There is nothing like a brand makeover to increase brand awareness, shake up the market and, hopefully, boost sales. Rebranding can give a well-established brand a new lease on life, making it more relevant and fresh to newer, younger markets.
But just how do companies pull off such a major marketing transformation without alienating their key customers and disassociating themselves from past successes? Here, we round up five rebranding attempts of the last decade to see how some of the world’s best-known companies have pulled it off.
In the late nineties and early noughties, clothing label Burberry was over-extended. In its native country of England, Burberry’s quintessential black, red and tan check pattern were so strongly associated with hooligans, chavs and even gangs that two Leicester pubs banned anyone wearing the brand.
But in 2001, new management overhauled the brand with a new luxury range combining its classic look with cutting-edge, modern design. In the last decade, its popularity has soared with the help from endorsements from the likes of Kate Moss and Emma Watson. Now, a Burberry trench coat is a must-have luxury item.
Classic, 70-year-old brand Old Spice was at risk of fading away into nothingness, until former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa famously jumped on a horse, instructed women to look at their men then back at him, and went promptly viral. Since then, brand awareness has risen exponentially around the world, and sales in its American market rapidly followed suit.
This rebranding was less about a makeover and more about a modernisation, embodying how social media could be utilised to a brand’s advantage, so long as it provided in the entertainment stakes.
Target, along with rival K-Mart, has long been known as a low-brow retailer offering discount goods. However, using savvy partnerships and promotion deals with prominent fashion designers and brands ranging from Fiorucci to Issac Mizrahi – offering their designer merchandise at affordable prices – Target established itself from its competitors. It now appeals to the yuppie class as well as the soccer moms, and is the second largest discount retailer in the United States. Not a bad rebranding at all.
Arguably the biggest and best-known multinational corporation in the world achieved a rebrand of fittingly staggering proportions in the past decade. After its reputation took a hit from controversial documentary Supersize Me, which mocked the food chain for its fatty, unhealthy food, McDonald’s took on the criticisms and worked on its product line in response.
The result? A range of new healthier meal options – whoever thought you could get a salad from your local McDonald’s? – spoke to a more health-conscious brand. Though critics may not have eased off entirely, the brand’s ever-rising sales attest to some success among families at least.
One rebranding campaign currently underway is the case of Volvo. The past few years have seen the classic car brand position itself as a luxury vehicle with a difference, as advertisements and social media campaigns mark it out from the likes of Mercedes, BMW and Audi by portraying Volvo vehicles as a more unpredictable, less pretentious option.
‘Volvos aren’t for everyone, and we kinda like it that way’, says the voiceover of one of these new ads. It’s an interesting case to keep an eye on – stay tuned.
Maria Pengelly is a freelance writer and unashamed marketing nerd who certainly appreciates her own Volvo.