Watch this space: our take on September’s biggest rebrands

Nailing the visual, linguistic and core identity of your brand is no mean feat – whether you’re a start-up, a seasoned entrepreneur or an established business leader spearheading a rebrand.

Reasons to rebrand vary from reflecting a repositioning, staying competitive or tackling competition head-on, mergers and acquisitions – and structural changes that need to be reflected publicly. It’s a big undertaking, not least because it has the power to change public perception and is also one of few opportunities to publicly explain a business’s restructuring or repositioning. Sometimes, just going through the internal messaging process can provide valuable insight from stakeholders regardless of a major overhaul.

This September we’ve seen rebrands by some major UK companies: Weight Watchers, Debenhams and yesterday’s announcement of BBC2 getting its first makeover since the 1990s.

Over the years there have been several rebrands that haven’t necessarily paid off. A few that spring to mind are Coco Pops briefly becoming Choco Krispies, the Post Office’s 12-month disguise as Consignia, and a badly received GAP logo revamp in 2010 – which lasted just one week.

One big mistake is to rebrand based on a solely inward focus. Of course, rebrands are commercially driven, but they must also be outward facing, with customer market research at the heart of the mission.

Weight Watchers’ refocus on wellbeing rather than weight isn’t being hailed as a roaring success – namely because of the unfortunate new logo reading ‘WW’ – a double ‘double-you’….

The initial hesitancy is unsurprising given that the Weight Watchers brand embodies a huge amount of trust from the public. People have looked to the organisation to lead physical personal transformations and reach ‘dieting’ goals for over 50 years, but this heritage might actually protect it from alienating fans. To an extent, Weight Watchers’ market dominance counteracts some risk of being just another wellbeing ‘fad’ – it’s simply evolving its offering for the next generation.

The rebrand may attract a younger generation to its range of products, timed with the national wave of support for body positivity, mental wellbeing and personal empowerment movements. The move ushers out the ‘old’ connotations of Weight Watchers being for the ‘overweight’ and places it more firmly in a new era of positive change and pride.

It’s a subtle example of how a brand’s history can be its biggest strength in a rebrand, even if it’s moving away from its traditional image.

The John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners rebrand on the other hand is much more operationally driven, and has been rationalised with the retailers needing a mobile and digital-first offering. The second aim was to elevate the retailers’ partners (employees), in a bid to bolster positivity from consumers about the group.

The partnership element of John Lewis and Waitrose’s business is a unique differentiator of its business model but was – apparently – largely unknown by many consumers.

Bringing partnerships to the fore may help the two brands win consumer loyalty, but it largely serves a corporate and commercial purpose of streamlining operations. There is nothing wrong with having a practical rebrand, but this move seems to lack customer focus – it looks more like a facelift to mask a restructuring of the business.

The ‘digital-focus’ and ‘fashion forward’ reasoning for the visual rebranding also seems more of an homage to the barcode – not the e-commerce era. That makeover will do little to navigate a tricky retail environment unless the actual multichannel consumer offering evolves as well. So, just as with all rebrands – watch this space.

If you’d like to speak to us about rebranding, please contact us today to find out more.

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