Brand stagnation is a constant threat in a marketplace with a strong focus on evolution and being keyed into current trends. In the age of the internet and social media, this issue has risen to greater importance than ever before, with one huge viral mistake or victory often being able to tip the scales to either success or failure. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most well-known examples of rebrands in modern history, and how their changes helped set them apart, for better or worse.
It might surprise younger readers to know that the domineering market force known as Apple was not always a strong competitor. In fact, there was a period during the early to mid-’90s when the brand was struggling with sales and consumer interest. As much as their computers and operating systems were used in homes and institutions around the world, they had begun to grow stale in the eyes of the general public. In fact, during this period, the stock price for Apple routinely sat below a single dollar.
It wasn’t until the force known as Steve Jobs took over the company in 1997 that the brand really started to turn around. By portraying Apple devices as modern and revolutionary despite actually accomplishing very little in terms of real hardware and software development, Jobs helped catapult Apple not only out of trouble but into a runaway success. At this point, Apple still enjoys the fruits of the late Jobs’ labor, with the Apple stock price currently sitting at $188 US. They have also become the defacto choice for many users, especially those who value simplicity or those who wish to exude a certain image.
The game of bingo has admittedly always had an issue with image. The cliche, as it has existed for so long, involved the belief that the demographic skews entirely towards the elderly. This was one of the primary issues faced by iGaming company Gala Leisure, as, just a few years ago, they struggled with the dwindling number which this problem could represent.
Since then, however, Gala Leisure was bought by Caledonia Investments plc, who holds assets worth £1.8 billion, seeing an influx of investment and some key staff changes. Chief among these was industry veteran John Kelly joining as a key component of the rebranding effort, as they changed their name to the much more modern Buzz Bingo. Raising confidence through the significant weight of his name, and updating the image to both appeal to a younger audience and better cater to the traditional, Kelly has effectively raised the profile of Buzz Bingo to new heights, bringing in more customers than ever before and even challenging the common conventions of what it means to be bingo player.
One which we certainly didn’t see coming. The problem of Old Spice can be found within the name itself; it appears old. This is the sort of thing that your grandpa would wear or, at least, that was the thinking at the time. Old Spice saw progress in changing tack and, through a very successful advertising campaign featuring the likes of Terry Crews and Isaiah Mustafa, found enormous popularity in a market which otherwise might have passed them by.
We knew the MasterCard logo before we even understood what a credit card was; that’s how much influence and recognizability the simple two-circled text offers. Apparently not happy with this, MasterCard decided to change their logo into a design somewhat more modern, though definitely more a blotchy mess. The problem was not just in the new color gradations, but the very idea that MasterCard needed an updated logo in the first place. Updating your image is one thing but abandoning an iconic legacy is another entirely.
The disappointment, in this case, was one from the customer base. As the change was decided on by board-level business decisions, the customers felt ignored while industry leaders and commentators, including The Branding Journal, largely found the rebranding a failure. This was mostly down to the overwhelmingly negative response which the public had to the logo change, the foundations of which were set in 1968, when it was still Master Charge The Interbank Card.
Pepsi Cola is no stranger to rebranding, having gone through no less than nine different logo redesigns in their company’s long history. The most recent of these changes, instigated in 2011, changed the logo a bit too far away from the balanced red, blue and white which has been held since 1950, and into something which resembled a larger gentleman tipping backwards to reveal his belly to the world. Probably not a good look for an industry so involved with the obesity epidemic, and especially not worth the million dollars it cost.
For Pepsi, this was another example of the tone-deafness which the brand commonly displays. Pepsi has long been regarded as out of touch, and often cloying in their attempts to maintain or generate a youthful image. Much like their utter failure which was the Kendal Jenner advertisement in 2017, in the eyes of customers, they gave the appearance of being utterly out of touch. The ad had to be pulled and, as The Independent explains, the brand’s spokespeople had to publicly apologize.
— Pepsi™ (@pepsi) April 5, 2017