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Why do some companies decide to rebrand?

Brand Creation & Branding - Makin

Rebranding is a significant undertaking that requires a lot of resources, time, and effort. 

Companies often rebrand to keep up with the changing times, stay relevant, and appeal to new audiences. 

In this post, we will explore the reasons companies decide to rebrand.

Outdated image or brand identity

A company’s brand identity is its personality, voice, and visual elements used to communicate with its target audience. It is the first thing people see and remember when they hear the company’s name. 

A brand identity can become outdated, and a company may rebrand to stay fresh and relevant. For example, in the early 2000s, Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded to Dunkin’ to reflect its growing focus on coffee and other drinks. The company wanted to emphasise that it was more than just a doughnut shop and had expanded its offerings.

Another example is Pepsi, which rebranded its logo and visual identity in 2021 to reflect its commitment to sustainability and social justice. The new logo features a circular design with a blue and red colour scheme, representing unity and harmony. The new identity aims to appeal to younger audiences and reflect the changing values of the company.

Rebranding to update an outdated image or brand identity can help a company stay relevant and attract new customers.

Change in target audience or market.

A company’s target audience can change over time, and a rebrand may be necessary to appeal to a new demographic. Harley-Davidson, a company known for its motorcycles, decided to rebrand in 2018 to reach a younger audience. 

The company’s traditional customer base was ageing, and Harley-Davidson wanted to attract younger riders interested in adventure and exploration. The company’s new logo and messaging emphasised these values and aimed to appeal to a more diverse audience.

Similarly, companies may rebrand when entering a new market. For example, Starbucks rebranded its logo in 2011 to reflect its expansion into international markets. The new logo removed the “Starbucks Coffee” text and focused on the siren icon, which is recognisable worldwide. The rebranding aimed to make Starbucks more appealing to global audiences and reflect the company’s commitment to providing a unique coffee experience.

Rebranding to appeal to a new target audience or market can help a company expand its customer base and increase revenue.

Mergers or acquisitions

When companies merge or acquire other companies, a rebrand may be necessary to reflect the new entity’s values and identity. 

In 2016, Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, creating the world’s largest hotel chain. The new company needed a new name and visual identity to reflect its size and scope. The company kept the Marriott name and logo but added the “Marriott International” tagline to reflect the merger.

When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, it allowed the photo-sharing app to keep its name and logo but added “From Facebook” to emphasise the connection between the two companies. 

Rebranding after a merger or acquisition can help create a cohesive identity and reflect the new entity’s values and goals.

Legal reasons

Sometimes, a company may need to rebrand for legal reasons such as copyright infringement or a lawsuit. For example, in 2018, Netflix had to rebrand in Europe due to a trademark dispute with a Belgian company called “Binge.” Rebranding for legal reasons can be costly and time-consuming, but preventing legal disputes and protecting a company’s reputation is necessary.

Expanding product or service offerings

A company may decide to rebrand when expanding its product or service offerings to reflect its new focus. Google rebranded its parent company to “Alphabet” in 2015 to reflect its expansion into new markets such as healthcare and self-driving cars. The rebranding aimed to show that Google was more than just a search engine and had diversified its offerings.

Similarly, in 2020, Weight Watchers rebranded to “WW” to reflect its new focus on overall health and wellness rather than just weight loss. The company expanded its offerings to include fitness and mental health programs and wanted to reflect this new direction in its branding.

Rebranding to reflect a company’s expanding product or service offerings can help attract new customers and reflect the company’s new focus.

International expansion or localisation

A rebrand may be necessary to appeal to local audiences when a company expands into new international markets. In 2012, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) rebranded in China to appeal to local tastes. The company changed its name to “KFC” to avoid the negative connotations of “fried” and added new menu items such as congee and soy milk to appeal to Chinese tastes.

Similarly, in 2019, Airbnb rebranded in China to “Aibiying” to reflect the local pronunciation of the company’s name. The company also added features like a Chinese payment system and 24/7 customer service to appeal to Chinese travellers.

Rebranding for international expansion or localisation can help a company appeal to local audiences and avoid cultural misunderstandings.

Reputation management or crisis response

A company may rebrand to manage its reputation and respond to a crisis. For example, in 2015, Volkswagen rebranded its logo and messaging after the “diesel gate” scandal, where the company was caught cheating on emissions tests – the rebranding aimed to restore its reputation and emphasise its commitment to environmental sustainability.

Rebranding for reputation management or crisis response can help a company restore its reputation and regain the trust of its customers.

New leadership or company vision

When a company changes leadership or vision, a rebrand may be necessary to reflect the new direction. For example, in 2012, Microsoft rebranded to reflect its new focus on cloud computing and artificial intelligence. The new logo and messaging aimed to reflect the company’s unique vision and emphasise its commitment to innovation.

Rebranding for new leadership or company vision can help a company communicate its new direction and attract new customers.

Care And Attention

Rebranding can be daunting for any company, but staying relevant in an ever-changing market is often necessary. Companies may rebrand for various reasons, such as changing target audiences, expanding product offerings, mergers or acquisitions, and legal reasons. Rebranding can help companies restore their reputation, communicate their new direction, and attract new customers. However, it should always be done with careful planning and consideration to avoid any negative consequences.

With the right strategy and execution, rebranding can be a powerful tool for growth and success. 

What do you think about rebranding? 

Have you ever been part of a rebranding effort? 

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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