Want More Powerful Branding? Go All In.

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Over the years, many companies have rebranded themselves to find greater success with their businesses, while some have failed miserably. Whether you are rebranding or starting from a fresh piece of white paper, the most successful brands have gone “all in.”

It’s not unusual for companies to rebrand their products to shift their brand’s focus or avert themselves from controversy. The latest example of a mediocre effort by a brand is the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which recently announced a permanent name change from its forebear — Washington Redskins — to Washington Commanders. Retiring the controversial Redskins name and logo for ultimately good took nearly two years.

Rebranding a team of this size and popularity is estimated to cost millions, but analysts suggest that the change will be worth it if it helps win back its shrinking fanbase. That’s the hard part. And so far, fan reactions have been mixed.

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This situation was very similar to the Canadian Football League squad Edmonton Eskimos rebranding as Edmonton Elks in 2021, as Eskimo is often used as a slur towards Inuit people. Although neither the Eskimos nor the Redskins intended their name to be derogatory, as times change, cultural views shift as well.

No matter your industry or profile, rebranding can be a lengthy process requiring a lot of patience, market research and thoughtful decision-making. Here are a few examples of rebranding done right by going all in.

Going all in

What comes to mind when I say the word “Dunkin'”? Most people will automatically think about donuts, and that’s a sign that the brand has a strong foothold. That was the philosophy behind the Dunkin’ Donuts decision in 2018 to rebrand as, simply, Dunkin’. The move aligned with the company’s shift to prioritize speedy service and coffee sales. Dunkin’s adaptation illsutrared how rebranding tends to succeed best when the brand is already in use by customers.

A similar case was when Kentucky Fried Chicken rebranded as KFC. Most people already referred to the brand by its shorthand anyway, so the official change was a no-brainer.

Then there’s Energizer, which introduced new visual treatments to the brand’s iconic rabbit mascot, featuring brighter colors and packaging that helped it stand out in cluttered aisles. It was a sublte but successful refresh of familiar iconography that received a positive consumer response.

Burberry is likewise no stranger to rebranding. In the early 2000s, its iconic checkered pattern was being embraced by rowdier Brits, leading many English pubs started to ban people who wore them inside their establishments. So Burberry went all in, eventually altering its signature aesthetic to lean more toward sleek designer looks.

When rebranding is mediocre at best

Gap’s recent attempt at reimagining their classic logo did not go over well. So much so that the company reverted to its original logo within a week. The new logo just didn’t align with the perception of the consumers. It was announced in a public filings report that sales fell 8% due to this rebranding failure.

Another instance of rebranding mediocre was when Tropicana announced a change to the packaging design for its cartons for orange juice. Instead of the orange with a straw in it, the new packaging showcased a glass of orange juice. Tropicana dumped million into the package redesign that failed to resonate, contributing to a 20% dip in sales.

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How rebranding should be done

Brand identity means everything for business, and this includes personal brands as well. It’s not just about having a positive image in the minds of consumers, but forging a meaningful connection. That emotional link can generate substantial growth and help create a strong foothold in the market. The above examples exemplify the key lessons any business owner should consider as they go all in.

Try to think of rebranding as a brand evolution. What about the brand are stakeholders fond of? Don’t be foolish and get rid of those particular aspects of that people are already connected to, and consider your before renaming a business or changing its aesthetic.

Your company will likely rebrand at some time. Going all in means that you’re willing to do the work. See the signs. Ask the right questions at the right time, and ultimately make the changes you think will serve your brand best, no matter how expensive or complex. Remember: mediocre effort reaps mediocre results.


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