Time and technology move at lightning speed and, for businesses, this can mean that a rebrand is in order if they don’t want to appear outdated or irrelevant. Whether through a crisis or just keeping up with the times, most brands will need a reboot at some point and, in this article, we’ll take a look at some of the brands who have turned this into an art form.
With 39,198 restaurants in 119 markets, McDonalds is one of the most successful franchise businesses ever to be created - and is usually the first name people think about when they think of fast food. Although the brand has always enjoyed resounding success, it hit a bump in the road in 2004 when Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, Super Size Me, cast the company in a harsh light with accusations of promoting obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. McDonalds responded by reinventing its menu to include healthier options such as salads and wraps and by launching McCafe’s which offer herbal teas amongst other options.
This rebrand showed the public that the fast food giant had listened and learned from the criticism and, as a result, the brand went from strength to strength with a continued growth forecast of 4% per annum.
Synonymous with the famous checked raincoats and bags, Burberry was launched in 1856 and was an instant hit with the British public. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, Burberry’s popularity actually worked against the brand and its distinctive clothing became a symbol of the hooligan - so much so that many British pubs and other establishments actually banned the wearing of Burberry clothing within their premises. Needless to say, this was certainly not the image that Burberry was aiming for and, under the direction of Creative Director, Christopher Bailey, the brand set about a comprehensive overhaul which included a modern update of its classic fashion range. The hugely expensive rebrand also involved enlisting the help of A List celebrities such as Kate Moss and Emma Watson. Burberry’s rebrand was so effective that it netted the brand a staggering 27% increase in sales and expansion worldwide.
It’s hard to imagine that this uber-popular children’s brand ever needed a change of direction but, that’s exactly what happened in 2003. After unveiling some new products and designs, the Denmark based company suffered a greater defeat than in the 2020 Euros when it lost a whopping $300 million in revenue. How? LEGO got so focused on expansion that they lost sight of one important thing - the customer. In 2004, new CEO, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, addressed this issue by asking kids directly just what it was that they wanted - and the answer was ‘to build’. The children spoke and LEGO listened; immediately ditching the new and unpopular products such as new shape blocks and pre-built action figures and, instead, relaunched with simple, modern and exciting products. Thankfully, it all worked out and, by 2015, LEGO was the second largest toy company in the world.
In 2021, Greggs is most famous for its sausage rolls but, there was a time when the brand was in trouble simply because it failed to move with the times. Launched in 1939 in Tyneside, Greggs was created to offer affordable, freshly baked products to its customers. While this worked really well for the brand for many years, the UK’s high streets soon began to fill up with chain stores like Starbucks and Costa who were offering a wide range of exciting and international products. As a result, Greggs began to develop a reputation for being bland and boring and, its sales fell off a cliff as its customers flocked to the brand’s more vibrant competitors. Greggs decided to fight back by updating its standard bakery options and adding new, more interesting ones. The brand also harnessed the power of social media to woo back its customers and, Greggs is now known for its controversial and sometimes hilarious posts and campaigns.
With net sales of $274.52 billion in 2020, it’s hard to believe that tech giant, Apple, has ever needed a rethink. These days, Apple is one of the most popular brands in the world, with people flocking to its stores and websites in their millions but, this wasn’t always the case. In 1997, Apple was in trouble - big trouble; the kind of trouble that threatened bankruptcy for the brand. Faced with imminent closure, the brand knew that it had to take drastic action and, as such, it drafted in PR guru, Steve Jobs. The genius of Jobs was that he had an inherent talent for understanding what people want and he set about bringing Apple back from the brink. Initiatives such as in-store customer experiences and new and dynamic products quickly put Apple back on the map and, since that time, the company’s share prices have increased by a staggering 300%.
Throughout history, brands have warded off bankruptcy and come back stronger than ever through intuitive and dynamic rebranding. Any company looking to do the same can learn a huge amount from the examples stated in this article and, some of these takeaways are:
- Keep up with the times and, where possible, stay one step ahead
- Read the business landscape and keep an eye on the competition
- Listen to and understand the customer
- Hire a branding agency to help make it happen
- Never stop innovating
By following these simple rules, you can help to ensure that your brand enjoys the longevity of Burberry and the huge sales revenue of Apple.
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