Rebranding: Those Who Got It Right (and Wrong)

By Ashlee Dixon, November 16, 2017

Branding is one of the most important steps for a business. How do you want to be perceived by your customers? Trustworthy and better than the competition most likely.

Related Post: Why Brands Need to Be Extra Careful When Pairing With Celebrities

But once you have a brand, it’s hard work to keep it perfect. Consumers hold your brand up to high standards. And if you’re not up to par, you could lose the trust of your consumers and your employees.

So, when bad things happen (e.g. no longer relevant with the trends, sluggish performance), what are you left to do?



Source: Giphy

Although bad times often call for a branding makeover, these aren’t the only times when rebranding might be required. Sometimes rebranding is necessary when there’s an acquisition, expansion, change in company strategy, or even moving with the times.

Related Post: Should You Sell Out? Pros and Cons of Acquisition by a Big Brand

Let’s take a look into some companies who rebranded and the lessons we can learn from them.

Rebranding Gone Wrong

1. Dr. Pepper

Alright, I’m just going to dive right into this one with the worst possible company rebrand in recent times: Dr. Pepper. 

I mean, are we serious? IT’S NOT FOR WOMEN?

We understand you’re trying to entice men to purchase your diet soda, but you couldn’t have come up with a creative campaign that wasn’t utterly sexist?

Alright, enough with my rant. This rebranding advertisement speaks for itself.

Related Post: 3 Ways to Avoid Being a “Thirsty” Brand

Tip #1: Never offend your consumers.

2. Syfy

Although less offensive (and not intentional), Syfy’s rebranding was still a huge blunder.

The channel was having a hard time with the name ‘SciFi.’ They couldn’t trademark the term, so they decided to rebrand to a name that sounded identical, but had a different spelling. An understandable reason to rebrand, right?

But there was a problem. Well, you see, Syfy is actually a term used to describe syphilis. You can see how this could cause some controversy. Instead of improving their brand and finally being able to trademark their channel, Syfy was a laughing stock.

Eight years later and they’ve now reached their 25-year anniversary. Congrats, Syfy and thank you for teaching us a valuable lesson when it comes to rebranding!

Tip #2: Research extensively before committing to a rebrand.

3. GAP

Like many rebranding stories, GAP felt they needed to move with the trends and upgrade their appearance.


Source: UnitPartners

Although, their overall brand was untarnished, consumers were not a fan. And do you blame them? Their idea for a new logo was bland and boring.

What’s the point?

Fortunately, GAP decided to ditch the ‘new’ logo after just six days and went back to the GAP we all know and love. Thank god.

Tip #3: It might seem like a good idea in your mind, but make sure you think of your consumer’s perspective.

Rebranding Done Right

Although there are some pretty bad rebranding attempts, there are also a ton of great ones.

1. Airbnb

This is my favorite rebranding story. Airbnb hired creative agency Design Studio to rebrand their company in 2014. And boy, did they do a good job!


Source: TheBrandingJournal

They created a logo with a purpose and a website that showed the true meaning of the company (their brand). Today, Airbnb is flourishing like crazy.

The company wanted the idea of ‘belonging’ to be the idea defining Airbnb. The rebrand made this possible. They’re finally able to show their consumers what they’re all about.

Tip #4: Sometimes it’s best to hire a trustworthy agency to execute your rebranding strategy.

2. McDonalds

I remember seeing my first “fancy” McDonald’s a couple years ago. I thought: Wow, when did McDonald’s get classy?

After the franchise started receiving bad publicity, they took matters into their own hands and decided rebranding was the way to go. They understood their audience was changing. So, they hopped in their “Mickey D’s” boat and started riding the trend wave.  

Related Post: How to Identify and Capitalize on a Marketing Trend


Source: RoadWarriorCreative

Now you can even decide between healthy choices when stopping by the rebranded food chain.

Tip #5: Sometimes a complete rebrand is necessary for brand survival.

3. Old Spice

Old Spice had it rough. The brand for a long time was considered only for older men. 

I have to be honest, I remember when my brothers started using it, and I wondered why they wanted to smell like my dad so badly. I thought it was weird.

But Old Spice knew where they stood with their audience, and they weren’t going to stand for it any longer. They rebranded and started getting some of the younger audience to jump on board.

I mean, they did launch this campaign during the Super Bowl. And who doesn’t partake in that American holiday?

Tip #6: If you want to be known for something different, rebrand. But be careful and strategic while doing it.


Rebranding can be a disaster or it can help you build trust and be the greatest thing you’ve ever done for your company.

Make sure you take time to plan and gather the opinions of the people who matter before going full out Dr. Pepper on your users.

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Tags: Rebranding

Ashlee Dixon

Ashlee Dixon

Ashlee is the former Content Writer and Digital Specialist for eZanga and its ad fraud management platform, Anura. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English. On weekends, you can usually find her curled up next to her cat and watching Netflix with a glass of wine in hand. More Articles by Ashlee Dixon