Change is a given constant. But in the corporate world, the pursuit of reinvention can sometimes lead to unexpected failures. Rebranding holds a promise of rejuvenation and fresh beginnings. Yet, behind this marketing tool lies cautionary tales that would leave you double-checking your decisions.
Massive losses and customer boycotts can also affect established companies like 7Slots if they deviate from the features their users love most. There's one thing to remember – even the boldest marketing strategies can yield unforeseen results. Before rebranding, learn about costly mistakes already made by renowned brands to never follow their suit.
Top Rebranding Mistakes
Rebranding goes beyond a name change and a new fancy logo. The truth is that customers connect with a brand on many levels. The brand's name and emblem tend to elicit a reaction. Often, love and acceptance, and rebranding could ruin it all. So why do companies chase a clean slate?
Before we begin, here are a few things that could lead to failed rebranding:
- An undefined problem: You should know the impulse for changing your business' name or logo;
- Poor survey: Find out what customers love about your brand and retain those features as best as possible;
- Compelling marketing: There are several stages to rebranding. Ensure your customers are somehow in the loop. Devise a communication plan that is customer-facing.
Now that you know how to mitigate rebranding concerns, let's jump into the 5 top marketing failures.
In 2009, PepsiCo's famous juice brand took a stab at rebranding in partnership with Arnell, a respected marketing agency. The result? Millions of dollars were lost, and one company went out of business. PepsiCo spent over $35 million on the brand identity effort, including advertising campaigns. The new packaging was a generic design, and Tropicana lost its appeal, all in the name of being modern. Two months after its launch, the company lost 30 million dollars from plummeting sales. They returned to their original design, and in a twist of fate, Arnell went out of business a couple of years later.
There is little sense in changing an effective design, and this is something we can learn from MasterCard's mistakes. The company spent $1.5 million in 2006 to change its logo. The goal was to represent its brand values – advancing relationships – in its logo. They were harshly criticized, so harshly that they returned to the old design.
Thankfully, ten years later, they revised the design again with the help of Pentagram, removing only the company's name from the logo. This proves that they had a timeless design all along.
Following a slump in sales two years prior, this American clothing company decided to let go of an identity that had served them for over 20 years. In the third quarter of 2010, it changed its famous logo from a bold font in a square to a generic Helvetica font, embracing a more modern image. But little did they know that their consumers loved the old design, as it reflected what GAP was known for – reliability and quality. They may not have the best brand identity change award, but they made the fastest backtrack in history following the criticism. Only six days after, they reverted to their old logo, $100 million short.
In one of the most epic fails of all time, Leeds United chose to change a tradition of almost one century. In 2018, the football club, which has existed since 1919, changed its logo, removing the white rose it was well known for and adding an image of the Leeds salute.
Alas, this image was too close to that on the Galviscon medicine for heartburn. They overstated fan loyalty, as fans turned the new brand design into a caricature, coming up with their logos and sharing them on the Internet. They even launched a boycott petition, which got signed by over 77,000 fans. Shortly after, Leeds reverted to their old design, losing around the £100 million benchmark.
The United Kingdom is known for its national postal service, The Royal Mail. Now imagine how big a brand that serves the entire country's population would be. In 2001, these guys decided that it was time to evolve. They wanted a name encompassing all their services since they do more than parcel delivery. They went with the title, Consignia, spending about £1.5 million to change their name and logo.
The backlash they received is legendary! Customers saw this as a slander on a 500-year tradition, as the company represented a state institution. After 15 months of criticism, they spent another £1 million to return to their original name, Royal Mail, and reverse the criticism triggered by their disregard for British heritage.
Stay Clear of Costly Mistakes!
The tales of rebranding mishaps are over, and one resounding lesson echoes—the importance of carefully treading the transformation journey. Humility and foresight are essential for a successful rebranding. We call you to take a leave from the books of these brands. Their unexpected twists should inform your decisions so you don't make another costly mistake.