names like Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Bank of New York Mellon. When AT&T broke up into three separate companies in the late 1990s, Lucent Technologies was born. These types of rebrandings are very common and often go through multiple iterations.
  • Legal Issues: There are a number of different legal issues that could cause a company to rebrand. Trademarks are often at the root of these rebranding examples. That’s why it’s so important to conduct an exhaustive trademark search and obtain the trademark rights to your brand name before you launch it.
  • Competitive Influences: Sometimes a company’s competitors’ activities can be the catalyst to a rebranding. When a competitor renders your brand useless or dated, a rebranding could help you regain a foothold in your market and give you the facelift you need to effectively strike back.
  • Negative Publicity: Remember a company called Andersen Consulting? It was part of a larger company along with the accounting firm Arthur Andersen that was tied to the collapse of Enron. Andersen Consulting was granted independence from its parent company in 2000, and on New Year’s Day 2001, the consulting company was reborn as Accenture, representing a great example of effective rebranding in response to negative publicity.
  • Rebranding Disasters
     1. BP.BP redesigned its logo so that the company might appear more ecofriendly. Naturally, nobody noticed until BP was responsible for the largest oil spill of all time. At that point, the new logo suddenly became woefully ironic.
     1. Gap’s 100 Million Dollar GradientGap used the same logo for longer than most graphic designers have been alive, so the decision to try out a new one was at least understandable. What I can’t understand is their urge to replace their iconic stretchy serifs with Helvetica and a little gradient box capable of pleasing nobody. And wait, it cost how much?The outcry on their surprise unveiling of this new logo was so bad that they had to return to the original after just one week. Lesson learned: If your current look works, a redesign should enhance it or put a new spin on it, not turn it into a tasteless mush.Gap Logos Final

    5. Kraft Foods.
  • Kraft Foods’ original logo was a globally recognized icon. When the company changed it in 2009, consumers complained so vehemently that the company returned to the original. No word on how many $M they lost, but that can’t have been cheap.

     6. MasterCard.It’s hard to understand what MasterCard was trying to accomplish by making its simple, universally recognized logo into something more complicated. Whatever the case, the change was short-lived and the old logo came back. 

7. Netflix.

In a move that confused everybody, Netflix announced it would change the name of its DVD-shipping business to Qwikster. Since this made no sense to anybody, it was soon withdrawn. No word on whether the genius who thought this one up got fired.


Rebranding process: from high-level strategy to meticulous execution.

To tell a brand story that is worthy of your company and resonates with your client is not an easy task. Especially if you’re doing a total rebrand, this process should involve high-level strategy, considerable research, careful planning, and team-wide collaboration.

1. Start with your mission, vision and values.

Great, succinct view of a company’s mission, values and vision. By Dasocreative

If your company doesn’t already have a clearly spelled-out mission, vision, and list of values, this is a great time to bring the team together to come up with these important cornerstones of the brand. Keep these in front of you and refer to them constantly to ensure that the branding choices are true to the company’s core beliefs.

2. Have a holistic strategy.

Rebranding is not just about a new logo or website, but about the entire look and feel of the brand that you reflect to the world. Make sure that there’s a consistent and cohesive strategy that spans all elements (logo, packaging, signage, flyers, ads, etc.) and channels of your brand (digital, social, brick-and-mortar presence, etc.). If you’re doing a partial rebrand, this is especially important to keep in mind, as the newly-upgraded brand elements need to make sense when coupled with the existing ones. A new, fun mascot logo would clash with the more serious voice in website and social media, so consider these constraints.

3. Analyze what to keep and what to discard from your current branding.

Before you toss everything, consider what may already be working well in your brand. Typically, you may want to keep at least your company name. Ideally, some elements of your current brand will be preserved, so that there’s a feel of continuity when you rebrand, and you don’t lose the elements that already resonate with your target audience. Basically: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Recycling is good for the environment, and for your brand too; don’t toss everything away when rebranding. By danielfarvest

4. Analyze the market and competition.

Research what’s working among your competitors, the trends in the market, as well as the new trends in branding, in order to ensure an informed and contemporary upgrade. However, don’t go after the very latest branding trend if that doesn’t speak to your company values and identity. The goal here is not to be bleeding-edge (i.e. taking “leading edge” a step too far), but to keep brand longevity in mind.

5. Make this a collaborative process.

Involve key stakeholders from the start to get their buy-in and feedback. Involve all departments of the company—leadership, business, design, engineering, marketing—and use this as an exercise to strengthen the company culture. You can even involve your customers by asking their feedback via polls on different branding elements, such as logos or taglines. Throw in a giveaway to the poll to increase participation and engagement!

Bring the team together to build a stronger company while rebranding. By Henrylim

6. Project-manage the rebranding, from brainstorm to release.

A rebrand, especially one that completely overhauls your look-and-feel, can be a very effort- and time-intensive process. This is why project management is essential to completing a successful rebrand within the deadline and budget. Project management can be as simple as a spreadsheet that documents projections of timelines, deliverables, risks (with mitigation plans), and team responsibilities for each work-package.

7. Finally, tell the world!

Spread the word about your awesome new brand! By KreatanK

You’ve worked hard on this, so be proud of your new or refreshed brand. When you showcase the changes, make sure to transparently share the why and how with your target audience. This way you minimize the risk of confusing your customers when they encounter the changes, and you can also strengthen their brand loyalty by involving them in your brand story.

Whether your company simply needs a facelift or a completely new brand identity to reflect its evolution, rebranding is instrumental in molding the right perception. There’s value in the process as well as in the end result. Take rebranding as a great opportunity to strengthen and reaffirm your company’s identity and values, both internally with your employee base and externally with your customers.

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