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Successful Rebranding – How to Rebrand a Failed Product to Success

Why should I rebrand?

There are many reasons as to why one would choose to rebrand their service, product or company. Some do it to improve the company’s success, some do it to change things up a bit. Some firms rebrand to give the company a facelift and some do it to revive a long lost product line. In all these aspects we recognize that rebranding is a tool that transforms the tangent of growth of the company.

Did you know that Google went through a name change in 1997? You’ll be surprised to hear that it was called Backrub before.

Imagine asking a friend to ‘backrub it’ instead of saying ‘google it’, hilarious isn’t it? Another example of rebranding was that of Apple Inc. the tech giant. Apple went through a major restructuring when Steve Jobs returned as its founder in 1997. These are some major rebranding examples that we have seen in this era.

What is rebranding?

Rebranding isn’t just about getting a new logo or changing the colors of brands. While these are significant changes that we do notice, there are many more elements that go into the underlying process of rebranding. It involves tiresome thought processes, strategies, retrospection, and brainstorming of fresh ideas.

Old Spice Rebranding Example

Old Spice is an American brand of male grooming products such as deodorants, shampoos, aftershave lotions, etc. it is an age-old brand that has been in the market since 1937. The brand has been remarkable in reaching their target audience back in the day. However, as the competition for men’s grooming products rose in the 21st century, Old Spice was left in the shadows as a brand for the old men. Soon enough, the folks at Old Spice, realized that they needed to rebrand and bridge the gap between the brand and its audience. It was all the more difficult to achieve this goal because of the brand’s association with the older folks. 

Photo credit: Early American Old Spice article, Fortune Magazine, 1940

The younger generation never bothered getting any products from Old Spice as the brand wasn’t so appealing. Also, for a long time, they even had a line printed on their products – “if your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist”. This tag line echoed the message that it was a product for the older folks. Though these were well-thought copies for its time, the brand’s association with the younger generation became nil. And since the folks at Old Spice wanted to see their positioning as a grooming brand for all ages of men. They went all out on a rebranding ad campaign.

Old Spice Viral Ad Campaign

A well thought out ad campaign premiered during the 2010 Super Bowl, that seemed to have broken the age-old spell of the brand. Old Spice’s ad campaign “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” took its audience by surprise and went viral on YouTube. Above all, in a few hours of release, the ad was viewed nearly 220,000 times and today that number stands at 57million views as we publish this blog. The ad became a huge success for the brand and its digital presence sky-rocketed to a 3000 percent high.

Old Spice kept coming back at promoting more stuff on TV, print, Twitter, Facebook, and etc., which helped them reach the audience they needed. Later, on further analysis, Old Spice discovered that the brand organically reached the age group of 18-35 easily. Now, how did they rebrand so well? What are some things that we can learn about effective rebranding? These are questions that we will look into here.

Steps to Successful Rebranding

Rebranding might be a little confusing at times and you might even become unsure of where to start. However, not knowing what to do, when to do and how to do is something we’ll be clarifying today. With a decade of experience in the field of branding and rebranding, we’ll be sharing a few pointers on how to go about this rebranding process.

Introspect The Brand

The very first step to any rebranding project is to quantify the reasons for rebranding. This means that you will have to ask difficult questions to address the need to rebrand. This helps in giving clarity and focus to hit the bullseye and achieve the goal.

Old Spice was meant to be a men’s grooming product and not an old man’s grooming product only. This may have been something that their brand lost over time. Therefore, it is always important to reflect and go back to your roots when you rebrand. This step is a crucial part of the rebranding process. Be it expansion, streamlining or recovery from a fall. It is important to be clear about the motive behind the rebranding. For instance, in Old spice’s case, they wanted to break the tag of being a brand for old men and capture the younger generation as their audience too. 

Another recent rebranding project that we easily notice is that of Facebook. It was clear that they wanted to streamline their businesses and bring them under one umbrella. Which led them to restructure the corporation and come up with a new logo for Facebook Inc. This was done to differentiate between the corporate office and their social media platform.

Analyze The Type of Rebranding

The next step is to analyze and choose the right type of rebranding. There are three major types of rebranding. First, the visual change – this mostly involves a change in the logo design or the typesetting, fonts, or color. The next type is Name Rebranding – this generally happens when a brand wants to recover from a negative event or wants to change its name because it is outdated. And the final type is the Organizational restructure – this is a type of rebranding, where an organization goes through a complete restructure. In simple terms, it is much like a renovation. In organizational restructure – the vision, values, and ethos of the organization are revisited to correct the inefficacies.

Old Spice knew that they had to invade the digital market and make their presence known. They knew that it was more of a visual rebranding that needed to take shape for them. Similarly, not just Old Spice even Federal Express went through visual rebranding by redesigning its logo for a modern feel in 1994. 

Note The Changes

The next step to rebranding is to think about it as a whole. Thinking through the different types of rebranding, brand positioning, and brand architecture, we need to write down the necessary changes. Components like brand positioning and brand architecture will help you target the audience you want to cater to and convey what the brand stands for. Old Spice knew that their products had to have a modern look and feel. And, they achieved this by using funky names for different lines of products to acquit them to the current trend.

Assess Risks and ROI

It is always advisable to spend lots of time in the initial steps as they need a lot of thinking and reflection to do. However, the next few steps of rebranding are pretty straightforward and deal with the economics of the brand. Here’s the tip, since rebranding projects cost a lot of money, it is important to pause and assess the risks involved and the Return On Investment (ROI). At this stage, getting marketing experts and financial advisors involved is a good idea before jumping the gun on rebranding. Because in the end, if the benefits outweigh the risks, you can gladly go ahead and execute the next stage of the rebranding project. However, if it is not, then it’s good to pause and wait for the right timing.

It was a huge risk for an old brand like Old Spice to use humor as their tool when their previous ads were bold yet elegant with no room for jokes. They used humor to surprise the audience and took a big leap of faith for themselves as a brand. And the kind of returns they received is immense. For them, A creative video worked out to their benefit. However, using the same formula and techniques might not work for others. In these instances, it is better to stop and think creatively for a unique solution. Because every rebranding project has its own unique challenges and solutions.

Test and Modify Rebrand Model

The next step is to roll out a rebranding model and test it. Get feedback from stakeholders, focus groups and other beneficiaries of the brand. Get people to think critically and challenge the model for any failure, so that you are prepared for the worst. And after rigorous testing of the model and making improvements. It is time to chalk out a plan before the actual re-launch of the brand.

The Launch

The final step is the most nerve-wracking experience one can have, the Launch. No matter how doubtful you might be with the rebranding launch. The success of the rebranding project relies on communicating the ideas effectively. And also to cohesively adapt all services and products with the change is a must for its success.

A wise practice taken by Old Spice was to be consistent with their videos. They didn’t stop at just one video but kept communicating the same message on different videos that they produced. They constantly kept the momentum going through interactive social engagements with stars that influence this group of 18-35 years. And towards the end, this ad campaign led them to a glorious success. 

Always remember this – The reason behind rebranding is crucial to choosing the right type of rebranding. In some cases, too little is too much, and in some too much isn’t enough. Getting the right amount of rebranding is essential for the success of the brand. And, when in doubt, consult a specialist. 

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