Rebranding. It’s a term that makes C-level executives’ shudder and marketers love to use. Revamping a brand’s image is a necessity in a fast-paced world where trends turn on a dime, but it’s a complicated and expensive process. Companies that decide to rebrand must maintain their identity while expanding their role in the marketplace, adopting a new image or diversifying their product selection. It’s a delicate balance of the old and the new that results in a successful rebrand
2018 was the year of the rebrand with several prominent companies getting extreme makeovers. Some pulled it off, while others flopped. Here are several notable rebranding lessons from this year.
Pedialyte. The name indicates its use for children and although that has been the brand’s target for years, in 2018 there was a major shift in demographics in which Pedialyte aimed its marketing efforts. The electrolyte solution has long been a favorite remedy among college students after they’ve had one too many the night before, and Pedialyte picked up on that this year. In fact, one-third of Pedialyte's users are adults, increasing 57 percent since 2012. “See the Lyte” campaign launched this summer, featuring tongue-in-cheek ads and messaging that demonstrated how the rehydration drink can fit into adult lifestyles. Celebrity endorsements from Miley Cyrus, Pharrell and Carson Daly also solidified Pedialyte as a drink choice that was no longer just for sick kids.
Abercrombie & Fitch. Up in its third quarter, it’s safe to say that Abercrombie & Fitch’s rebrand is (finally) paying off. Although popular with millennials a decade ago, its sales had been steadily declining as consumers aged out of the trend, and the brand struggled to identify with Generation Z. Recently, Abercrombie & Fitch changed its name to A&F, redesigned its logo and increased its social media presence. In addition to the obvious first steps, they’ve re-created the entire shopping experience. Doing away with the signature overpowering scent and dimly lit brick and mortar stores in addition to improving the clothing line have contributed significantly to the brand’s increased sales.
IHOP. The move to change the name to the “International House of Burgers” left many loyal IHOP breakfast lovers disappointed and confused. The brand attempted to promote its addition of burgers to the menu by changing its name earlier this year and, well, it didn’t go over as well as they hoped. Although meant to be a joke, it backfired when other fast dining brands “trolled” the company on social media. IHOB lasted only a weekend before the brand backtracked. A classic example of don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Toys’R’Us. Many of us saw the death of our childhood when Toy’R’Us went bankrupt in 2017 and announced it was closing all of its stores in January of this year. Hearts broke when the brand posted a picture of its mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, with a packed suitcase in an empty Toys’R’Us. The post went viral along with the hashtag #ForeverAToysRUsKid. The toy company received a second chance, however, when they rebranded as Geoffrey’s Toy Box and were featured as pop-up shops in all Kroger stores this holiday season.
In the communications sphere, rebranding can be an exciting and sometimes difficult terrain to navigate. However, if a company fails to keep up with times and adapt to new trends, they're often left in the dust. A rebrand shouldn't be the end of the world, but instead be looked at as a way to invigorate corporate culture and keep a brand fresh.