When branding blunders become legends: A guide to what not to do when refreshing your brand

Your brand is an essential part of your success. It is what makes you noticeable and, equally, what sets you apart from your competition.

Many firms are quite protective of their branding (and rightly so), but there comes a time in many practices lifecycle where a new brand is necessary.

Rebranding can seem like walking a tightrope. Go to far one way or the other and you might undo all those years of hard work building recognition within your market.

However, if you get it just right it can completely revitalise perceptions of your firm and help you reach into new audiences.

Before we look into what makes a successful rebranding, we thought it might be useful (and slightly entertaining) to look into the miss-steps of others who failed to find the right balance.

Twitter’s Flight to X – Lost in Space?

Remember when Twitter decided to boldly go where no brand had chosen to venture before, rebranding itself as X?

While its owner Elon Musk might be used to having out of this world ideas in his other ventures, such as SpaceX, his sudden decision to rebrand left millions of users suddenly tweeting in confusion.

The move was less of a graceful evolution and more of a galactic leap into the unknown, with many wondering if their beloved bird had flown too close to the sun… or into a black hole.

As we now know, it was the latter. While Twitter was already experiencing problems before the rebrand it has seen user numbers and ad revenues fall significantly in response.

Royal Mail’s Identity Crisis as Consignia

Who remembers Consignia? The answer is very few people. In fact, it has become a pub quiz favourite based on its obscurity.

Once upon a time, Royal Mail decided Consignia was a name that truly reflected its heritage and mission.

Unfortunately, this message wasn’t conveyed to the general public, leaving many to wonder why such an illustrious organisation had chosen a name that sounded like a long forgotten Vauxhall model.

New Coke’s recipe for disaster

During the Coca-Cola wars of the 1980’s, in an attempt to do battle with their rivals, Pepsi, the original Coca-Cola released new branding and a new recipe – New Coke.

Overnight there were complaints from millions of consumers and despite a multi-million dollar marketing and rebranding exercise New Coke only lasted 77 days, before Classic Coca-Cola was reintroduced.

Where did these brands go so wrong?

These tales of branding woe aren’t just for our entertainment. They’re packed with lessons on where the tightrope of rebranding can wobble most:

  1. Forgetting your roots: A brand’s history and identity are its soul. Lose that, and you’re just a body wandering the marketplace, looking for where you belong.
  2. Underestimating customer attachment: Never assume your customers are ready for a change. They’ve built a relationship with your brand.
  3. Confusing brand evolution with revolution: Evolution is about adaptation and growth, while revolution is about starting over again.
  4. Neglecting market research: Market research is like a map during a rebrand. Without it, you’re just wandering in the dark, hoping you don’t walk into a wall or drop off a cliff.
  5. Ignoring feedback: In the age of social media, feedback is instant and loud. Ignore it at your peril. If your customers are shouting that they hate the new logo, they’re not just being dramatic – they’re probably right. It sometimes pays to look at focus groups, so you don’t become an echo chamber when making important decisions.

In the end, rebranding can be a powerful tool for growth and rejuvenation, but it’s also fraught with potential pitfalls if not handled correctly.

The key to a successful rebrand lies in knowing your brand, your market, and your customers inside and out to create a new brand and assets that strike the right tone.

If you are thinking of updating your branding it pays to seek the help of professionals. For almost 30 years, our team at JE Consulting has been helping firms of all shape and size to create new brands that resonate with their customers and market.

To find out how we can help you, please get in touch.

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