Let me start by saying that I am by no means a designer, nor in fact am I very creative or arty. But sometimes I do wonder about some so called rebrands and what the designer/ agency and brand were thinking at the time. Then you learn the cost and fall off your chair! Do the big agencies that do these rebrands really believe their work is worth that much money, or do they calculate the cost and then add three zeros to it?
Let me also touch on the word “rebrand”. This should not just be a change of logo or a refresh of website colours. A true rebrand effects everything in the organisation. Core Values, decore, processes, attitude, customer offering, everything plus design. So these are not really rebrands. Banding refreshes perhaps, but maybe they would have been the start of a full rebrand if they weren’t so bad.
So back in 2009, Tropicana tried to update their logo and packaging. Why? Who knows. Their familiar, friendly logo below, gives the impression of fresh, pure orange juice. Exactly what you would think they would want to portray, right?
The new brand reduced the focus on the brand name and pushed the 100% orange more. The issue with this, is there are lots of orange juice products on the market. It’s the Tropicana brand that people trust and that’s the reason they buy. Which in my opinion (and many others it seems) this was the mistake. Here is the new design:
The other fail is the lack of definition between types of juice. Bits, no bits, heaven forbid you take the wrong one home. People are very particular about the bits! The only thing that gave you a hint of which one you were getting, was the colour on the very top of the carton.
It’s reported that sales dropped by 20% and this two month “hiccup” cost the PepsiCo company $140 million. Opps!
Continuing along the Pepsi themed mess ups; Pepsi have tried a number of times to “rebrand” in an attempt to compete with market leader Coke.
In their latest rebrand, done in 2008, they seem to have paid, reportedly, just over $1 million to get their logo drunk! Perhaps it was the 27 page document that the agency provided on the reasons for their design that Pepsi were paying for? Apparently, reasons included the explanation that the wave is now a smile. That document, supposedly leaked, can be found online and is an “interesting” read to say the least. But hey, as I said, I am not a designer. But I also don’t buy Pepsi.
I was going to say which of the below I like the most, but I’m not sure if I really like any of them. Which do you prefer?
Now this one puzzles me. Again in 2008 (must have been something in the water that year) Animal Planet clearly thought that their logo was getting a bit stale and someone said, why don’t we “rebrand” and have a funky new logo! Perhaps they were trying to appeal to a younger audience, or maybe someone hit their head, we will never know the truth.
They went from a logo that in my opinion made sense; an animal and a planet to text that’s not that easy to read. I agree it’s more modern, and the use of bold, plan typography can work, but I don’t understand the focus on the M, maybe it was meant to resemble an animal? Maybe it does if you turn your head to the right and squint a bit.
I have to hand it to them though, they stuck to their guns and kept the logo. However, they did refresh it a little 5 years later, replacing the M with animal heads, which saved it for me. I really like it. Perhaps because you can look at the animal not the logo.
The Sci-fi channel
At least these guys had a reason for their rebrand. The bosses at the channel wanted to trademark the name and of course couldn’t do so with Sci-Fi as it’s a genre so they needed to rethink. At the same time they wanted to appeal to a younger audience and appear more hip and trendy.
So with this in mind, they not only changed the look of the logo but also the spelling. With the new brand, Syfy, being spelt how some would text it (not me, perhaps I am too old). But there was a classic mistake made here. Noone Googled what the name meant and if it had any negative connotations. Well it does. The new rebrand is Polish slang for syphilis!
Now you may not have heard of Qwikster, but this was Netflix’s not so bright idea. This was the company that was created to deliver DVDs for Netflix. The CEO knew that DVDs were in the past and that streaming would be the future so he wanted a brand that could capitalize on the dvd market whilst it still existed, but also one that he could bin when DVDs died a death.
What they did not take into consideration was the irritation from customers on having to re register all their details. This, along with the membership increase managed to pee off over a million customers, who stopped using the service. But this is not why this is on my list. There is one lesson to learn from this brand which is more and more important these days. Before committing to a name change or, infact, creating a brand: check that you can register the brand on Socials and of course the domain name.
This was the mistake Qwikster made. The @Qwikster handle on Twitter was already taken by a chap called Jason Castillo. The mistake came when they launched the brand without checking and registering the social handles. As it turns out, the @Qwikster handle was not only taken but the content was far from family friendly. The profit picture was of Elmo from “Sesame Street” smoking a joint and contained a number of inappropriate tweets.
So there are my top 5 disaster rebrands. And here are the do’s and don’t’s that I believe you should take away from it.
- Don’t call it a rebrand if it’s just a logo change
- Don’t lose the elements of your brand’s look that consumers recognise and trust
- Don’t pay over the odds for rubbish drunk designs
- Don’t try to hard to be trendy. There will be a new trend in a few years, so try to be timeless and stick to the core message
- Do register domain names and social handles BEFORE you launch the brand, better even, just as you finalise the name
- Do research the meaning of your name in both your language and others
I know design is somewhat in the eye of the beholder, but with these examples, the masses agree with me, shown by the huge dip in numbers in some cases. Others are just through my eyes. I would love to hear if you have some examples of good or bad (bad is always more fun) examples of rebrands / brand refreshes.