11th September, 2017

Three huge company rebrands: Did they work?

There are many reasons a company might choose to rebrand, be it to keep up with competitors, for a fresh aesthetic, or to dissociate themselves from a less-than-desirable popular opinion or past.

Here are three examples of companies that famously rebranded for the latter reason—and how they went about it. 

Stella Artois was once strongly associated with binge-drinking football fans; to combat this, the brand consciously shifted its products towards luxury. The company began sponsoring film festivals rather than sports events, associating itself with European cinema, and producing artistic adverts with sophisticated cinematography and French voiceovers. They tried to turn a potential negative (their high price) into a positive by adopting the strap-line “Reassuringly Expensive” (in stark contrast to its earlier choice: “Stella’s for the fellas who take their lager strong”). They launched their own upmarket cider (or Cidre, using the strap-lines “C’est cidre, not cider” and “It’s not a glass, it’s a chalice”). Recent marketing has focused on the craftsmanship involved in brewing their beer, and the word ‘Stella’ is consciously avoided—likely due to the stronger negative connotations it carries—so ‘Artois’ can take centre stage.

Image credit: Soul 2 Amor on Flickr.

Burberry’s tan checked pattern is iconic. However, surprisingly recently this pattern was seen as unfashionable, and was even associated with thuggish violence and antisocial behaviour. The brand brought in a new creative director (fashion designer Christopher Bailey) and overhauled their image, aiming for a sleeker, elegant, classic style and persona that was more luxurious and played off their long heritage and brand history. As a key part of their new marketing strategy, they sought cool, classy, and high-profile ‘faces’ to advertise their clothes, and succeeded in recruiting Kate Moss, Emma Watson, Cara Delevingne, Eddie Redmayne, and more.

McDonald’s suffered hugely as public awareness around obesity and health began to increase (especially around the time of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me documentary in 2004). The company has made conscious efforts in past years to dissociate itself from the topics of obesity, poor health, no-prospect jobs, and poor public responsibility. The chain has revamped its stores, added healthier options to its menu, been more open and conscious about the sourcing and quality of its food and drink, launched programmes to cut its energy usage, plastic waste, and carbon footprint, and advertised new opportunities for its employees via strap-lines such as “Not bad for a McJob” and “Would you like a career with that?”. Although the chain’s core industry of fast food is inherently unhealthy, the brand has made significant efforts to respond to public pressure over health concerns, and to adapt with consumer demand—and has made sure people know about it.

Do you think these brands were successful in shedding their old image and beginning anew?

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