The Essence of Branding and Rebranding

In this current era of cutthroat competition, how can you lay a solid foundation for the success of your company? There can be multiple suggestions, but perhaps the best approach is to create a strong brand image that instills faith in people. However, creating a brand image is not an overnight thing. It can take years of dedicated effort from every section of a company. But that is not all. Creating a brand image is one aspect but maintaining it for a long time is not a simple one-way road.

With fast technological advancement, fierce competition and changing consumer sensibilities, an existing brand image also needs to evolve. It has always been the survival of the fittest. It is the true essence of rebranding. When we talk rebranding, it does not indicate merely changing the company logo and advertising style. It involves improving all aspects – technological, advertising, quality, customer support and much more.

What does it mean to rebrand a company?

Here are some reasons to rebrand

Modernize the brand:

Change is the only constant. Even if a brand is thriving, there is no guarantee that it will still be on top a few years down the line. To maintain the status quo a company needs to evolve in response to changing times and user needs. Rebranding is one of the most effective ways to stay relevant in the face of changing time and users.

Differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack:

Every day more companies emerge in various professional sectors. As soon as a business model of a particular company is successful, there will be many out there who will start new businesses imitating as well as improving upon the idea.

Therefore, it gets confusing for the consumer to differentiate one from the other. At the same time, it also gets difficult for companies to stand out as a better option in front of the users. In such scenarios, a well-planned rebranding is the need of the hour to make it loud and clear that your brand is better than the competition.

Eliminate or improve a negative image

It is a common issue where over the time a company moves away from its core vision. This creates a negative image of the brand among the customers.

Also, due to the rapid growth of social media and related apps, any negative brand image can get viral all over the world in a matter of hours. The most recent (April 2017) and a hugely viral PR disaster were related to United Airlines, where a passenger of Asian origin was forcefully dragged out of the plane before take-off. In the effort to remove the passenger, he was pulled inside the plane which caused him a bloody face.

Some of the co-passengers filmed the entire incident on phones and posted it on various social media platforms. In a span of 24 hours, the incident was trending worldwide on all the online and offline platforms. United Airlines faced a massive backlash to its reputation. However, to add salt to the wound, the company suffered a financial loss of more than $800 million in a span of 2 days.

In similar PR and brand image crisis, rebranding is one of the most viable solutions. It conveys the message to the consumers that the company is serious about correcting its errors.

Tackle a corporate crisis

In addition to the PR problems, companies also face a financial crisis like decreasing profits and even bankruptcy. It is a difficult situation to deal and to make a comeback. One of the most common approaches for rectifying this situation is rebranding.

The primary goal of this approach is to revive the brand (that has gradually lost its sheen or X-Factor) and make it again attractive for the consumers. The most famous example in this regard was of Steve Jobs when he rejoined Apple in 1997. At that point in time, the company was going through a steep financial crisis due to slumping sells and increasing popularity of Microsoft Windows.

Steve Jobs rebranded the company from Apple Computers to Apple so the company would not be restricted only to manufacturing and selling Macintosh computers. With this renewed vision, products such as the iPod and iPhone were eventually released. Also, the new brand came with a new theme line that said, “Think Different.” Today Apple is the world’s most valuable company with a net worth of $750 Billion.

The rules of company rebranding

Rebranding is a difficult task and carries much weight. You may be planning a rebranding, owing to one or more reasons mentioned in the previous section. However, to smoothly execute the transition you need to follow the basics mentioned below.

Consider the Following in Your Plan

Before rushing into the rebranding campaign, consider your answers to the following questions by Miles Herndon:

  • The wants, needs, and opinion of the current customers on your company
  • Your company’s existing brand assets
  • Your competitors’ products, services, and public sentiment
  • The employee’s view of the company and its brand
  • What lost prospects think of your business and its name
  • What community and thought leaders feel about your company and its brand

Communicate all the key parameters with the stakeholders

Rebranding is a joint event, where all the stakeholders and company professionals must work together. So, it is wise to divide the tasks into all the departments. Decide a timeframe to complete the rebranding and motivate all to operate according to that.

Plan the release of rebranding correctly

It is the crux of the whole rebranding operation. With so many variables controlling the outcome, a little mismanagement in rolling out the rebranding can make it an utter failure with no chance to win the positive perception of the consumers.

