Posted by Brenda Timm, VP – Strategic Communication & Online Services

We see companies rebrand all the time. Sometimes their efforts are celebrated with enthusiastic approval, while other instances are met with more of a “what were they thinking?” reaction.

Yes, brands evolve over the years. But when committing to the big step of rebranding, it’s important to consider the reasons for the update first, and then outline a thorough strategy for working through the process. Failing to do your homework could result in “fixing” something that wasn’t broken or pushing customers away instead of drawing them in.

Let’s look at Gap, for example. Back in 2010, the clothing retailer introduced a new logo to replace its longstanding original and the backlash came pouring in almost instantly. Customers preferred the old version and weren’t shy about sharing their criticism on social media. Gap responded by asking for customer input on a new design, but the original, un-altered logo was back in place within a week. The question many had on their minds is why consumer input wasn’t considered sooner.

And then there’s that mascot change McDonald’s rolled out in 2014 which wasn’t received so well either. “Happy” was introduced (and still remains today) as the new face behind the Happy Meal and in came the memes mocking the “scary” character and the YouTube videos with kids’ terrified reactions. Advertising critics soon followed with their own disapproval and wondered if any focus group testing had been done.

One more memorable example is the packaging change Tropicana made back in 2009. It wasn’t just a small alteration to the look of the fruit juice bottles, but instead, a totally different logo and font with new imagery and lid styling. Consumers didn’t recognize the product on store shelves to be Tropicana and the brand experienced a big drop in sales as a result. Just like Gap, the original branding was reinstated soon after.

A lesson that emerges here: customer input is a really big deal. There are certain elements about a brand – from logos and imagery to mascots and taglines – that people identify with and have developed an attachment to.

Before taking on a total transformation, study the marketplace. Have your audience weigh in as they are the ones you really want on board since they are the end users. Maybe you’re on the right track or perhaps you’ll find that changes on a smaller, subtler scale are the better solution. Either way, you’ll have some valuable input to guide you.

A few other things to consider when rebranding? The process isn’t cheap, so be sure you are ready to make the investment. Plus, all elements of your rebrand should work together to communicate one clear, consistent voice. Whatever you roll out on one channel should follow on the others.

And just as importantly, don’t do all that work and then wait for people to discover your efforts. Be proactive about promoting your rebrand and get the word out there!