3 Successful Rebranding Case Studies and the Top Takeaways

3 Successful Rebranding Case Studies and the Top Takeaways

Rebranding can transform a brand’s image and boost customer engagement and profits. 

Rebranding can be a game-changing strategy for companies looking to enhance their image, adapt to evolving consumer preferences and reposition themselves in the market. Essentially, it’s a marketing strategy that involves changing elements like the brand’s name, color scheme, logo or overall design concept to create a fresh corporate image. The extent of the rebranding effort can vary depending on the brand’s goals and strategy. For instance, many popular brands have undergone major rebranding efforts, including changes to their name, logo and color schemes. This includes Facebook’s parent company rebranding as “Meta”, AuctionWeb becoming “eBay” and Burbn transforming into “Instagram”.

Although there have been instances of successful rebranding strategies, others have unfortunately failed to achieve their desired outcome due to poor execution or a lack of adherence to fundamental principles. A recent example of this can be seen in Twitter’s rebranding effort, which was spearheaded by Elon Musk himself and resulted in modifications to the platform’s name and logo. The decision to drop the iconic bird logo from various user interface elements signified a departure from the familiar Twitter brand identity. 

Branding experts and agencies have observed a significant decrease in Twitter’s value since the move, labeling it a judgment error. Renaming the product and removing the recognizable logo may have confused users and investors. The incident serves as a reminder that rebranding should be approached cautiously, and potential consequences should be carefully considered before making major changes.

In this article, we will explore some extraordinary tales of successful rebranding that have left a lasting mark on the business world. These stories illustrate how companies have reinvented themselves, breathed new life into their brand identities and captivated their target audiences. 

Burberry

Burberry, a British luxury fashion brand known for its iconic check pattern and high-quality outerwear, embarked on a significant rebranding journey to modernize its image and appeal to a new generation of consumers. 

In the early 2000s, Burberry struggled with issues, such as the evolving cultural landscape following the decline of aristocratic influence, changing demand trends and an association with a “chav” culture. The term chav referred to individuals in London who wore designer clothing but lacked refinement, class, manners and taste. These factors threatened to diminish Burberry’s exclusivity and make it appear outdated.

However, when Angela Ahrendts took on the role of chief executive in 2006, she strategically aimed to cut the brand’s ties with the chav culture. Believing that affluent influencers or celebrities held the solution, she carefully chose prominent individuals to be associated with the brand, generating positive attention. Ahrendts enlisted figures like Eddie Redmayne and Emma Watson as brand representatives. The brand reached new heights when Romeo Beckham showcased the iconic Burberry trench coats in magazine advertisements. 

This pivotal moment marked a turning point, capturing customers’ attention and shifting their perception of the brand. Associating a well-known figure like Romeo Beckham with Burberry created a strong visual impact and conveyed a sense of style and authenticity, helping Burberry reach its desired target audience.

Old Spice

Old Spice, a classic men’s grooming brand with a long history, faced challenges in terms of its image and appeal to younger consumers. To address this, in 2010, an ad campaign titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was launched, starring actor Isaiah Mustafa, who later became recognized as The Old Spice Guy. In the 30-second ad, the charismatic Mustafa takes you through the possibilities that arise “when your man smells like Old Spice, not a lady”. Soon, discussions about it began to spread across platforms like Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), leading to playful videos being created on YouTube. 

The campaign achieved viral success, both as a remarkable rebranding effort resonating with younger consumers and an exceptionally effective marketing strategy. The sales of Old Spice Body Wash, which were already increasing, experienced a significant boost of 55 percent three months after the initial TV commercial aired. This surge further intensified, reaching a remarkable 107 percent increase when the response videos started to be released.

Lego

Lego, the renowned Danish toy brand famous for its colorful plastic building blocks, underwent a rebranding initiative to cater to evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements. Despite enjoying widespread popularity and profitability in the 20th century, Lego faced a decline in sales around 2003, which put the company on the brink of financial collapse. 

As electronic games and computers emerged as popular entertainment options, the brand faced the risk of losing its market share if it failed to adapt to the changing consumer landscape. Lego conducted extensive research, including market analysis, ethnographic studies and psychological research, to understand better how people, especially children, interact with their products. 

Through this process, the brand discovered that its blocks could be used in original and derivative ways, from creating unique designs to recreating popular movie scenes. In response, Lego formed partnerships with brands like Star Wars, Nintendo and Jurassic Park to create special Lego sets that would appeal to fans of these franchises. Additionally, Lego released a successful movie in 2014 that generated nearly US$500 million in revenue, contributing to the company’s overall sales and profits.

Balancing risks and rewards

The process of rebranding is a vital aspect of a brand’s journey, and it should never be underestimated. The examples above highlight some of the most notable rebranding stories but are not the only ones worth telling. For instance, Apple, Starbucks and Pepsi have also undergone significant rebranding efforts throughout their history, with each brand reimagining its image at least three times. Other notable brands, such as Harley-Davidson, Target, McDonald’s, Walmart and Pabst Blue Ribbon, have also undergone significant image changes in the past 50 years.

While rebranding can be risky, these success stories highlight the potential for revitalizing a brand and expanding its reach. They serve as a reminder that, with careful planning, strategic rebranding can yield significant rewards and shape the trajectory of a brand’s journey.

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Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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