To re-brand or not to re-brand?

Jun 7, 2016

First Uber, then Instagram and now Lebanon’s very own Roadster.

What is it that triggers us to react in such extreme ways when brands, well, re-brand?

Love/Hate, Relevant/Irrelevant, On-Target/Off-Target…These are just some of the thought rationales igniting heated debates, whether over coffee, at the water cooler or in the car as we’re driving by a visual representation of the rebranded brand.

To top off the community’s reaction to the new look (and to add fuel to the fire), enter the industry publishers and bloggers who have their own two cents to share.

Looking back at major re-brands, reactions tended to be – for the most part – negative. Think Pepsi, Kraft, Tropicana, MasterCard and most recently Uber and Instagram. The community was so vocal about the Gap & MasterCard rebrands, that the respective companies actually retracted the new identities and reverted back to the original ones.

Though innovation is key in marketing and communications, when you have a widely recognizable brand that is both loved and respected and when you aren’t making any core changes to your business operations or brand promise, then the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to your brand identity.

In some cases, a few retouches here and there might do the trick and keep zealous reactions at bay. Think Coca Cola.

Along the same lines, sometimes, there is a real need to do a rebrand, that does not stem from boredom or vanity. But the fact remains that it will take some time for the community to become in tune with this. It’s human nature to resist change. Though brands need to do some active listening to what their consumers are saying, they also need to be a little desensitised to the negative noise surrounding a rebrand, provided that it’s anchored in a new strategic vision, has been worked on meticulously by a branding/marketing team and is meant to trickle down the entire company pipeline (product, culture, communications).

Furthermore, brands need to involve their fans/consumers by telling them the story behind the rebrand; maybe it was just to stay relevant or maybe it was because a complete new offering is underway…Whatever the rationale, the more involved you get your fan-base, the more understanding they will be – the less “cheated” they will feel. We’re no longer living in a world where brands can simply dictate the status quo to consumers. It’s always a discussion now: make sure you have a good argument!