4 Critical Steps in the Process of Rebranding an Established Brand

June 19, 2024

Rebranding an established brand is a major undertaking that requires careful planning and execution. According to branding expert David Aaker, author of "Building Strong Brands," there are four key steps that are critical to the success of any rebranding effort: Read More

  1. Reevaluate the Brand's Positioning and Value Proposition:
    The first step is to take a fresh look at how the brand is currently positioned in the market and the unique value it provides to customers. This may require extensive market research to understand shifts in customer preferences and the competitive landscape.
    • Old Spice - successfully rebranded itself from an old-fashioned aftershave to a modern, humorous men's grooming brand. They conducted research showing their target audience had shifted to younger men and completely overhauled their brand voice and positioning.
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    • McDonald's - has gradually rebranded itself as a healthier fast food option, adding salads, fruits, and other better-for-you options to its menu based on changing consumer preferences.
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    • Gucci - rebranded itself under creative director Alessandro Michele, moving away from a sexy, flashy aesthetic to a more quirky, vintage-inspired look that has resonated with millennial and Gen Z luxury consumers.
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  2. Redefine the Brand Identity and Personality:
    Based on the new positioning, the visual identity and personality of the brand need to be updated. This includes elements like the logo, color palette, imagery, and tone of voice. The new brand should feel fresh and relevant while still maintaining a connection to the brand's heritage.
    • Burberry - rebranded to shed its association with British football hooligans while elevating its status as a luxury fashion brand. They updated their logo to a cleaner, more modern sans-serif font and focused their visual identity on their iconic tartan pattern.
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    • Mastercard - dropped the name from its logo, keeping just the iconic red and yellow intersecting circles to create a more flexible brand identity that works better across digital platforms.
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    • Dropbox - rebranded with a colorful, quirky new visual identity to position itself as a more creative, collaborative platform rather than just a file storage utility.
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  3. Engage Stakeholders and Align the Organization:
    Rebranding isn't just an external exercise. Employees, partners, investors, and other stakeholders need to be engaged in the process to build buy-in and ensure the entire organization is aligned around the new brand. This requires frequent communication and training.
    • Uber - rebranded in 2018 and prioritized getting employees on board with their new brand mission and values. They held over 50 employee workshops and collaborative sessions as part of the rebranding process.
    • Airbnb - created detailed brand guidelines and held training sessions to educate hosts on the new brand and how to provide an on-brand guest experience.
    • Slack - documented its rebranding process in detail on its company blog to build transparency and engagement with users and fans of the brand.
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  4. Launch and Manage the New Brand: Rolling out a rebrand requires a comprehensive go-to-market strategy spanning advertising, PR, events, and updated collateral and digital presences. Ongoing brand management is then critical to keep the new brand on track and make adjustments based on market feedback.
    • Dunkin' Donuts - rebranded to just Dunkin' in 2019, supported by a major advertising campaign and overhaul of their store experience and product packaging to emphasize their coffee and beverage offerings.
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    • Weight Watchers - rebranded to WW, supported by new program offerings, updated branding across all touchpoints, and a partnership with Oprah Winfrey for added visibility.
    • Tupperware - launched an updated brand identity alongside new product lines and a revamped sales approach to make the heritage brand relevant to today's consumers.

Rebranding an iconic brand may seem risky, but when done strategically by following these four key steps, it can reenergize a brand and drive renewed growth and relevance with today's consumers. The key is rigorous research, organizational alignment, and commitment to active brand management.