By Frances Collins
12/08/2016
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Rebrands gone wrong

Within the wider category of failed rebrands most can be placed into two distinct categories. The first unsuitable branding and the second poor design ¹. Both are obviously highly subjective so we tend to have to rely on general consensus as to which category a rebrand would fit into.

Failed rebrands - why they are classed as a failure. Old and new mastercard logos

Mastercard rebranded in 2006 alongside a slight change in business direction – with the business communicating their values of advancing relationships, insight and commerce more prominently. The core of the rebrand process however excluded audience consideration and was driven by board-level business decisions. This approach can often work in the branding process as a whole – especially with start-ups – but can have a negative effect during a rebrand. The result was an outcome that communicated the values, but failed to take into consideration customer loyalty to the current brand.

Failed rebrands – when tone of voice is misunderstood

Another example of a recalled rebrand is Kraft. In 2009 Kraft rebranded its corporate division from a bold, recognisable logo to a generic, bland logo with limited reasoning as to why – the press release stated the new logo clearly delivered [sic] “delicious”. But to many the brand felt more like a stock logo with very little personality.

Failed rebrands - why they are classed as a failure. Old and new kraft logos

When you attend a wedding, you tend to use the invitation design to work out what to wear – lace and a swirly font may indicate a degree of formality, whereas if the invitations are printed on cloth – you may need to bring your wellies! The same is true with consumer interaction with companies – audiences want to know where to set expectations and glean as much information to get to a wise decision.

Kraft Food Group Inc. lost its simplicity as a corporate brand and the rebrand reasoning – to communicate the word ‘delicious’ feeling like an odd choice for a company owning so many other brands.


¹ Take the rebrand for Loughborough University. Attempt one (https://www.change.org/p/loughborough-university-revoke-2015-rebrand) would be considered ‘unsuitable branding’ – a brand that doesn’t connect with its audience. Attempt 2 (and the final logo) would be considered poor design.

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