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Top Rebranding Mistakes To Avoid

Rebranding can be an essential tactic when your target audience is changing with the times or when you feel it’s time to “breathe new life” into the brand. However, some major businesses have embarked on ambitious rebranding campaigns in the past, only to sow confusion and alienate their loyal customer base.

Here are some of the top rebranding mistakes from big brands to avoid:

Changing your name without a compelling reason to do so

In 2011, undertook a transition to the name Anticipating a groundswell of support for the new name, the online retailer spent millions of dollars acquiring naming rights for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. What executives didn’t expect was a flurry of customer questions about the new name, as well as accusations the change happened too quickly (not giving people enough time to get used to the idea), as well as confusion with the letter “O,” long associated, almost exclusively, with Oprah Winfrey.

“If you are going to go to the time and trouble of rebranding … then think about why you are doing it and what you aim to get out of the process,” advises Cliff Findlay at “Think about the next growth steps of the business and ensure that the new brand allows you to move forward, not just look right for now.”

Failing to commit to a complete rebranding effort

Rebranding is far more than tweaking a logo or adding a new tagline to a marketing campaign. When the decision is made to rebrand a business, there must be an across-the-board commitment to integrate the rebrand into every aspect of the business. A successful rebrand incorporates all business operations from the front desk and Web design to HR policies and marketing materials.

Not long ago, the fast food chain Wendy’s updated their logo and brand, but neglected to ensure these changes were uniformly reflected in all of their products, including napkins and take-away bags.

This happens, says serial entrepreneur Ilya Posin, when businesses mistake “a minor physical brand expression like a logo or motto with the larger promise the rebrand is making to employees, customers, and clients … If your company is rebranding, commit 100 percent to the effort.”

Overlooking customer loyalty to an existing brand look

Some businesses feel compelled to rebrand in an effort to connect with a new and emerging target market, at the expense of their existing customer base. That’s what makes rebranding such a potentially risky enterprise — what appeals to an emerging target audience might not appeal to customers who have a long history with your product.

This assumption proved to be costly to Tropicana orange juice when, in 2009, the popular brand launched new packaging for their products. Many customers felt the new look was too generic and lacked the singular appeal of Tropicana’s iconic image.

“Tropicana didn’t understand the emotional connection their customers had to their morning ritual, and how orange juice played a part in their customers’ waking routine,” Posin notes.

After sales fell almost 20 percent, Tropicana returned to the original look and packaging of their popular juice products.

Lacking a brand champion to marshal top-level support

Successful rebranding involves a lot of moving parts, with input from people in many different departments. Businesses whose efforts have failed often understand, too late, that rebranding by committee results in misdirection, contradictory opinions and an overall lack of support for what needs to be done.

By contrast, a dedicated brand champion can oversee the internal development campaign, gathering the necessary data and maintaining open lines of communication. This brand champion can then work toward gaining critically important support from the top.

“Securing buy-in from key executives is crucial to a successful rebranding initiative,” says Steve Pollard, managing director for JLL, a global real estate strategy and services firm. “Without it, it’s not only more difficult to get cooperation from the various business units, but it’s also harder to rally and engage employees around the new brand.”

Rebranding succeeds when the entire business infrastructure — from CEO to front-line receptionist — gets on board with the effort.

About the author:

Claire Prendergast is the Senior Strategic Communications Manager at agencyEA, in Chicago. Her strong background in public relations guides her vision for the company’s brand and voice. She brings her media relations skills to all agencyEA marketing and public relations.