With a new year and big changes on the horizon, companies might be considering a rebrand. But a review of 2016’s rebranding efforts serves as a reminder that consumers are more scrupulous than ever; if it looks like the changes are only skin-deep, re-branding can bring an unwelcome, negative reaction.
Is updating your brand a good idea for 2017? There were plenty of high-profile rebrands in 2016 from which to learn. A variety of business impulses prompted change. Subway, for example, pursued a more upscale customer. Pandora wanted a relaunch and refresh. In the case of Netflix, it was a practical matter of changing its logo so it would fit into a tiny mobile icon. Elsewhere, a new brand emerged from the merger of two iconic companies, such as Marriott-Starwood and Kraft-Heinz, or a split in two, like HP.
All these companies felt the need to send a clear, visual message to customers and employees that things have changed, and they did a pretty good job. But any rebranding runs the risk of negative feedback and plenty of media scrutiny. Mozilla took the unusual step of selecting a new logo in public, to gain customer buy-in upfront, rather than backlash later. Uber hit a wall of disbelief when its founder insisted on redesigning the logo himself, as part of a wider rebrand. Other companies in the grip of controversy, such as Wells Fargo, Facebook and Samsung, might do well to consider redemptive rebranding to fix their reputations.
When done right, a rebrand can refocus a company to bring new market traction. But if it looks like all you did was slap on a new moniker or icon, you’ll never reverse or refresh your reputation, and may even damage it. Are you ripe for a new brand to match the new year? If so, how will you ensure it’s more than cosmetic?