6 Reasons to Rebrand (and the Company Success Stories to Prove It)

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Ready for a rebrand? 

The question often strikes fear in the hearts of business leaders. It shouldn’t. Rebranding is inevitable. Every company undergoes a rebrand—and sometimes multiple rebrands—throughout its lifetime. 

Rebranding offers a powerful way to realign a company’s focus and refine its position. The practice evaluates the business, its products and customers, and how it fits within the market. 

Ask yourself “Does what we look like, stand for, and communicate match the needs of our customers?”

The answer is often “No, but…

  • Rebranding is too much work.
  • Our logo is sacred and has been with us from the beginning.
  • Changing things is expensive.
  • People won’t know who we are if we rebrand.”

When a brand audit indicates it’s time to change, staying the same becomes the greater risk to your organization. That’s because rebrands are opportunities—to grow the business, stay relevant, and better compete. 

Rebranding comes in all shapes, sizes, and a variety of reasons. The key is approaching it strategically and creatively. Here’s some inspiration from companies leading the way. 

Appeal to a New Audience

Old Spice discovered women purchase 60% of all body washes and have a strong influence over what products men use. The company started targeting women as a key consumer with “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” campaign and using more female-centric marketing channels. Website traffic increased 300% and sales grew 125% within 12 months.   

Starbucks Coffee no longer fit the brand when the company expanded to a full food menu and other beverages. Wanting to convey a more-than-coffee message, the company dropped the last part of its name. Food now represents 22% of Starbucks sales.

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Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded when it embraced its transformation as a beverage company selling donuts, not a donut company selling beverages. Now Dunkin’ earns more than 60% of its sales from coffee and coffee-related drinks.

Stay Relevant to Existing Customers

Midol was a category leader with strong sales, but research showed women did not know the brand’s values and couldn’t recall its packaging. The branding blended in with similar over-the-counter products. The company redesigned its look using bold, modern colors appealing to a Gen Z audience. The new packaging color palette better demonstrated Midol’s product range. The brand shed a look designed around female modesty to one exemplifying confidence. 

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Not all rebrands require large changes and a lot of flash. Sometimes subtle updates make a big difference. Fast Company compared its three visual principles—sophisticated, playful, and gender neutral—to changing reader preferences. There was a disconnect. The magazine swapped masculine-looking bold, all-caps type for a softer appearance using upper and lower case. A dancing page number layout offered a more playful feel. Just these simple changes helped the magazine better appeal to its readers. 

Improve Your Search Engine Optimization

Businesses worry they will lose their Google ranking or that consumers won’t find them online if they rebrand. Actually, rebranding offers an opportunity to improve both. Redesigning a website, adopting a more unique URL, or publishing content related to the change can give your brand a long-term digital boost. 

Remember Match Box? Probably not because most of us know it as Tinder. The dating app’s name was too much like competitor Tinder changed its name and branding to distinguish itself. The company now controls 29% of the lucrative dating market.

Boost Sales

Olive Garden comprised 56% of parent company Darden’s portfolio and sales were declining. The brand’s old-world image just seemed old. The chain underwent what it called a “brand renaissance” with a modern logo, refreshed restaurants, and new menu. The updates appealed to a wider audience of different ages and food preferences to return the brand to year-over-year sales growth.

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Attract the Right Clients

Companies with staying power know how to segment their audience and develop niche dominance. Restoration Hardware started as a business selling hard-to-find home fixtures. The company grew to become an upscale home furnishings retailer. The name no longer fit the brand and made Ace and Lowe’s seem like low-cost competitors. The company now goes by RH with branding to reflect its positioning as a $7 billion lifestyle brand for high-end customers.

Change Your Image

Businesses must evolve with changing cultural norms or risk being a cancel culture casualty. Smith and Wesson, plagued by the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S., now operates as American Outdoor Brands. The rebrand included defining four brand lanes for the: Adventurer (outdoor enthusiast), Harvester (hunter), Marksman (competitive shooter), and Defender (safety and security).

Weight Watchers, wanting to get away from negative cultural norms on dieting, rebranded to WW. The brand now reflects a commitment to wellness and a healthy lifestyle, not losing weight. 

If you’re a millennial reader, or were the parent of one, you probably have a strong opinion on Abercrombie and Fitch in its heyday. Scantily clad teen models, sexually suggestive advertising, and a CEO openly admitting the company catered only to attractive people. The brand eventually became so hated it nearly died. A rebrand led the company’s turnaround that made it a sales hero for the 2022 retail season. The brand now targets a young professional with advertising focused on the clothes rather than the body wearing them. The retailer limits featuring the logo on its apparel, is more size inclusive, and embraces a racially diverse consumer. 

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As your company evolves, your brand should too. A good rebrand is about discovering who you are, defining and designing what that looks like, and then applying the messaging and personality to everything. 

What is your brand saying to customers? 

If you’re worried something is getting lost in translation, a brand audit will uncover data-driven insights to inform your business strategy. Take advantage of Boldthink’s brand audit workbook to get started.

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