Planning a Major Rebrand

A total rebrand is a big decision. There are many factors to consider – will the change alienate current consumers or make it difficult for them to find the brand? Is the change worth sacrificing existing brand equity? Is the new branding something that can carry the brand into the future long-term?

Despite these concerns, there are also strong reasons for brands to consider a rebrand. If the original branding is outdated, offensive, or no longer represents the core product or service that the company provides, then a rebrand might be the best course of action. When developing a major rebrand, it’s important for brand leaders to have a clear plan to navigate the risks that come with such a significant change.


A Multi-Phased Approach

One of the most prominent rebrands in recent years was just officially announced last month. After a year of public conversations about how black mascots are depicted, Pepsico and The Quaker Oats Company announced that they would be retiring the Aunt Jemima® brand and would relaunch it as Pearl Milling Company®.

However, the brand isn’t transitioning right away. Right now, products on shelf are still labeled as “Aunt Jemima®” without the character. This is a smart initial step because it gives consumers the opportunity to recognize the brand without the mascot. Once the new branding debuts in June, the packaging will be much closer to the current mascot-less version that’s in stores.

When undertaking a major rebrand, a multi-phased approach like this can be helpful for making a smooth transition. Other brands may begin by rebranding a single line before slowly expanding out towards their other owned lines. In any case, patience can really pay off when it comes to such a dramatic change.


Choosing a New Name

 When planning a major rebrand, the name change is one of the most delicate elements to consider. In the case of Pearl Milling Company®, the brand team reached back into their own history for inspiration. In fact, before the brand was known as Aunt Jemima®, its milled products were promoted under the Pearl Milling Company® name. Aunt Jemima® is a brand with a ton of history and equity, so it makes sense for the brand team to choose a new name that continues to reflect the brand’s long heritage.

Dunkin’ Donuts® is another great example of a brand that has recently undergone a high-profile name change, dropping the “Donuts” to be known permanently as Dunkin’®. This transition stemmed from the fact that the old brand name no longer represented the brand’s core offerings. As coffee and other beverages have become a much more significant part of the company’s product portfolio over the years, it no longer made sense to keep “donuts” in the name. It even fits better with their longtime tagline, “America runs on Dunkin’®.”

A major rebrand can be a huge challenge for brand leaders. There are many factors to consider, as well as a lot of risks that have to be weighed. But by tackling the project with a solid rollout plan and a tested, well-thought-out new design scheme, brands can successfully embrace big changes that can carry them forward into the future.

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