Rebranding a company is no small feat. The logo isn’t the only brand asset that will need to be updated. The company’s name will need to be updated on business documents, contracts, online lists… the list goes on. Not to mention the process of notifying customers and vendors of the new name.
So, why do companies rebrand if the process is so laborious? There are also many benefits to rebranding a company including improved brand awareness and value. We’re breaking down a few of the top reasons to rebrand – both negative and positive.
Change in ownership name
One of the simplest reasons for a company rebranding is a change in ownership. In 2010, I worked on the rebranding of a construction equipment dealership to reflect the owner’s family name. The decision to change the company name was not taken lightly by the owner. His father once told him to never embarrass the family name. He wanted to be absolutely certain that the decision was a wise one, so we utilized qualitative and quantitative research to back our decision. We conducted multiple focus groups to gain customer feedback and deployed surveys to get a greater consensus on the decision.
The dealership later sold for a 15-time multiple and changed the name once more to the new company name.
Change in service or product focus
Remember when Dunkin’ sold donuts and coffee? Well, they still sell coffee and donuts. And lattes, teas, sodas, sandwiches, breakfast bowls, and any other fast casual food item that their competition sells.
In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts became Dunkin. Their CEO cited two reasons for the change. They wanted the chain to highlight its focus on beverages. The second reason for rebranding was simplifying their name for a more energetic approach. If you’re reading between the long drive-thru lines, you might also see that Dunkin saw the lucrative opportunity of pricey coffees offered by their competitors at Starbucks.
Another example of a subtle name change is Apple, formerly Apple Computers.
Create a more marketable brand to sell
When a company’s exit strategy includes selling to or merging with a competitor, a marketable name can make the company more attractive to private equity investors.
Heart & Hustle Brands recently took on a new client that is rebranding their very “law-firmy” sounding name to a name that will be more recognizable in the traffic law space. The new name will improve their brand awareness and recall for their target audience of drivers with recent traffic infractions.
There has been a trend over the last ten years to mash together odd words to create a catchy and memorable brand that can be trademarked.
Remember a little search engine company called BackRub? Probably not. That’s because the company rebranded to Google and eventually to Alphabet. A unique name that nearly everyone remembers.
We’ve covered the more positive reasons why a company might rebrand. Reputation repair or reputation management is one of the not-so-great reasons to change a company name.
Companies that have experienced a crisis may consider changing their name. One of the most recent notable companies to change their name is Meta, formerly Facebook. The social media company may claim that the name change broadened its scope to include augmented reality, but I think most people can see through the transformation.
The supreme court ruling ordering Philip Morris company to pay punitive damages for its harmful tobacco products prompted the company to change its name to Altria in 2003. They’ve also acquired food products company Kraft Foods to diversify their offering.
Companies that have rebranded
About the Author
Stacey Harrison is the lead brand strategist and designer at Heart & Hustle Brands and has provided creative direction for healthcare, industrial, and financial services brands for 20 years. She started Harrison Creative Group in 2017 to serve businesses that need a professional brand image on a budget. In 2021, the company rebranded to Heart & Hustle Brands to walk in the shoes of clients that experience a change of name or brand refresh.