The magnitude of the release operation will depend on the size of the organization. However,  you should consider two modes of PR for any rebranding project.

  • Offline PR Campaigns: This includes all the methods of promotion in the natural world. It consists of internal company meetings, external influencer meetings, press briefings, print media promotions, televised ads, advertisement spots on sports/festivals/events and more.
  • Online PR Campaigns: This covers all the modes of online and social media promotion. There are a number of key social media platforms with billions of members worldwide. With the rise of mobile computing and social networking, it’s critical to fully leverage your brand’s presence in these platforms.

Five successful examples of rebranding

1. Apple was nearly bankrupt and is now ruling the world

We previously mentioned, in short, the resurgence of Apple from near bankruptcy in 1997. Steve Jobs rejoined as the CEO of the company and managed to turn its fortunes around. From advertising, product specifications and utility to the packaging, every aspect was wholly aimed at making the buyer feel the beauty of the assembly. Also do not forget the great use of visuals in Apple campaigns, products, and packages.

For every venture planning for a rebranding, the rise of Apple from near bankruptcy is the best case study of rebranding perfectly executed. The best way to successfully rebrand is to create great products and package those correctly to fulfill the aesthetic needs of the consumer. Technology can also be beautiful to look at, and Apple followed this approach with great success.

2. The curious case of Deadpool rebranding

Deadpool is a popular comic book character and fans were waiting for a movie on it for years. However, it never materialized owing to the nature of the character and its storyline.

In 2016, the new approach rebranded Deadpool as a smart mouth, quirky and relatable character with loads of excellent action sequences. Movie fans and loyal comic readers loved the new approach. The movie became a massive hit worldwide. This shows that with the help of rebranding, even old and familiar brands can be presented in a fresh light.

3. Pokémon Go:

“Pokémon Go” was one of the most viral cultural phenomena of 2016. However, it was far from a new franchise. With changing technology and increased competition, it was losing market share after many years of prominence. In 2016, Nintendo decided to leverage augmented reality technology to revamp the entire experience, naming the new game Pokémon Go.

Pokemon Go became an instant hit with its innovative concept and immersive user experience. The game was such a rage that for days after its release, the daily web traffic of the game was more than even Twitter’s and Facebook’s traffic. Adapting to newer technologies, just like the Pokémon franchise, can go a long a way to cement the success of the rebranding process. The makeover and popularity of “Pokémon go” is now a case study in rebranding.

4. McDonald’s

In spite of being the one of the world’s most successful fast food chains, McDonald’s sensed a consumer sentiment shift toward healthier lifestyles. To counter this negative perception, McDonald’s implemented a new brand strategy to focus on nutritious offerings.

To gain consumer trust, the company has been adding healthier items that include salads and fruits. Along with that, McDonald’s continues to engage in branding activities using online and social media campaigns promoting its healthier approach. All these rebranding initiatives helped McDonald’s regain market share and increase revenue. This shows that even the largest and most-established brands have to search for ways to stay current and relevant to consumers demands.

5. Marvel Cinematic Universe

Of all the rebranding examples, the rise of Marvel empire is my favorite. At a time when comic books and merchandise sales were decreasing (for all the major comic book publishers), Marvel dared to usher in a new era of creating a unified universe for all its characters.

In this form of rebranding, characters remained the same, but Marvel aimed to create a series of movies/TV Shows co-existing in a single cinematic universe.

This plan has been in execution since 2006. Fast forward to 2017, and the Marvel brand is way ahead than any competitor in gross revenue. Disney acquired Marvel at a valuation of $4 billion with excellent results after that.

As of now, the movies of the Marvel Universe alone have grossed $10,916,958,583 at worldwide box offices. Add to that the revenue from all other sources like print sales, animations, television series and merchandise sales, and the numbers are even more staggering.


You now have the necessary tools and insights to start your own rebranding campaign. The final goal of any rebranding or makeover is to create a positive vibe among the consumers in regards to the brand. Visuals are essential to getting the right messages and feelings across to your users, so make sure to get this part right. Don’t forget that DesignBold can play a crucial role in creating original images for your rebranding projects.