5 rebranding fails you should avoid

Bad branding doesn’t just affect how customers perceive your logo. It can affect how well your brand differentiates itself from competitors, whether or not people recognize your company, and if people still associate your brand with the correct industry. 

Instead of making all the rebranding mistakes yourself, there’s a lot you can learn from the failures of other branding initiatives. In this article, we’ll look at five of the biggest branding mistakes and the lessons of each so you don’t repeat them in your next rebranding campaign. 

Learn from the mistakes of these notable brands

1. Don’t remove elements that help people recognize your brand

In 2009, Tropicana introduced a new design for its orange juice packaging. The new packaging removed the iconic orange and straw and replaced it with a glass of orange liquid. Tropicana also changed the color and font of its name. 

This resulted in packaging that looked generic and made it difficult for customers to differentiate Tropicana from other brands. The redesign failed, and Tropicana changed back to its previous design just a few weeks later. 

What can we learn? Don’t change elements just because you’ve had the same design for a while. Figure out your organization’s true goals. If you’re looking to improve profits or market share, an updated brand may not be the best route — especially if you have an easily recognizable brand. 

2. Don’t discount the emotional connection people have with your brand

Gap spent decades positioning itself as a beloved brand, but in 2010 when the recession was impacting sales, leadership decided to rebrand and refresh. Thinking they needed a modern approach, they scrapped the logo and brand messaging. 

The new logo was simplistic and ignored the rich heritage the company had built over the years. This resulted in a quick and aggressive backlash from the community, which forced Gap to backtrack on a multimillion-dollar investment. 

What can we learn? Economic downturn doesn’t necessarily mean you should throw away years of brand equity. If you decide to rebrand, consider which parts of your brand people love and which parts would actually benefit from improvement. 

3. Don’t ignore your target market

In 2011, JC Penney announced that it would be refreshing its brand with a new logo and direction. The new logo was modern, which might have worked for some industries, but it didn’t resonate with the retailer’s traditional middle-class audience.

Another problem with the rebranding initiative was that many of the elements weren’t cohesive. For example, JC Penney decided to eliminate promotional sale prices and use a boutique-inspired strategy while still trying to make low prices one of its competitive advantages — that made it hard to deliver on the brand promise and obscured the company’s purpose. 

What can we learn? The best branding strategies start with your customers’ preferences, not your own. At the very least, your customer base should validate your branding before you implement it. Customer research is key to successful rebranding. 

4. Don’t limit rebranding to visual elements

Comcast decided to change its name and logo in 2010 to fix the customer perception of poor customer service. The company went from Comcast to Xfinity. However, when changing the brand’s visual and written elements, the company focused more on the branding than the core problem — customer service quality. 

What can we learn? Branding encapsulates all aspects of your business, including how you deliver your products and services. When rebranding, it’s important to ensure that the way you do business helps you fulfill your brand promise. This might require restructuring and training within your organization. 

5. Don’t oversell the magnitude of your rebranding

In 2013, Yahoo developed an exciting marketing campaign centered on rebranding the company logo. For 30 days, the company released a different version of the logo. The campaign was engaging and got people excited about the change. 

However, at the end of the campaign, Yahoo released a logo not too different from the previous design — deflating all the buzz generated during the campaign. 

What can we learn? Make sure your PR efforts that promote your rebranding rollout match the change that people expect. Planning your rebranding rollout also requires strategizing the release of different brand elements, cataloging brand assets, and updating relevant mediums. 

Build the foundation for future growth with a successful rebranding

The failures discussed in this article don’t mean rebranding isn’t worth it. Many companies have performed spectacularly after a rebrand. Just look at the examples of Apple, Old Spice, and Target. 

The key to success is rebranding at the right time, protecting the best parts of your brand, and appealing to the right audience. Additionally, you need to find out what your customers think. 

Customer research can help you make rebranding decisions that propel your business forward. Use Jotform to easily collect and organize the data that powers your brand decisions. With Jotform, you can create and distribute powerful forms that customers can access from anywhere. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

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